Big Family Bathroom Renovation on a Tiny Budget

This bathroom renovation project has been on the back burner for a while, but it’s time to get started on it. It’s been a long time since we tackled a big project like this, anything can happen!

Big Family Bathroom Renovation on a Tiny Budget|Designers Sweet Spot|

Big Renovation, Tiny Budget

We have a leaky bath. This bathroom is on our second floor and is shared between the 4 upstairs bedrooms. When we bought this old house two years ago, we knew this would eventually be on our renovation plan. We had a vision to expand it, make a walk in shower and add a double vanity someday.

That day has come! Shortly after we moved in, we discovered the previous owners had cleverly concealed cracks in the shower surround by filling them with caulk. Over time, the caulk has peeled away leaving leaky cracks in it’s place. ARRRGHHH!

It is unfortunate that the inspector never found the cracks, we would have made sure it was fixed before we bought the house. However, it is too late for that now. We are sure the shower is leaking into the wall behind it, just not sure how bad the damage will be when we open it up.

Big Family Bath Renovation on a Tiny Budget|Designers Sweet Spot|

To make matters worse, we have had a lot of problems with clogged drains lately. The plumbing is old, is not vented and needs to be replaced. How do you do all this on a tiny budget??

Bathroom Renovation Master Plan

We are not strangers to renovations. We have renovated houses for years and have a lot of experience with how things can go wrong once you get started on a big project. This is why we have chosen to carefully think through all the options before starting.

We have drawn several different design plans. The plans range from easy to difficult. We aren’t really sure which one we will choose until we open up that back wall behind the shower and see how much water damage there is. The shower surround will be the first to come out then we can decide on a course of action.

Plan A:

If the damage is minimal and the studs are not rotten, we can put up tile backer board and install subway tile and a few decorative tiles around the existing tub. A bit of grout and all will be well! This renovation will cost about $250.00 if we do all the work. The rest of the room would remain untouched. We already have the tile, here’s a peek:

Big Family Bathroom Renovation on a Tiny Budget|Designers Sweet Spot|

Beautiful 4″ square Mexican tiles.

We bought a case of this beautiful Mexican tile a few months ago, anticipating this project! Can’t wait to see it in the new bath!

Big Family Bathroom Renovation on a Tiny Budget|Designers Sweet Spot|

The itty-bitty toilet and pedestal sink make for a lousy bathroom.

Plan B:

This plan is worse case scenario. If the studs and floor behind the shower surround are rotten, we will need to remove the entire tub. Then replace the 2 x 4 framing, sub floor, and add tile backer board. We are able to do this work ourselves. If this is the case, and we have to do that, we will also replace the old plumbing and add needed venting to bring the plumbing up to code (probably will have to hire a plumber for this). When we started thinking about our plans, we decided we could even expand the entire bath since we have to take out a wall out anyway. Here’s our thought process:

By moving the shower back 4 feet into our master bedroom (which is behind the shower wall), we can get an extra large walk in shower in this bath. We can also move the sink to accommodate  a double vanity and move the toilet over to get a full size toilet fixture.

Big Family Bathroom Renovation on a Tiny Budget|Designers Sweet Spot|

Temporary storage shelves above the toilet.

As you can see in this photo, there is zero storage in this room. I used to love pedestal sinks, but the complete lack of storage just isn’t worth it. When we moved in, my husband built these shelves above the toilet for storage. However, when he went to put them up, we discovered that the studs in the wall are almost 30″ apart. What??? There should be studs every 16 inches. Some do it yourself-er cut a lot of corners when they installed this bath! We can’t hang much of anything on the wall because there are no studs to anchor anything. Not good!

The toilet in this room is also a problem since it is a mini-sized one. I call it the child size toilet. What were they thinking when they installed that?? No one wants a mini sized toilet!

City code requires a minimum of 18″ clearance from the center of the toilet to the wall or any other fixture (according to the BHG blog, you can read more here) As you can see, we have about 8″ of space between the toilet and the wall, clearly a code violation.

The itty-bitty potty has to go away for good!

Renovation Expenses Estimate

Plan B expenses will run considerably more, even with us doing a majority of the work.  Here’s a quick estimate:

Tile, grout and backer board supplies about $350.00 (We already have the tile, same as plan A)

Estimate to move shower plumbing back 4 feet, move toilet and add additional sink hookup $3000.00 (I am guessing here, it could be considerably more. We will have to hire a professional plumber for this work.)

New sink and shower faucets $500.00

Double vanity $500.00 (we may be able to save some money here)

Double Sinks $500.00

New full size toilet $300.00

Flooring $200.00

Lighting $200.00

Electrical work $300.00

Big Family Tiny Budget Bath Renovation|Designers Sweet Spot|

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Summing it Up

We can install the vanity and sinks ourselves, but the plumber would have to install the shower base and toilet to guarantee no leaks. Wowzers, we are looking at a $5000-$6000 renovation. This is a lot of money, however it would be so much more if we hired all the work done, we will do as much as we can ourselves. One of the estimates we got for the entire project was $30,000. No way! Ideally we would like to get the entire job done for about $4000. We will see how that goes!

The good news is that this renovation will add a lot of value to our home for resale, but we may have to compromise in some areas to get the job done within our budget.

Lets hope we can stick with plan A! We will be gutting this room very soon and I will keep you posted on our progress!

If you need more bathroom ideas, check out these posts:

10 Beautiful Farmhouse Bathrooms

Bathroom Update on a Budget

Beautiful Bathroom Tile Roundup

10 Steps to a Fixer Upper Style Bathroom, Budget Friendly

Top 20 Bathroom Transformations

Five Dollar Bathroom Update



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