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10 Factors That Affect the Cost of Bathroom Remodels

December 15th, 2023 | 6 min read

By Aaron King

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Few endeavors hold as much promise and challenge as a bathroom remodel. If you’re transforming this intimate space, the journey is rife with questions and considerations.

The pain points are varied—ranging from the complexities of layout decisions to the uncertainty of material costs. Now, here's the question: How can I make my remodeling both creative and a smart investment?

With 15+ years in bathroom remodeling, we understand what makes a project successful, including the costs. Whether planning the ideal bathroom or managing expenses, we know how your budget aligns with your preferences.

In this article, we will explore the 10 factors that will influence the cost of your bathroom remodeling project:

  1. Bathroom Size and Layout
  2. Material Choices for Countertops, Flooring, and Fixtures
  3. Labor Costs That Vary With Project Complexity
  4. Structural Changes and Plumbing Updates
  5. Custom Design Elements That Will Increase Price
  6. Michigan Regional Cost Variations
  7. Hidden or Unexpected Costs to Look Out For
  8. Professional Remodeling vs. DIY
  9. Navigating Market Pricing Dynamics
  10.  Post-Remodel Considerations With Long-Term Effects

1. Bathroom Size and Layout

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The dimensions and layout of your bathroom significantly impact the project cost. Primary bathrooms, which include extra features like separate showers and jacuzzis, tend to be on the pricier side. Half-baths are the most budget-friendly, showing that the cost is linked to the amount of space involved.


Larger bathrooms not only mean more floor space but often involve complex layouts. For primary bathrooms, where the layout can become more elaborate, the costs tend to escalate. A strategic consideration of space utilization becomes crucial, aligning your vision with a budget-conscious approach.

Design Flexibility

Tailoring the design to the available space requires balancing functionality and aesthetics. Choosing fixtures and layouts that maximize utility while maintaining an appealing design is essential to controlling costs.

2. Material Choices for Countertops, Flooring, and Fixtures

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Choosing materials for your bathroom remodel is a big deal for the cost. Whether you go for affordable acrylic or fancier options like imported tiles, your choices matter. Knowing about different materials, like porcelain and stone, helps you make smart choices that fit your vision and budget.

Cost Spectrum

Material choices present a spectrum of costs, providing homeowners with a range of options that cater to diverse budgets. Exploring cost-effective yet stylish materials can help balance aesthetics and financial prudence.

One example of this practice is luxury vinyl tile (LVT). LVT mimics the appearance of tile while costing less in materials and installation. For a 10’ x 10’ bathroom, LVT flooring can range anywhere from $2,400 - $3,200, and tile flooring can range anywhere from $5,400 - $6,300.

Quality vs. Cost

Even though there are cheaper materials, finding the right balance between quality and cost is important. Choosing stronger materials at the beginning can save you money over time by reducing the need for repairs and replacements.

Take the LVT vs. Tile discussion, for example. While LVT can be more budget-friendly, its vinyl makeup isn't the most resilient, easily getting scratched and damaged by water. In contrast, tile is designed to resist scratches and won't warp when exposed to standing water.

3. Labor Costs That Vary With Project Complexity

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Labor impacts all parts of bathroom remodeling, such as plumbing, electrical work, and tile installation. Bigger bathrooms with more fixtures will have higher labor costs due to the added complexity and time needed for the job. It's crucial to grasp how material and labor costs work together when planning your budget.

Specialized Trades

Understanding the skills needed for these tasks emphasizes the importance of a skilled team to ensure good work.

Experienced contractors make remodeling smoother and could reduce labor costs. They're good at organizing tasks, sticking to schedules, and avoiding unexpected delays.

Here are some of the specialized trades that are typically involved in bathroom remodels:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Tile Installation

4. Structural Changes and Plumbing Updates

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Reconfiguring the design, moving fixtures, or changing plumbing locations need structural changes. Making changes, especially in finished basements, costs more because it's complex to access and rework existing infrastructure. It's crucial to evaluate the existing structure during planning.

Hidden Challenges

Structural changes might reveal hidden challenges like outdated plumbing or unforeseen structural issues. Having a contingency fund in the budget for unexpected expenses ensures financial readiness.

Integration of New Technologies

Improving plumbing for modern fixtures or smart technologies will increase the cost. Balancing these advancements with the overall budget requires strategic planning.

5. Custom Design Elements That Will Increase Price

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Adding extra design features like towel warmers, motion sensors, and custom lighting makes the cost go up. Even though these things make the space more useful and nice-looking, you should think about them when planning your budget from the start.

Functional Luxury

Custom design elements bring a touch of luxury and functionality to the bathroom. Knowing how much these features cost helps make sure you can afford to include them in your plan.

