Project: Transform a one-bedroom unit by splitting the master bath into two; adding a second bathroom and an extra bedroom.
Before: When Jeanne and Philip found out they were having a baby, it was just the incentive they needed to renovate. Changing the layout of their 1,000-square-foot apartment would be more efficient for their growing family. They wanted more space to enjoy while raising their little one—without being on top of one another. Luckily, with the help of Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, they posted their project and found a contractor who could help fulfill their vision of adding a second bathroom and bedroom by splitting up the master bath.
They discussed turning their one-bedroom into a two-bedroom and splitting their master bath into two with their contractor. Luckily, there was enough square footage to play with. The previous owner had taken a closet next to the master bathroom to make a large walk-in shower. The couple’s Sweeten contractor would use some of that space to make a guest bath and second bedroom.
After: The couple decided a design-build firm would be a good fit since maximizing their apartment’s limited space would be tricky. Plus, the contractor handled the architectural documents required by the co-op board and filed for city permits. The family’s main goal was to turn the guest bath into an ADA-compliant space. To do so, they had to add a step up due to underlying drains. Without it, the room would not be able to function in such a capacity. An ADA-compliant space follows a federal guideline to provide greater access to people with limited mobility.
“I asked the designer to come up with different looks, then mixed and matched,” Jeanne says. “We wanted to be a bit more forward and get funkier.”
Bonus: A new wall-hung toilet takes less floor space than a traditional toilet would.
Style finds: Toilet: Kohler. Vanity: Fresca. Sin/faucet: Grohe. Medicine cabinet: Robern. Toilet paper holder and a hand towel hook Ginger. Subway tile and herringbone mosaic: Nemo Tile. Flooring Daltile. Rain shower and hand-held system: Hansgrohe.
Give new life to your kitchen. Here’s what you need to know on the renovation costs for a kitchen in NYC.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.
Project: Bring a vintage pink-and-black bathroom into modern-day while keeping it classic.
Before: For Peggy and Jack, renovating the master bath in their circa late-1800s brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, was an easy decision: they had leaks in the bathroom that couldn’t be ignored anymore. They were nearing the end of their twins’, Cayley and Sam, college careers so they could refocus their financial commitments. The outdated pink-and-black tile and the oddly-placed shower also contributed to the necessary overhaul. They wanted to modernize their Brooklyn bathroom, but not load it with trendy design statements that’d be “out” in a few years.
Their brownstone is configured as an owner-occupied triplex and basement rental unit—and they have grand plans for the historic building in the future. “ We have a multigenerational plan for living in our house, so we aren’t concerned about short-term resale maximization,” says Peggy. “We wanted to stay true to the spirit and look of the classic brownstone style, but update the bathroom with a water-efficient toilet and fixtures.”
After: “The idea was to have this renovation be fine for decades,” says Peggy. “We wanted something classic, electrical and plumbing up to code, and environmentally friendly but that would respect the aesthetic of our centenarian house.” Installing safety compliant features like easy tub access, grab bars, and non-slip flooring was also a priority.
They posted their project on Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, and found the right contractor for their Brooklyn bathroom renovation project.
They originally planned to move the tub under the window, which had been done with their kids’ bathroom a few years ago. “We like to take baths, and were motivated to expand floor space and have the window view when soaking,” said Peggy. “However, we realized that also meant we couldn’t have grab bars on a window wall.”
Their Sweeten contractor referred them to a designer, who then consulted on the space’s layout. The designer suggested leaving the tub in place and moving the toilet to make more space for a larger vanity. Good advice! The end result of the renovation is undeniable: “It’s clean, fresh, serene…and has no leaks!” The couple also used six inches of space behind the shower wall for building in double storage niches.
Bonus: They repurposed their hallway mirror for their bathroom, since it had the vintage feel they wanted.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation.
What you could spend on materials, labor, and permits for your bathroom remodel
“After” photos by Kate Glicksberg for Sweeten
(Above) Katherine + Gus’ bathroom renovation
With a steady flow of inspiring Pinterest boards and design blogs, it’s easy to reimagine how your dream bathroom can become your sanctuary. To get you there, Sweeten, a free renovation platform that matches homeowners with licensed general contractors and tracks their projects, offers a roadmap of the elements you could encounter in a New York City bathroom renovation. From building requirements to permits and design, this guide will help nail down your scope and better align real costs with a realistic budget.
Take a look at the overall averages based on NYC remodels in 2019, according to Remodeling‘s Cost vs. Value Report. These costs end up being higher for NYC than the national average*.
Mid-range renovation: $29,585
Upscale renovation: $88,523
*National averages were $21,377 for a mid-range bathroom renovation and $67,106 for an upscale renovation.
