7 Rules for a Smooth Bathroom Remodel

Helpful advice for tackling your next project.

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn / Southern Living .

We've partnered with online home-improvement network Porch.com to give you the skinny on how to master your remodel. Here, Porch Editor in Chief Anne Reagan shares her best tips.

Sometimes it's the smallest remodeling projects that cause the biggest headaches. The bathroom may only account for a small percentage of your home's square footage, but the amount of labor, as well as the expense, can sometimes make this room painful to renovate. Follow our top tips for a cool, calm bathroom remodel .

Rule 1: Plan the project.

Before you begin anything, write a detailed list of everything you want to accomplish. This will ensure that from tile grout to baseboard trim you know all the tasks that will need to be completed, and potential contractors will understand the scope of work in giving estimates.

Rule 2: Create a budget.

Whether you've hired a professional or not, it's up to you to manage the budget and monitor where the money is being spent. Homeowners often concern themselves with the cost of materials but forget to ask questions about shipping, delivery, installation, or permitting costs. Once you've finalized your wish list, write down all associated costs and make sure the expected costs fit within your budget. Additionally, experts recommend setting aside an extra 10 – 15% of your budget to pay for unexpected costs.

Rule 3: Set a schedule.

Create a work-back schedule to keep track of delivery dates, subcontractor workdays, and holidays. The schedule will ensure that you don't make scheduling errors, like having the tile installer show up before the tile arrives. If you plan on doing most of the work yourself, having a general idea of the expected time frame for completion will help keep you motivated and on track.

Rule 4: Don't do it all yourself.

Whether you're a seasoned DIY pro or not, there are many remodeling tasks that a homeowner shouldn't do. For example, removing lead paint, load-bearing walls, or asbestos should never be done by an untrained or unlicensed worker. And while a homeowner can usually replace a toilet or upgrade light fixtures, working with complex plumbing and electrical systems should be done by a licensed professional who understands current building codes.

Rule 5: Design for efficiency.

Selecting appliances and fixtures that promote energy efficiency and water conservation are good for the planet and your wallet. Replacing older fixtures, like toilets, with newer models will save you gallons of water and money each month. Selecting windows that are Energy Star-rated can reduce your heating and cooling costs.

Rule 6: Keep resale in mind.

Neutral colors are always a winner – it's the best palette for homeowners to envision their own style and makes the room easy to stage. Additionally, visit houses for sale that are similar to yours and see what types of bathroom upgrades have been done, like in-floor heating, walk-in showers or custom cabinetry.

Rule 7: Communicate to reduce confusion.

The biggest source of remodeling frustration is usually due to a lack of communication. Clarify everything, ask lots of questions, and make sure that you aren't the source of miscommunication. Assumptions can lead to trouble, and it's far easier to have a weekly or daily project check-in (even if it's with your spouse) than let the project roll forward in a wave of confusion.

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