Is a DIY bathroom remodel a good idea? The expenses can add up in a hurry. Here’s how to decide if you do it yourself or hire a professional.

A bathroom remodel is an expensive and time-consuming project. Some bathroom renovations can take more than a month when done by professionals—imagine how long it may take when the job is tackled by an inexperienced DIYer. A DIY bathroom remodel may be the best bet if you have the expert knowledge and experience to replace plumbing, install toilets and bathtubs, and lay tile. Bathroom remodeling costs can quickly skyrocket when you consider the prices of toilets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, plumbing materials, flooring, framing, tile, and paint. Hiring a professional can save time and guarantee that the job is done right. Taking on a DIY bathroom remodel may save on labor costs, but it will take more time and effort.

Difficulty: Expert. In order to tackle a DIY bathroom remodel, you should be experienced in plumbing, wiring, flooring, and drywall in addition to installing toilets, showers, baths, cabinets, and fixtures.

DIY Bathroom Remodel When to DIY

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You should DIY your bathroom remodel if you have the time and experience to complete the project. If you have a limited budget and want to save on labor costs, DIY-ing part of the remodel on your own and hiring a plumber and electrician to cover the more technical side of the improvement is an option. A DIY bathroom remodel involves a clear plan and choosing the right materials for the job. Any mistakes should be remedied right away. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses during a DIY project will make it go more smoothly.

You are on a tight budget and want to save on the cost of labor.

There are a few ways to save money on a tight budget. Doing the entire project on your own is one way to save, but if you’re unsure about your plumbing, framing, or electrical skills, you can hire professionals to do those jobs while you cover the tasks you feel more confident completing on your own. Laying your own tile, painting, resurfacing a tub, buying and installing your own fixtures, and taking care of other surface repairs and remodeling are some ways you can save money during a DIY bathroom remodel.

An extremely experienced DIYer should have minimal problems with a DIY bathroom remodel. Make sure you leave ample time to complete the project, and be prepared for any setbacks that may emerge. Plumbing and electrical work are where things can get hairy. If the plumbing is in excellent condition and the wiring is already in place, the project has a better chance of going smoothly. If new plumbing or wiring needs to be installed, hiring professionals may be the best bet.

Painting walls and cabinets yourself is a good way to keep the project budget on track. According to HomeAdvisor, you can save between $380 to $800 by painting the bathroom on your own. You can be in control of the details by buying the bathroom fixtures you want. Buying your own fixtures can save you the 10 percent markup that professionals charge for fixtures. You can also save on the faucet installation cost of $150 and $340 by doing it yourself.

DIY Bathroom Remodel When to Hire a Professional

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When to Hire a Professional

The primary reason to hire a professional is if you don’t have the experience or the skill set to complete the DIY bathroom remodel. If you don’t own the proper tools, are doing a large-scale remodel, have a large bathroom, have extensive plumbing or electrical issues, or have only one bathroom in the house, these are all viable reasons to hire a professional. Tackling a DIY bathroom remodel project is practically guaranteed to have unforeseen problems. Professional contractors know how to handle these issues and will plan the bathroom remodel to stay within permit parameters. Having licensed professionals in charge of the project will save time and effort so you can focus your energy elsewhere. A DIY bathroom remodel will rarely look as good as when professionals do it. There is also the potential for plumbing installation mistakes that result in leaks and water damage.

When you don’t have enough time to devote to a project.

A DIY bathroom remodel takes up a lot of time. Sometimes the cost of paying a general contractor is worth it because of the time that is saved. Even though experienced professionals can dedicate 8 or more hours a day to a bathroom remodel, it can still take up to 4 or 5 weeks to complete. A DIYer can only work on it during their free time or on weekends and will take considerably more time—sometimes up to 6 months.

You have only one bathroom.

If there’s only one bathroom in the house, you’ll want to get the remodel done as quickly as possible. A general contractor will get the job done quickly and efficiently so you can get back to using that essential space.

