Bathroom Renovations Part 1 – Budgets & Scheduling


This is how Alaskans do it!!

On the first day of my winter break, I got a wild hair in my ass to renovate my main bathroom. I have been wanting to do something to the house since we became a bit more stable in the financial department. . However, every time I chose a construction project (kitchen countertops, new windows, patio…) the “construction dominos” would start falling and I quickly lost interest as my budget was blown.

What is a construction domino? It’s when you stack all the things you need to do for a project in a line then try to fill in other dominos (problems) that crop-up during the project without them all falling. When you plan to do any construction, there is ALWAYS an unknown factor that can’t be factored in at the beginning. Or even when you do factor it in, it can be the maker or breaker of a project.

EXAMPLE – You may think you are doing a quick change out of a new toilet for about $250, however after you’ve bought your new toilet (thinking you’ll save money by buying it yourself at the Big Depot instead of from the plumber), it’s the wrong size and you now need to pay the plumber to pick-up the right model… Or, the toilet collar turns out to be rusted away and needs to be replaced… Clack, clack, clack. The dominos start falling, just like the dough you’re dropping into the project.

I am a landscape construction estimator. Believe me, I know about construction costs! Basically, add a healthy 20% – 30% to any budget and that is where it will really fall after all is said and done. One more time, be sure the initial estimate is 30% LOWER than what you want to spend.  Believe me! Small things not anticipated can add up quickly! Even for a seasoned professional like myself.

My budget for my bathroom project was $1,700*, with a completion schedule of 2 weeks. The project will encompass a new vanity/sink/faucet, new mirror, tile backsplash, shelves and a faux paint finish. All of the work will be done by my husband and me, no other contractors needed. Big bucks can be saved every time you can do something yourself. This project would easily be $5,000 had I hired a contractor and not done as fast, because they would need multiple visits to complete.

Here’s just a few of the construction dominos that fell (so far) during my bathroom renovation:

  • There was no tile under existing vanity – as I had bought a vanity with legs this time, I needed to match the tile & lay 4.5 tiles.
  • I had planned on reusing the mirror, however I damaged it on removal – need new.
  • The light above the vanity was wired incorrectly and not centered.
  • Toilet seat broke when someone stood on it to reach the light. .. (not me!)
  • I originally wanted to go with a Venetian plaster finish to cover the poor drywall job. Turns out the color choices are very limited in Venetian plaster and I didn’t like any of them, so I needed to do A LOT of drywall repair to be able to use regular paint.
  • Even after 2 coats of expensive, primer included paint, it did not cover the dark green paint & I need to buy another $57 gallon for a 3rd coat.

Right now, 3 weeks after my winter break, I’m only to the point of painting my 3rd coat today. Remember ‘construction schedule’ are two words that go together like military intelligence or politically correct. IE, they don’t!! So, just like the budget estimate, add 30% more time to your project. I thought I’d be done last weekend… Well, as of today, it looks like the bathroom will be functional next weekend, however not fully complete with shelves and a mirror.

Thank goodness, I have a basement washroom to shit, shave and shower in. I don’t know anyone’s basement that’s cozy warm, and mine is no different. Allow me to reference the Styrofoam photo above. .. I love watching the “Buying Alaska” series. In Alaska, there are many homes with no indoor plumbing. How they combat the shock of sitting on a frozen, outhouse toilet seat is to create a seat of Styrofoam that is kept warm in the house. When needed, the warm seat is brought to the outhouse and your butt won’t freeze to the seat! This seat now resides at the top of the stairs, warm and at the ready when I have to use the freezing cold, basement loo! 😉

Watch for Bathroom Renovations Part II – The Construction Project coming up soon (When I finish it!!)

*$1,700 –  This number was to also include towels, rug, shower curtain/rod and wall plates. Stop laughing at me… 😉

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

29 thoughts on “Bathroom Renovations Part 1 – Budgets & Scheduling

  1. I currently plan the same… and I fear bathroom renovations the most. There are so much things what end different than eggs-pected :o( we still ponder if we will have a shower room or a bathtub… seems even this problem needs 87 years :o) Better to do it the alaska-way :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish you the best with yours! If you need any tips. ..
      I seriously hope I’m over the ‘surprise! New problem phase’. I have to let the 3 coats of paint dry before I do my faux painting. That will be Friday. I feel like I’m traveling, as the basement bath is not ‘home’ and all my stuff is scattered everywhere!


  2. Hubby is in the middle of renovating a whole house, and is busy with the main bathroom. Luckily we don’t have to live there until it’s all finished. 🙂 You’re so right that nothing ever goes completely according to plan, and always takes longer than anticipated.


    • Whew, glad you have another place to crash while doing the construction on your home. Even I’m lucky to have another bathroom! Many don’t have that option.
      I do secretly laugh at 1st time construction clients when they complain to me about time and additional $$ needed. Sadly. .. it’s the nature of the beast!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Having just written a post on (literally) the subject, why spend $250 for a new toilet when you can buy a new toilet seat for $10? Come to think of it, why spend $10 on a new toilet seat when you can just clean the old one? Even better, why not just “go” out in the woods so the old toilet seat won’t get dirty? Talk about freezing your ass off — what faster way to lose weight!


  4. It is always wonderful to reach the conclusion of projects like this, but it is always a rough journey, even when everything goes well. It does cut your cost in half if you can do the work, even if you can only do some of the work the savings are substantial.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can relate to this post so well!!
    We have done extensive renovations to 2 houses during our 30+ year marriage. We call it scope-creep. What can start out as a simple paint job will morph into several thousand dollars of add-ons for the unexpected.

    When you mentioned trying to cover dark green paint, I had a déjà vu of my last renovation project. I hate to tell you this, but it took me 4 coats of paint to successfully cover the dark hunter green … 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of target colour. In the end, it was totally worth both the cost and effort, but it was a lot harder than I expected.

    Good luck!! I hope we will see before and after photos 🙂


  6. Pingback: Bathroom Renovations Part 2 – Construction | Midwestern Plants

  7. Pingback: May Have a Fruit-like Breath Odor | Midwestern Plants

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