Long-Term Value

Choosing energy-efficient lights or modern fixtures may cost more upfront but can save money in the long run. Evaluating the return on investment for these features guides decision-making.

6. Regional Cost Variations in Michigan

Michigan's dynamic climate introduces unique challenges for bathroom remodeling. Ensuring your home has good insulation and dealing with local issues related to temperature changes is essential. This factor emphasizes the importance of tailored solutions that align with the specific needs of your region.

Climate-Responsive Solutions

Selecting materials and designs that suit Michigan's weather helps guarantee a long-lasting remodel. Proper insulation and moisture-resistant features protect against weather-related damage.

Local Building Codes

Adhering to local building codes and regulations is paramount. Contractors who know the local rules can handle these challenges well, preventing legal and money problems.

Costs can vary from city to city. Generally, Michigan bathroom permitting costs $300 - $700, depending on the scope of your project.

7. Hidden or Unexpected Costs to Look Out For

Homeowners should be prepared for hidden costs, especially in older homes where wear and tear may not be immediately apparent.

Here are some hidden and unexpected costs that you could encounter during a bathroom remodel:

  1. Moisture Damage: It's not uncommon, especially with an older shower, to discover a previous leak. Depending on the level of damage done to the surrounding areas, this could be an easy fix by replacing a few boards and sealing the area well. However, sometimes a more significant problem can be discovered that needs to be addressed. Water damage is especially concerning because it can be the starting point for mold. Take this seriously!
  2. Proactive Assessments: Inspecting everything carefully before remodeling helps find hidden problems. This careful planning makes budgeting more accurate and reduces the chance of unexpected costs.

8. Professional Remodeling vs. DIY

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The decision to hire professionals or embark on a do-it-yourself (DIY) journey has financial implications. While DIY projects are cost-effective, depending on the value of your time, this could be the most expensive route. Fixing plumbing and electrical issues and making structural changes usually needs professional help.

If you do it yourself, it takes a lot of time and effort. You need to decide if it's worth your time, considering the learning curve and possible problems with tasks you're not used to.

Guaranteed Workmanship

Opting for professional remodeling services ensures guaranteed workmanship. Professionals handle daily challenges, fixing problems and keeping the project on schedule.

Full-Service Contractors

Selecting a full-service contractor, such as Custom Built, makes things easier for homeowners. One team manages everything (design and build), making the process smoother and ensuring a cohesive result.

9. Navigating Market Pricing Dynamics

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Michigan's housing market experiences seasonal fluctuations, impacting pricing dynamics. Understanding these variations is essential for strategic budgeting, considering factors like supply and demand during peak seasons.

Smart Scheduling

Scheduling your bathroom remodel during off-peak seasons can potentially yield cost savings. Contractors may offer more competitive pricing during periods of lower demand, contributing to a more budget-friendly project.

Supply Chain Challenges

Supply chain challenges can influence the availability and cost of materials. Keeping abreast of market trends and collaborating with contractors with strong industry connections can help navigate these challenges effectively.

10. Post-Remodel Considerations with Long-Term Effects

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While focusing on the upfront costs is crucial, considering the long-term benefits and return on investment (ROI) is equally essential. A well-executed bathroom remodel not only enhances your daily living but also contributes to the overall value of your home.

Long-Term Value

Investing in high-quality materials and design elements can translate into long-term value. Resilient fixtures, energy-efficient features, and timeless aesthetics ensure that your remodeled bathroom stands the test of time.

Recouped Cost and Home Resale

Beyond personal enjoyment, a thoughtfully remodeled bathroom can positively impact the resale value of your home, recouping 57.1% of the cost. Realizing a return on investment becomes tangible when prospective buyers recognize the quality and functionality of the space.

Next Steps to Remodeling Your Bathroom

A bathroom remodel can be an exciting process, with plenty of elegant options that’ll elevate your everyday space. Cost, no matter how big or small, will always be an essential component to the success of your project. Without taking the time to understand what will influence your new bathroom’s price, you can face budget overruns, potentially sidelining your remodel - leading to unwarranted stress.

Through seasoned expertise and a commitment to unraveling the complexities, we've shed light on the 10 factors that will influence the cost of your bathroom remodels.

With over 15 years of bathroom remodeling experience, we’ve upgraded dozens of spaces for Mid-Michigan homeowners, all with unique challenges and characteristics that have influenced the cost of their projects.

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Now that you know more about the factors that influence the cost of your bathroom remodel, let’s explore your first potential steps with Custom Built’s Proven Process, the best designs to consider for the upcoming year, and how much your project will cost.

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.