Remodeling a bathroom all at once
While it can be tempting to apply à la carte prices to individual elements of the work, a full bathroom renovation is an integrated process that involves design, materials, installation, and plumbing. If your bathroom has one or two areas of concern, you might decide to swap out an individual fixture or two. You can replace a toilet or vanity or take on some limited retiling and pay solely for the cost of the new fixtures and the hours of installation work.
But it can be misleading to break up and price out each step: even if you are just redoing fixtures and tile work, you may find you need to replace the sheetrock on the wall and address issues behind the walls, such as old valves, ancient drain pipes, etc. A gut renovation allows you to plan more broadly, so you can get more done, in the right sequence, and more cost-effectively.
Low to high-end costs for bathroom materials and finishes
These are the visible parts of a bathroom renovation, and probably the aspect you’ve spent the most time thinking about. Take a look at the range of pricing for various fixtures, materials, and finishes in the chart below. On the low end, you’ll find items sourced from big-box stores like Home Depot, Walmart, or IKEA. Prices increase if you choose to use their interior boxes but upgrade or customize the function or style, such as the door fronts. On the high end are highly customized, handmade, or imported items.
How much materials for a bathroom remodel cost
Wall and floor tile: Low-end – $3 per square foot (psf), Mid-range – $15 psf, High-end – $35 psf
Sink: Low-end – $50, Mid-range – $150, High-end – $500 and up
Vanity: Low-end – $250, Mid-range – $1,000, High-end – $2,000 and up
Budget for permits, design, and everything behind-the-scenes
In contrast to visible upgrades such as fixtures and finishes, there are some unavoidable behind-the-scenes investments to consider when creating an initial budget.
1.) Building requirements
For those in apartments, building requirements can play a significant role in dictating design and budget needs. These requirements can range from insurance coverage minimums, which limit your ability to work with professionals who aren’t carrying high-value insurance policies, to general alteration agreements that require anyone doing any work in the building to have far-reaching coverage for problems they may never encounter, like asbestos removal or collapse scenarios.
Sweeten contractor Thomas explained, “Buildings are becoming less flexible on their [insurance] requirements which cause us to raise prices to keep up with those needs.” The contractors who can afford to work in buildings with more extensive requirements tend to have higher operating costs and can meet higher insurance requirements, more stringent debris removal expectations, limited noise and hours-of-work requirements, and stricter parking rules. While there is no exact figure on this, you may see this translate into higher rates overall for teams that can meet those demands.
2.) City permits
Plumbing services: $2,000 – $3,500 and higher
Plumbing permits: up to $2,000 and as high as $5,000 per permit
Electrical permits: $900
Asbestos inspection: $500 to $1,000
Tackling a bathroom remodel means planning for plumbing services and permits. Any plumbing work that exceeds a minor repair or a direct swap of a similar fixture requires a permit from the City’s Department of Buildings, which can run up to $2,000 and as high as $5,000 per permit. Plumbing is a specialized trade that often comes with hourly rates; expect to budget between $2,000 and $3,500 (or higher) for a full bathroom renovation.
If you’re adding outlets or doing electrical work, an electrical permit may be needed, which can run close to $900. You may also need an asbestos inspection, depending on the building requirements and your plumbing plans, which cost $500 to $1,000.
In the design stage, plan to collaborate with the experts you hire to produce detailed drawings that account for all physical elements of the bathroom. A schematic drawing is usually presented to the building board as part of the approval process, which needs to outline the locations of the major fixtures as well as specifications for the vanity and tub/shower, and lighting. If you plan to rework the layout or convert a bathtub to a shower or vice versa, you are automatically looking at a baseline cost of $25,000. This is because you’ll need to hire a registered architect to file a permit application certifying that the plan complies with applicable codes and laws. An architect or interior designer will typically charge 15 to 20 percent of the project’s construction costs for his or her fee.
4.) Demolition and site prep
In this stage, labor is needed to ensure that your bathroom renovation maintains its value over time. Old materials and fixtures need to be pulled out and disposed of, which can be complicated on busy city streets with limited parking. This difficulty will be reflected in the contractor’s rate. Almost without exception, your contractor may need to strip the walls and flooring to frame and level before any installation occurs. This behind-the-scenes step is critical and labor-intensive and can cost an average of $2,000.
If your home is new or the sub-floor is concrete, leveling needs may be minimal, but otherwise, you probably need to account for floor leveling and new drywall or plastering before any surface work can get going.
Exposing the existing conditions inside walls during this leveling and framing step will also allow your contractor to address plumbing or electrical issues before you hook up a new plumbing fixture. You may find it necessary to replace all horizontal plumbing work to the building’s “stack” (the main vertical lines that run throughout the building), and run new wiring to head off plumbing and electrical problems that you may have unwittingly inherited.
