The 10 Biggest Bathroom Renovation and Remodeling Mistakes You Need to Avoid

BathGems has been in the bathroom furniture industry for nearly a decade now, and we’ve worked with many remodelers and contractors on projects both big and small. With all this experience, we’ve definitely seen our fair share of bathroom remodeling mistakes, mishaps, and faux pas. We’ve curated all these mistakes here into a sort of “Ultimate Guide” to the most common errors we see people make… and how to avoid them. So, without further ado, here are the 10 Biggest Bathroom Renovation and Remodeling Mistakes You Need to Avoid!

a beautiful bathroom remodeling success

A beautiful bathroom can be yours if you just avoid these common mistakes! Via Pixabay

First and foremost, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to steer clear of…

1.) Poor Planning

This is a bit of a “given,” and if you’ve read any other remodeling do’s-and-dont’s articles before, you’ve probably seen this show up at the top of the list of things to avoid. Nothing kills a remodeling project faster (or more spectacularly) than poor planning.

poor planning

Oops. Via

Bathroom remodels and renovations, especially, are NOT things to do on a whim. If you’re just looking to make a few fast, easy, and impermanent touch-ups to your home without spending a whole lot of time or money on the project, then sure, be spontaneous as you want! But for a more substantial, functional, expensive, and permanent project – like tiling, countertops, fixtures and appliances, or even a bathroom addition or extension – you NEED to have a plan, and you need to stick to it as best you can.

So, what’s in a plan? Your master plan should include: a sound budget, a concrete sense of style or theme (which we like to call a “style guide”), a list of all the required materials and their associated costs, a general plan of attack/strategy including a timeline for each stage, guidelines for how much of the project you can complete yourself versus how much of it you will want to hire some outside help for, and a plan for the future. But beware the extreme end of over-planning, which can lead to…


2.) Financial and Stylistic Inflexibility

be flexible with your remodel

Be flexible! Via Pixabay

So you have a plan, and it’s a great plan – an airtight, deeply researched, calculated plan. All the pieces are in place and you’re ready to get on with it!

But say we’re 3 weeks into your remodel. Maybe that new bathtub doesn’t look as good with the new tile as you thought it would. Or maybe unforeseen issues with the drywall sets your plan back a few days and a few hundred dollars. Maybe all that plumbing you thought was perfectly fine is actually severely outdated and needs to be replaced.

If your plan leaves no wiggle room whatsoever, you can find yourself in quite the pickle when adversity rears its oh-so-recognizable head. So have your plan, and stick to it as well as you can – but expect the unexpected, and leave yourself a little time and money cushion so you can quickly tackle problems when they arise and move on! Also, be wary of…


3.) Being Too Strict About Your Timeline

remodeling timeline

Relax… and expect delays! Via Pixabay

This is really closely related to “financial and stylistic inflexibility,” but it tends to be WAY more common, so it gets its own section. Bathroom remodeling projects almost always exceed their estimated time to completion. This is because bathroom renovations can often pose unforeseen problems and hitches in the plan. Some of these may be stylistic or financial impediments that stall your remodel, but also be on the lookout for inspection and code delays, weather delays, stock delays, transportation delays, and even plain old “my contractor has a fever and had to cancel this week” delays. All these little setbacks can quickly add up.

Sometimes, these delays can cause you to change your plan and budget completely. It’s best to be flexible, or you might just end up pulling your hair out over these things!

And please, don’t ride your contractor too hard about these timelines, either – if he gets too stressed out under looming and rigid deadlines, he may rush the job, and this can lead to little mistakes and maybe a cheap-looking final result. A happy contractor will be better able to deliver your dream remodel, even if it takes a bit longer than expected to cross the finish line. Remember that adding artwork to a bathroom is a hare operation, but a large scale renovation is absolutely a tortoise. In a similar vein, avoid…


4.) Being Unrealistic About the Budget

monticello single bath vanity

This miiiiight be a little out of your price range. Via

Pricing out a project for your “master plan” is not too hard. What can be hard, though, is figuring out whether or not you can actually afford the remodel you want. Take a careful look at your personal finances, get a quote on the project, and just assume it will cost up to 2x as much. Such projects rarely ever do, but it is true that many projects usually cost about 20% more than originally estimated. So take your estimate, add AT LEAST 20% to it but up to double the cost, and put that exact amount into your bank account. If you only pull finances from this bank account and avoid going into debt, you will be much better off financially when all is said and done.

