Some home remodeling projects are pretty straight forward and can be knocked out pretty quickly. They may not be that costly either.

But then there are other projects that require a lot of planning and money, and they take time. They can additionally be very disruptive to your family if you are having to do without a major room in your home.

Two of the biggest remodeling projects that fit this description are the kitchen and bathroom. And they are the most expensive, too.

Redoing a bathroom, especially the master bathroom, requires a lot of homework and a pile of cash. You can’t just demolish your bathroom, including removing the sheetrock, in a morning and run down to Home Depot and load up everything you need in a pickup truck and knock it out over the weekend. Maybe it works on HGTV, where life is compressed into one hour.

Where do you start? I’d suggest you list all the new features you want to put in your new bathroom. You may want to pour over home decorating magazines, the internet or go to a few plumbing showrooms to get ideas and prices. I’m sure you’ll get great ideas by seeing all the latest and greatest things now available. The price tags will add a little reality to your budget. 

The budget will prevail. You will have to start making hard choices. And there will be many hard choices because a bathroom has a lot of moving parts, both visible and invisible. Are you thinking of moving walls and plumbing fixtures? That’s going to be costly. By far the cheapest approach is to leave the existing fixtures where they are, but if you feel the current layout isn’t working for you, know this can get expensive. 

Get all the parts you need for your bathroom onsite before you start tearing apart your home. Different products take different amounts of time to get and probably come from all over the country. Missing a key component like a tub or vanity can stop your job in its tracks. Then your contractor may move on to some other job and come back to you later as you stare at a partially completed unusable bathroom for a few weeks. 

Hopefully, you have another full bathroom you and your family can use while yours is out of commission. If not, life is going to be interesting for a while — if not downright unpleasant — if the project drags on. Of course, that would never happen with construction … Everything is always done on time and on budget! Right? The truth is you may have to shower at your gym or your in-laws’ home for the duration of the remodel. Hopefully, you won’t need to decorate your yard with a Port-A-Potty. 

As you’re tearing your bathroom apart, you may find unexpected problems like hidden dry rot from leaking faucets, toilet or tub. Be careful if your home was built before 1978 as it may contain hazardous materials like asbestos and lead. These will require special handling and disposal and of course more money.

Finally, plan your remodel for the future. If you plan on staying here for a long time, make sure that as you age, your tub or shower will accommodate your needs over time.  

What will a bathroom remodel cost? That’s kind of a hard question to answer because of all the variables like tile, faucets, tubs, cabinets. If you are handy, you can save a bundle on labor by doing the carpentry and tile work yourself. But your involvement may slow down the completion time as you are most likely working on this after your main job and playing with the kids. Figure it can cost anywhere from $20,000 up to maybe $50,000. As to timing, I’d guess it should take three weeks to complete. 

But just think of the bonding experience this will give you with your family as all of you share one bathroom for a few weeks. I’m sure the mornings will be interesting with everyone trying to get to work and school.

Steve Hyman is the broker and owner of Century 21 Sunset Properties. He can be reached at 726-6346 or century21sunset.com 

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