You’ll want to factor in costs that support the success and longevity of the work, including prep work to protect floors and valuables (which can add $600 to $900) and waterproofing steps (which can add $1,000). This is critical for the project’s foundation alignment and infrastructure.
Installation is the final stage to incorporate all of the materials you’ve purchased. The craftsmanship involved in the installation of all the pieces varies in accordance with the size of your bathroom and the degree of customization you need to make all of the pieces fit.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend 30 percent or less of your total project cost on visible materials, fixtures, and finishes, with the rest going to behind-the-scenes costs such as labor, permits, and fees.
6.) Overhead costs
General contractors always factor in a percentage of the project to cover overhead costs, including insurance, administrative support, and the inevitable costs of growing a business. Sweeten contractors range from two-men crews to much larger entities that employ dozens of staff (including designers, project managers, millworkers and laborers, bookkeepers and operations staff). No matter the size of your contractor’s business, however, you will absorb some of the cost increases they bear from year to year, though not necessarily dollar for dollar.
Sweeten contractor Aaron explained that in the last year, there have been specific increases of compliance, certificates and safety measures imposed on MEP subcontractors (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) by the Department of Buildings leading to higher costs. While Sweeten contractors attempt to explore all avenues to stay competitive, it is an industry that is affected by trade. The prices you’re quoted at any given time may not be the same six months or a year from now. Prices on labor and materials fluctuate and this will be reflected in your overall quote.
You have a fair amount of choice in deciding what to spend on the material aspects of a bathroom renovation. Less obvious are the costs that are the backbone and labor of the work overall, no matter what you spend on materials. Having a good handle on the real costs involved will allow you to better align your budget, avoid surprises, and get you that much closer to your dream bathroom.
Find out how long a bathroom renovation takes—and what’s involved—in our step-by-step guide and process timeline.
Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.
A step-by-step guide and timeline for a bathroom renovation
How long does a bathroom renovation take? In general, our Sweeten contractors say that the construction period for a bathroom project will average about two to three weeks. Overall, expect the renovation to take between six weeks to three months for the planning, execution, and wrapping up loose ends. If you plan to move plumbing or electrical, be prepared to apply for city permits and board approvals, the biggest culprits for lengthening renovation timelines. Sweeten, a free renovation service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, breaks down a bath renovation step-by-step.
While the attention is usually on the most visible construction phase, a lot needs to happen before picking up that sledgehammer. Here, the details on each box that needs to be ticked before you break ground on the project.
STEP 1: Close on your property (1-3 months)
While some renovators already own, a significant number of homeowners are in contract or preparing to close on a property when they begin planning a renovation. You should wait until you have closed on the property, with keys in hand, before doing anything. If you’re in a hurry, wait until you’ve at least signed the contract before beginning the design process.
STEP 2: Post your project (1-3 days)
First things first: Post your project to Sweeten and begin soliciting bids. On the Sweeten site, add the details about the space you want to renovate, your inspiration photos (optional but useful for our matchmakers), and any other information that would help in finding your perfect contractor. This guide is a practical read about what information to supply your contractor with so that he or she can provide an accurate bid. You will receive 3-5 matches within three days, and you can check out the contractors’ profiles online. Now’s your chance to take a look at reviews from clients and photos of their past projects to see whether they might be a good fit, and indicate who you’d like to be introduced to.
STEP 3: Schedule site visits and solicit bids (1-3 weeks)
After you’ve previewed the Sweeten contractors’ profiles, decide who you’d like to set up a meeting. An on-site visit is the best way for a contractor to understand the scope of the project, the physical possibilities, and limitations of the space, and for the two of you to see if you hit it off. After you schedule your on-site visit, check out our blog post about how to prepare for the meeting. You should expect a written bid within 5-7 business days after your visit.
STEP 4: Level bids and choose a contractor (1-2 weeks)
Once all the written bids have come in, it’s time to compare and contrast, which Sweeten client services can help walk you through. This primer on leveling bids might come in handy. If you have follow-up questions, now is the time to ask. You can also schedule time with a Sweeten project advisor to walk you through the various bids and weigh in on the selection.
STEP 5: Sign contract and finalize construction schedule (1 week)
Once you’ve decided on a contractor, he or she will put together a contract for you to review. This will typically include a description of the work to be done, an outline of costs, as well as the timing of payments throughout the project.
STEP 6: Obtain permits and approvals (ranges widely)
Of all the steps where hiccups or delays might occur, this is it. Obtaining the correct permits and board approvals have held up many a renovation, but don’t be daunted: our contractors are well-versed in navigating these processes and can advise you on how best to achieve your renovation goals with the least amount of hassle. If you’re moving plumbing or gas lines, you’ll need an architect and additional DOB permits. Sweeten homeowners have reported obtaining approvals in as little as two weeks—but it’s more common for it to take a couple months. If you live in a stand-alone house, you won’t need to worry about building board approvals, but you’ll still need the requisite city permits for any electrical or plumbing work to make sure that everything is up to code.
