Bathroom Planning Guide

Remodeling or adding a bathroom is one of the best ways to invest in your house. An average bathroom remodel, for example, often earns about a 70% return on the investment, so you'll recoup most of what you spend if you decide to sell your house. Besides that, your bathroom is critical to your health and hygiene, and done right, it can become a spa-like refuge where you can release the tension of the day. Spend some time planning to get it right, and you'll enjoy it for years to come.

Figure out your function

Though it sounds self-evident, it is critical to your project to understand how your bathroom will be used. How many people will use it? What kind of wear and tear will it see? What kind of storage will you need? Are you going for a spa feel? Is this the main bathroom of the house or is it tucked away for guests? Questions like these are important to answer so you can start determining what kind of materials, storage, fixtures, and space you will need.Figure out your function. Though it sounds self-evident, it is critical to your project to uned.

Assess your space

Take a good hard look at your bathroom and ask yourself if the way the space is organized works for you. Next, look for things you don't like. For example, is the vanity too narrow? Too low? Do you have enough storage? Do you want a bigger shower but don't really need a tub? Is the room too dark? Are the finishes outdated? Determine what you need to fix, what you want to change, and what will work just the way it is. Having a good sense of understanding what you want to do with your space will help you determine if you should undertake a cosmetic update or a full-scale remodel, or something in between the two.

Set a budget

Knowing up front how much you have to spend will make it easier to know when you can splurge a little on a special fixture or when you need to put on the brakes. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that you should plan to spend 5-10% of your home's value on a bathroom remodel.

Expect the unexpected

It's usually wise to build a 10-15% cushion into your budget to accommodate hidden issues. You never know what your contractor will find behind a wall or under a floor, and you'll need to take care of unexpected pitfalls before you can finish the job.

Find your style

When it's time to get started, you'll probably find that the choices are overwhelming. Knowing your style-modern, traditional, contemporary, rustic, etc.-when you start the process will give you a place to start and will help you put some order to the vast array of possibilities. There are lots of online tools and surveys to help you determine what you like, if you don't already have a clear picture.

Set a budget

Once you decide on a new bathroom, you'll be excited to see the finished product. It will be tempting to move quickly, but go so fast that you cut corners or overlook details. Ultimately, your budget will suffer for it, as inadequate planning is the leading cause of cost overruns on projects like this. Make sure you take time to get the job done right so you can enjoy your bathroom for years to come.