If you aren’t hiring contractors and are doing the remodel entirely on your own, you will obviously have a much more accurate idea of the final cost of your project – additional expenses will mostly just be your own time, and the adversity caveat as mentioned above. It’s still a good idea to have a little financial pillow for your project. Studies show that many remodelers, especially first-timers, underestimate the cost of their remodel by about 50%. So you should definitely be careful with your budget, but please, avoid…


5.) Being Too Frugal

do not be too frugal with your remodel

…On the other hand, you can probably do quite a bit better than this. Via

Being careful with your finances is NOT the same thing as being overly frugal. Being financially careful with your planning and preparations is a great thing, but avoid the trap of getting TOO stingy. You shouldn’t be reckless with your expenses, nor should you feel the need to spend a new home down-payment’s worth of cash on your bathroom remodel. Once again, having a smart and manageable budget and sticking to it is essential. But quality products and quality implementation are well worth the slightly larger price tag.

Consider this: the bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home when it comes to assessing home values. An elegant, super-functional, high-quality, brand-new bathroom can increase your home’s price tag by a significant margin. Conversely, if you go cheap, it shows. Poorly made and poorly implemented fixtures can show their age well before their time, and rushed remodels often leave little imperfections and inconsistencies all over the place.

Even if you aren’t planning on selling anytime soon, at least you’ll know that using higher-quality products will last a longer time before you need to go through the whole process again. And honestly, isn’t the total satisfaction of having a perfectly remodeled, luxurious bathroom worth the price tag?

Ultimately, as with all things, it’s all up to you to figure out how you define “value” and go for it. Just don’t be…  


6.) Expecting to “Strike It Rich”

make money from a remodel

Remodeling your bathroom, alas, won’t leave you rolling in dough. Via Pixabay

Yes, a remodeled bathroom can definitely improve the resale value of your home. But if you’re remodeling your bathroom JUST BECAUSE you want to immediately turn around and sell the whole place, you’re almost certain to lose money. Prospective renovators typically spend more remodeling the bathroom than they will recoup with the final sale value of the home.

In 2015, Remodeling Magazine’s “Annual Cost Vs. Value Report” found that the average midrange full bathroom remodel costs about $39k, but only returned $22k on resale. So if you’re going full-speed ahead on a remodel, make sure you’re doing it for YOU first, and for your home’s resale value second.

Because this remodel won’t immediately pay itself off, and you’re mostly doing this for yourself, try to make sure you aren’t…


7.) Doing “Too Much”

Forget the bells and whistles – the key to a great bathroom remodel is a sleek, effective, elegant yet simple design. Too much “noise” in the bathroom can be immensely distracting since the space is typically so small, and the bathroom functions best as a place to relax – busy decor does not a relaxing atmosphere make. Having too much “stuff” in a bathroom can make it feel cluttered and even unclean, which is a big no-no for what is primarily a hygienic space.

So, what makes up “noise?” It’s not necessarily junk, like garbage, excess storage, or things that don’t belong in the bathroom to begin with. It also includes things like overly-intricate wallpaper, hyper-stylized shower curtains, gaudy vanity lights, super-elaborate engravings and shapes on your bathroom cabinets, toilets with big fuzzy covers, asymmetric floor tile mosaics, 20-setting shower panels, heated floors, whirlpool tubs, mirrors with built-in LED lights, etc…

All this stuff does is distract the bathroom guest and takes away from the subtler, more elegant aspects of your remodel.