STEP 7: Source materials (ranges widely)
If you are responsible for sourcing all or some of the materials in your renovation, be sure to place the orders as soon as the design plan is finished. Certain items have long lead times, and you don’t want that tub to hold up the entire renovation. If time is a concern, look at what’s currently in stock and ready to ship. Speak with your contractor about timing the product delivery to coincide with time of installation.
STEP 8: Tell your neighbors (15 minutes)
Be a good neighbor and warn yours that a renovation is beginning imminently. Tell them what to expect and how long the project is slated to last. It’s always easier to stomach the disruption when you know there’s an end in sight! It doesn’t hurt to bring some sweets, a bottle of wine, or a gift card for a local coffee shop.
Note: While most of the steps under “Construction” are your contractor’s responsibility, it’s important to understand what should be happening when. The most important steps you’ll be in charge of here are making scheduled payments to your contractor (outlined in your contract), and keeping your schedule open for several hours a week to answer questions about details or changes that come up over the course of construction.
STEP 9: It’s demo time (1 day)
Out with the old! Now that you’re done with the paperwork, it’s time (for your contractor) to pick up that sledgehammer. Be sure to protect the items that are staying with tarp or plastic. Depending on how large your bathroom is, and how extensive the renovation, this shouldn’t take more than 4 hours.
STEP 10: Reroute plumbing and electrical (1-2 days)
Now that you’ve stripped the space down to the studs, it’ll be easy to get new plumbing or electrical where it needs to go. Consider whether any plans need to be altered now that you can see what’s behind the walls.
STEP 11: City inspections and sign-offs (1 hour on-site)
If you needed city permits, you may need inspections and a sign-off before closing up the walls, and a final sign-off as well. (Check out what the city has to say about plumbing permits here, and electrical permits here.) While it may take the inspector an hour to do his job at the site, scheduling the actual appointment could take days or weeks.
While a master plumber is typically allowed to sign off on pipework for water lines in the case of a no-show by the city inspector, an inspector must examine and approve any work on gas lines. You are not allowed to close up the walls and move onto the next phase of the project before this inspection happens.
Note: With electrical work, inspectors generally are scheduled for visits once the project is 100 percent complete, and they will check the electrical panel, junction boxes, and outlets. Sometimes, because of city bureaucracy and delays, your electrical inspection may be rescheduled two or three times. Check with your contractor or architect about what your project requires.
STEP 12: Installation – floor tiles (½ – 1 day)
To prevent having to redo the flooring if you decide to reconfigure your space in the future, make sure that the flooring is consistent throughout the space, even if some of it will be hidden.
STEP 13: Installation completion (1-3 days)
Installation of everything else, including the tub, vanity and sink, toilet, and any built-in shelving. Tiling, lighting, and hardware usually come last.
STEP 14: Clean-up (1 day)
Typically, contracts allow that the space is left in “broom-swept” condition. However, you may want to hire post-construction cleaning specialists to make sure that your new floor is spic-and-span clean. For a bathroom renovation, you may still want to have the service clean your entire home since construction dust has an annoying tendency to settle in the most unlikely places.
The finish line is in sight. But don’t forget these last—but important—steps.
STEP 15: Final walk-through with contractor (30 minutes)
Review the work with your contractor: try all the drawers and doors, look closely at the edges and grout lines, and make sure everything is working the way it should. If there are any problems, point it out and add them to the punch list. The contractor will either fix it on the spot (if it’s minor) or set up another time to return. Sweeten’s founder + CEO, Jean Brownhill advises to keep notepads in each space, and do not speak to your contractor for two weeks during this time, but take notes of what needs fixing as you live in your new home.
STEP 16: Punch list items (1-5 days)
Depending on what the items are—anything from straightening a cabinet door to waiting on installing that last out-of-stock item—it could take anywhere from a day to several weeks. When it’s on the long side, though, that is usually due to backordered items. Otherwise, your contractor should be able to return and fix everything in a few days.
STEP 17: The final payment (10 minutes)
You’ve been making installments throughout the renovation, but when the last item on your punch list has been addressed, it’s time to pay the remaining percentage to your contractor.
This timeline provides a detailed look at the various aspects of renovating and a range of how long each step should take. While some factors may be outside of both your and the contractor’s control, the key is isolating the steps that you think might be obstacles in advance, and allotting more time to get them done.
Wondering how much remodeling your bath will cost? Check out our guide on bathroom renovation costs.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.