There’s electrical and plumbing work that needs to be done.

Professional electricians and plumbers are familiar with building codes and if you need a permit for a bathroom remodel. They can recognize when wiring or pipes are out of date and need to be replaced. Even experienced DIYers leave the electrical and plumbing work to the professionals, since most of the time a license is required to perform this kind of work.

You’re making big structural changes to the bathroom.

If you’re changing the footprint and the layout of the bathroom, it’s best to leave that to a professional. Installing new wiring and plumbing, boxing in a new bathtub, hanging new drywall, tiling a shower or floor, and installing vapor barriers are jobs that experienced professionals can tackle with ease. It may be worth the extra cost to pay someone else to do the hard work for you.

You’re replacing the shower or the tub.

Installing a new shower or tub can be an intricate process that involves plumbing, contracting, and tiling expertise. The complex nature of this work requires someone that is more than competent with installing a level and tightly sealed shower or tub.

You’re planning on waterproofing.

Having a waterproof bathroom prevents the growth of mold and mildew. Using waterproof inorganic materials such as stone, tile, and metal are excellent choices since moisture doesn’t cause them to decay or rot. A plumber will ensure that pipes are leak-free to avoid potential water damage, and having an electrician install an exhaust fan will help cut down on moisture in the bathroom. Caulking around cracks between surfaces and using high-gloss paint will also prevent water and moisture damage to the bathroom.

DIY Bathroom Remodel DIY or Hire a Professional

Photo: istockphoto.com

Verdict: DIY or Hire a Professional?

On average, a DIY bathroom remodel will cost less than half of what a general contractor will charge, but it will take considerably more time. For a full bathroom remodel, it’s recommended to hire a professional. A general contractor will do the job faster and better than the average DIYer and will subcontract electricians and plumbers to make sure the job is done right. The overall cost of hiring a professional is worth the time you save and the headaches you avoid if you try to complete the project on your own.

Why Skip This DIY Project

Ditch the DIY bathroom remodel if you don’t have the time, have only one bathroom, don’t have the advanced skills or expertise to complete the project—or if you want to guarantee the end result will be clean and professional. If you make mistakes during the project, the costs to repair them may outweigh the initial cost savings of doing it yourself. Hiring a professional will involve less stress; avoid bathroom remodeling anxiety and leave it to the pros.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional

The benefits of hiring a professional can outweigh the cost savings of a DIY bathroom remodel. By hiring a professional you can:

  • Save time. General contractors, plumbers, and electricians are highly skilled and know how to remodel a bathroom. It will not take them as long to complete the project as it would take a DIYer to squeeze it into their spare time.
  • Rely on experience. A professional will know which walls are load bearing and which walls have pipes that run through them. Some bathroom remodeling projects will require permits, depending on the area you live in and how extensive the job will be. A general contractor will be knowledgeable regarding permits and how to quickly acquire them for the job. They can also recommend cost-efficient, innovative, and budget-friendly products that will stand the test of time. Stain-resistant, durable, and easy-to-clean products will ensure you’re happy with the bathroom remodel.
  • Have peace of mind. Leaving the heavy lifting to the pros will provide peace of mind. Professional contractors, plumbers, and electricians will let you know exactly what needs to be done and provide a timeline for the project. This will help relieve the stress and anxiety that comes from a remodeling project. Licensed professionals with years of experience and knowledge guarantee their work so you can have the bathroom of your dreams.
  • Save money. Contractors, plumbers, and electricians have connections in their industry. They have access to discounts on tile, flooring, fixtures, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers. These discounts are passed on to the homeowner so they can avoid paying full retail price at the local home improvement store. The money saved may make up the difference on what you may pay the professionals instead of taking on the remodel yourself.
  • Have a flawless bathroom. By leaving it to the professionals, your bathroom remodel will look better than a DIY project. Contractors have access to materials that can result in your bathroom looking ready for a photo shoot.