As a caveat: adding bells and whistles like these can indeed be nice, if luxury is what you’re going for – and you have the space for all of it without compromising the maneuverability of the bathroom. But it will quickly balloon your budget to the point you bust and have to cut corners in places that actually matter, like a quality cabinet, durable sinks and mirrors, top-tier plumbing and wiring, and other nice touch-ups that really last. Besides, most of the “bells and whistles” people add to their remodel is just another form of…


8.) Keeping Up With The Joneses

Yes, it’s tempting to follow the most up-to-date design trends when redoing any room in the house. But the bathroom is maybe one place you should aim to be a little less “trendy” and a little more “timeless.” What is “in” this year may not be a design staple 10 years from now, after all. In fact, if history is any indication, we can safely assume it won’t be.

excessive modern bathroom design

Believe it or not, this may not be stylish forever… Via
More importantly, this is YOUR bathroom. So instead of doing what’s “in,” do what you think will look best in your bathroom for decades to come. If that just so happens to be what’s “in” right now, then go for it! Just don’t follow trends and “current best practices” blindly.

Think to the future. It may be fun and cool now to have bright orange vanities and ornate light fixtures, maybe some avant-garde art hanging on the wall and lots of small decorative touches. But what happens if, say, you have a kid in 5 years? All of a sudden your super “cool” bathroom needs to be redone in a more “kid-friendly” fashion. Or maybe you just don’t like “orange” anymore. Maybe you never really did.

Know thyself! And definitely avoid…


9.) Overlooking Little Mistakes

Mistakes happen, especially in a project of this magnitude. If you notice a little mistake somewhere in the course of your remodel, fix it IMMEDIATELY. It’s easy for these little imperfections to snowball into major problems down the road if left unchecked.

bad bathroom tile job

Stuff like this will drive you crazy. Via

Even if a little mistake doesn’t completely detour or derail your remodel – such as an individual tile that’s not aligned correctly, or a slightly crooked towel rack installation – it will stand out once the project is complete, and it will definitely start to bug you in the future. Why have “a perfect bathroom, except for that one thing…” when you can do it right and simply have a “perfect bathroom”?

Speaking of overlooking little mistakes that can bite you later, be sure to avoid…


10.) Forgetting the Bathroom Fan

Yeah, this one probably sticks out on this list like a sore thumb – seriously, what’s it doing here? Well, the bathroom fan gets a nod because it is the single most-overlooked element of a bathroom remodel. It’s the thing almost no one thinks about when they’re planning everything out. If you don’t have one (which you almost certainly do), or if yours is outdated or sub-par (which it almost certainly is), you NEED to get a new one.

Even if your current bathroom fan is “adequate,” newer fans can be much more effective at displacing moisture in the air and keeping mold out of your bathroom – not to mention, newer ones tend to be quieter and more energy efficient. This can lead to financial savings in the long run, as well as better peace of mind in a quieter, more serene, and cleaner bathroom.

If you don’t want to replace your fan, at least use your bathroom remodel as an excuse to clean it. And I mean, really clean it! Take it out of the ceiling, vacuum it, wash it, clean it up so it works at optimum effectiveness! And speaking of forgetting things, this is perhaps the biggest no-no of all:


BONUS #11.) Forgetting the Paperwork

don't forget the paperwork

Without the necessary paperwork, your remodel is just a house of cards.Via

If your remodel is a particularly large project – like, say, a room expansion or addition – you will need to get the necessary building permits. Once secured, city inspectors will check in on your project at the initial and finishing stages of the renovation to make sure all your work is compliant with safety regulations and building codes. If you fail to secure these permits and inspections, and are later investigated and found to be out of code, you could be made to tear down your additions. This paperwork is massively important as without it you could be forced to scrap the entire thing and start over!

So there you have it… the “10” biggest mistakes you definitely want to avoid in your bathroom remodel.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. We know if you avoid these traps and have a good strategy in place, you’ll surely achieve the bathroom of your dreams when all is said and done! If you have any questions related to bathroom remodeling, bathroom design, or our many high-quality bathroom furniture products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We are not a contracting service, and we cannot plan a remodel for you, but we will do our best to help you make the process as easy and timely as possible.

To see our catalog, visit our category pages for bathroom vanities, faucets, bathtubs, showers, mirrors, and more.

Sources and Further Reading:

June 2024
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