Adventures in home improvement – Bathroom Remodel

[Updated with actual amounts] – 3/17/2010

Oh the fun of home improvement projects.  For the last month or so, my wife and I have been playing to upgrade our “master bathroom”.  When we bought the house (yes I bought a house, after selling my condo at the peak and renting for 2 years), the master bath was pretty small.  It had a basic shower/tub, some “water damage” in the floor and wall and only a single sink.  Now that we have been here a little while, we have decided to upgrade.

The original budget for this project was $15k.  Since that is what I paid for a bathroom remodel approximately 6 years ago and figured it would still be a reasonable amount.  Unfortunately, after getting 3 bids from 3 contractors, we realized this price wasn’t really practical given our goals.  So while the budget went up, we are doing our best to save on costs where we can.

One big place we decided to save some money was by doing our own demolition.  Assuming you do the right prep work, have some help and don’t mind getting dirty… demolition work is relatively simple.

For our remodel, total bids for demolition ranged from $1200 to $1800.  This included $400-$600 in “dumping fees” depending on the contractor.  The work required taking down 10 walls “to the studs” (in two rooms), removing the floor “down to the sub floor”, removing doors, sinks, tub, everything.  Here is the breakdown:

Item Approximate Cost
Demolition  $             1,200.00
Dumping / Cleanup  $                600.00
General Contractor Fee (15%)  $                270.00
WA Sales Tax  $                196.65
Total  $             2,266.65

As you can see, that’s not chump change.  So I decided to do the work myself.  I borrowed some tools from friends / neighbors and spent approximately 20 hours of my own time.  Here is the breakdown:

Item Approximate Cost
Hired son of a friend (16 hours)  $                  160.00
Dumping / Cleanup (Hired dump service)  $                  200.00
General Contractor Fee (15%)  $                     0.00
WA Sales Tax  $                     0.00
Supplies (paper, tape, masks, gloves, trash bags, tarps, saw blades, etc)  $                   80.00
New wet / dry Shop Vac + Hepa Filter  $                 120.00
Sold the tub, sink, fixtures on Craig’s List  $                  -60.00
Total  $                500.00

So by doing my own demo, I was able to save myself approximately $1800, I got a great workout, learned a lot and I now have my very own Shop Vac.  This means my “hourly rate” was $80 an hour, not counting the stuff I was able to sell.  Not bad!

BTW – I have seen some sites say its a remodeling “myth” that doing your own demo saves money.  But I don’t know if that is the case.  Here are things I did to make sure things went well:

  • Picked a contractor that wouldn’t mind we doing the demo
  • Have him tell me what he wants out and to what leave
  • Prepared the area for the work (taped off areas with plastic sheeting, put down painters paper on the floors, isolated the area to prevent dust from traveling)
  • Prepared to work safely – Shoes, long selves, work pants, gloves, goggles and masks
  • Had the right tools – I have done my own demo before and had the right tools, I also needed a Sawzall.
  • I hired professionals to haul the trash away for proper recycling
  • We were pretty careful to not damage anything.  We took our time, didn’t go all nutty and spread the work out over two weekends.

Knock on wood, but I feel things went pretty darn well.  More later as the adventure continues.


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2 Responses to “Adventures in home improvement – Bathroom Remodel”

  1. James

    Nice savings!

    James, Bathrooms dealer

  2. David

    One of the least expensive, yet immediately saves you money, home improvements is a bathroom bidet sprayer. The ultimate bathroom retreat is not complete without a bidet or better yet….the hand bathroom bidet sprayer. The hand sprayer gives you superior control and water volume and if the bathroom was not designed to allow for a bidet(the majority of them) it offers the convenience of installation on the existing toilet AND you don't have to get up and move every time! You will pay for it many times over in toilet paper savings which makes this a very green thing to do. Available at