Skip to content
Bathroom Remodeling Hidden Costs

5 Hidden Costs of Bathroom Remodeling

A bathroom remodel can bring new life to your home, add value to the property, or simply create a personal sanctuary for you to enjoy. However, in this excitement, many homeowners stumble upon hidden costs that can disrupt their bathroom remodeling plans, stretch their budget, or even halt the project entirely.

While many of these hidden costs are unpredictable for homeowners, an experienced remodeler can help you avoid them. Serving the Portland Metro Area, Lamont Bros. Design & Construction is one of Oregon’s most trusted design-build remodeling firms. We’ve helped hundreds of homeowners embark on their bathroom remodeling journeys and witnessed firsthand how hidden costs can impact a project.

In this article, we’ll shed light on five of the most common hidden costs in bathroom remodeling. By the end of this article, you’ll be armed with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, ensuring your bathroom remodel is a success both aesthetically and financially. The 5 hidden costs we’ll discuss include:

1. Unforeseen Water Damage

When embarking on their bathroom remodeling journey, some homeowners encounter an uninvited guest: water damage. Given the bathroom’s constant exposure to water, it’s no surprise that hidden water issues can lurk beneath the surface. Addressing this challenge swiftly and completely is essential to the longevity of the remodeled space and the health and safety of the occupants.

Signs of Water Damage

It’s important to understand that water damage doesn’t always announce its presence with glaringly obvious signs. Sometimes, the indicators are subtle. Persistent musty odors, a constant feeling of dampness, or even sporadic mold spots on walls and ceilings can all signal underlying water damage. Peeling paint or wallpaper, warped flooring, or tiles that have started to lift are other telltale signs.

How Can Water Damage Affect Your House?

Turning a blind eye to these indicators can result in a cascade of complications. Structurally, water damage can damage the finishes in your bathroom and weaken the structural elements of the home, leading to significant repair costs down the line.

From a health perspective, unchecked water issues can give rise to mold and mildew, leading to respiratory issues and even allergic reactions. Additionally, leaving water damage untreated can compromise the outcome of your bathroom remodel, rendering your investment fruitless.

Water damage in a bathroom can significantly increase the cost of your remodel. At Lamont Bros., we recently completed a project in Happy Valley, Oregon where a main structural beam had significant rot due to water damage. To repair it, our team re-engineered and replaced the section of the beam, which cost $100,000.

Water damage in a shower floor

How to Address Water Damage

Once you’ve identified water damage, you’ll need to take immediate action. The first step involves a thorough assessment to determine the extent and source of the damage. Hiring professionals can evaluate the damage comprehensively and put the appropriate repair measures in place.

It might be tempting to skirt around the issue to keep costs down. However, investing in professional solutions early on can prevent more expensive repairs in the future. Remember, a bathroom remodel is not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating a functional and safe space for you and your family.

2. Plumbing Defects

As homeowners dive deeper into their bathroom renovation project, another unpredictable obstacle they may face is plumbing challenges. While the plumbing fixtures might look perfect on the surface, decades-old plumbing can hide a multitude of issues. Addressing these problems is necessary to ensure that the bathroom functions seamlessly and avoids any costly disruptions down the road.

Identifying Potential Plumbing Issues

When you open your walls up to alter the plumbing during a remodel, you may encounter unexpected issues like outdated materials, incompatible fixtures, or even corroded pipes.

Frequent issues such as inconsistent water pressure, gurgling drains, or pipe leaks can indicate deeper plumbing concerns.

Especially in older homes, it’s common to find plumbing materials such as lead, galvanized steel, or CPVC. Each of these has been discontinued in plumbing use due to health or safety hazards. Being vigilant about these signs can help preemptively identify and resolve challenges before they escalate.

How can Bad Plumbing Affect Your House?

Plumbing already makes up over 25% of the total cost of a bathroom remodel. Ignoring potential plumbing problems during a bathroom remodel isn’t just a minor oversight—it can lead to major cost increases later on.

Leaks, even minor ones, can cause structural damage or lead to mold growth. Faulty plumbing can also result in inadequate water flow, causing frustration and inconvenience.

In the worst-case scenarios, improperly addressed plumbing challenges can lead to significant water damage, requiring extensive repairs and further escalating renovation costs.

Plumbing irregularities may cause challenges during your bathroom remodel.

How to Address Plumbing Challenges

When faced with plumbing issues, it’s crucial to involve experts. A professional plumber can provide an accurate assessment, offer solutions tailored to the specific situation, and ensure that the plumbing system aligns with modern standards and codes.

While revisiting plumbing might seem like an added expense during a remodel, it’s a strategic investment. Not only does it safeguard the home’s structural integrity, but it also guarantees the long-term functionality and efficiency of your bathroom.

3. Bathroom Layout Changes

Undertaking a bathroom remodel often comes with the opportunity to craft your dream layout. Perhaps it’s the idea of having a soaking tub under the window or relocating the sink to a more central position. But while these layout changes might be visually appealing, they often come with an underlying price tag that can catch homeowners off guard.

Why Does Moving Plumbing Incur Extra Costs?

The reason is simple: moving plumbing is not just about rerouting pipes wherever they fit. It involves understanding the intricate plumbing system beneath the walls and floor. Plumbing code requires pipes to have specific runs, vents, and drainage slopes. Altering their position requires considerable planning and modifications to ensure everything functions correctly.

How Much Can Layout Changes Cost?

If you decide to change your bathroom’s layout, it’s essential to factor in the costs of skilled labor and materials required to reroute the plumbing. Depending on the extent of the changes and the specifics of the home, this could lead to a significant increase in the project’s overall cost.

The cost to change the layout of your bathroom can vary depending on what you want to do. It can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to move a fixture to $20,000 to re-route plumbing, drains, or necessary structural features.

How to Approach Layout Changes

If a layout change is on your mind, consulting with a professional bathroom designer before finalizing any plans can be invaluable. They can offer insights into the feasibility of the changes, potential challenges, and, of course, the costs involved. It’s also worth considering how essential the layout change is versus the potential increased cost and project timeline.

In the end, while creating a functional and visually stunning bathroom is the goal, it’s crucial to balance these factors against the cost. Being able to identify the hidden costs associated with remodeling your layout can help you make informed decisions and ensure that your bathroom remodel doesn’t become a financial drain.

4. High-End Materials and Finishes

The quest for perfection in a bathroom remodel often leads homeowners down the path of high-end materials and finishes. The allure of premium tiles, opulent vanities, and designer fixtures can be tempting. However, while these materials can undoubtedly elevate the aesthetics of a bathroom, they can also significantly inflate the cost of a project, sometimes without a proportional increase in value or functionality.

Why Material Selections Matter

Imagine a homeowner charmed by the displays at upscale tile stores. The shimmering mosaics and unique textures are beautiful, no doubt. However, there are often comparable products available at a fraction of the price.

Our team at Lamont Bros. has worked with clients who chose tiles from a high-end store without realizing the price disparity between their choice and similar tiles from more affordable sources. Choices like this can lead to increased costs that quickly outpace a set budget.

Similarly, choosing designer fixtures can also add a significant markup. For instance, a faucet with a price tag of $2,500 might not always offer significantly better quality or functionality than one priced at $200. It’s the brand, design, or exclusivity that often drives the price up.

How Do High-End Finishes Affect The Final Cost?

The ramifications of opting for high-end materials aren’t just about the upfront cost. Using expensive materials might also mean higher installation fees, especially if those materials require specialized handling or skills. Moreover, if the materials are imported or rare, there could be additional waiting periods, potentially delaying the completion of the remodel.

When it comes to the final price, high-end fixtures and finishes can easily add tens of thousands to the cost of your remodel. There’s no upper limit to how much you can add to the price tag by selecting more expensive materials.

high-end tile finishes can increase the cost of your bathroom remodel
HIgh-end tile can increase the cost of your bathroom remodel.

Advice for Working with High-End Finishes

One of the key strategies in managing costs is flexibility. While it’s natural to have preferences, it’s crucial to differentiate between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. There are often more affordable alternatives that provide a similar look or function to high-end options.

For example, while a certain high-priced tile might be captivating, there might be a comparable tile in a more affordable line that delivers a similar aesthetic without breaking the bank. A professional designer can help you weigh the options and identify which ones will work best for your needs.

5. Permit and Inspection Fees

When considering a bathroom remodel, it’s not just the tangible materials and labor costs that need to be factored in. Some of the often overlooked, yet critical components of the remodeling process are the permit and inspection fees. These are mandated by local building departments and agencies to ensure the renovated space meets all safety and building codes.

Why are Permits Important?

Permits are essential tools in safeguarding construction and renovation processes. They act as a protective measure for homeowners, ensuring that installations like plumbing pipes and electrical systems adhere to safety standards.

For builders, permits minimize legal risks, even if issues arise post-completion. On a broader scale, permits uphold safety in homes, offices, schools, and other community structures, ensuring consistent quality and safety for everyone.

Whenever you want to make significant changes to your home that can potentially affect its safety, you’ll likely need a permit. Changes to the foundation, framing, plumbing, HVAC, or electrical systems may trigger the need for a permit through your local building department.

Permit Cost Implications

Permit and inspection fees can vary widely based on the municipality, the scope of the work, and other factors. Simple renovations might require minimal permits, while more extensive projects—especially those that involve structural changes or major plumbing alterations—will typically demand a broader range of permits and inspections.

The permits themselves aren’t necessarily expensive or difficult to obtain. However, permitting offices and inspectors may require additional design revisions or expect the work to be done a certain way in order to meet legal standards. Depending on the requirements of your specific permitting office and inspector, the cost of the project may increase in order to meet the requirements set forth by the terms of your permit approval.

Moreover, skipping the permit process to save money can be a costly mistake. If work is done without the necessary permits, homeowners can face significant fines.  Additionally, unpermitted work can cause complications when trying to sell the house in the future.

Permitting Advice for Homeowners

Before starting any remodeling project, check with your local building department to determine what permits are needed. This will help avoid surprises and potential penalties. Once you have clarity on the necessary permits, factor these costs into your overall budget. Remember, these fees ensure your bathroom remodel is up to code and safe.

When selecting a contractor, ensure they are licensed and familiar with local building codes and regulations. A reputable contractor will be upfront about the need for permits and should handle the process on behalf of the homeowner. Know that throughout the remodeling process, an inspector will likely visit to ensure everything is up to code. This is a standard procedure, and a passed inspection is a stamp of approval on the quality and safety of the work done.

Want to Talk to a Professional About Your Bathroom Remodel?

At this point, you should be more confident in your understanding of what hidden bathroom remodeling costs to look out for. Now that you know what potential costs to plan for, continue your research! To help you find a contractor who is qualified to guide you through your remodeling journey, download our free guide, “3 Steps to Choosing Your Remodeling Contractor.”

Think you’re ready to start remodeling your bathroom? If so, click the button below to schedule a free design consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll help guide you through the process of remodeling your bathroom so you don’t have to worry about facing any surprises or hidden costs alone.