Fun transitional bathroom with colorful tileGot a new Master Bathroom on your mind?  Whether you are thinking of remodeling an existing bathroom or designing one for your new home, the most important things to consider are the same.

In this post, we will discuss 5 key design and construction considerations that we typically guide our clients on when working on master bathroom projects:

  • Defining your plans.
  • Cost – Facelift or All new?
  • Quality of materials and of construction.
  • Floor Structure. That important base it all rests on!
  • Future Upkeep – Making the right selections.

Defining Your Plans.
How long are you planning on staying in the house? This one question, crazy as it might seem, is often one of the most important to answer before starting the design of your new master bathroom.  In our experience, the answer is very likely to drive most other decisions to be made regarding the design of a master bathroom.

Why is it so important? Because construction cost, quality and ongoing upkeep can vary greatly depending what the bathroom is constructed of.

If looking to sell the house in 3 to 5 years, you will likely want to make material and color selections based on that. You would likely want your construction budget to be based on that end goal as well. Unless you don’t care what you will recoup when it’s time to sell of course.

Should you on the other hand be looking to stay longer, then you might want to approach the project differently. The design will likely be more about what you really want in your dream bathroom. You would probably also pay less attention to what the next buyer might want, etc.

Cost – Facelift or All New?
Your project cost can vary significantly depending on the type of work. When we design bathrooms for our clients, we typically talk about cost in terms of a “facelift” versus “gut” projects.

Modern custom vanity with bird's eye mapleA facelift project is one where finishes and fixtures are replaced, but the new plumbing fixtures will be installed in the same location as the old fixtures.

A gut project is typically where everything is removed down to the bare walls studs, and floor and ceiling joists are exposed. On gut projects, the layout of the bathroom is often revised and new plumbing fixtures are moved to different locations than the ones that we removed. Sometimes gut projects include opening load-bearing walls and reworking the load-bearing capacity, etc. of the floor structure to properly work with the new layout.

The additional demolition in a gut project, the reworking of piping, electrical rewiring, and structural changes add significant cost as compared to a facelift project.

Since bathroom projects have a number of variables, it’s nearly impossible to say exactly what your project will cost before the design has been completed and the finishes and fixtures have been selected.  However, we are typically able to guide our clients on general ballpark costs early on after having a conversation about design preferences and overall scope of facelifts versus gut projects.

Quality of Materials and of Construction.Shower with tile inlay
For bathroom projects, there are two types of quality to consider. Material quality and Construction quality. Both will impact the cost of the final project, how much upkeep will be needed over the years, and how many years the bathroom will last.

The quality and life expectancy of building materials and fixtures can vary significantly. This goes for nearly all materials used in a bathroom from what the subfloor is constructed of, to what type of paint is used.

Construction quality will be impacted by the contractors performing the installations, handling oversight of trades, the quality of materials they use to install substrates, finishes, fixtures, etc.  The old saying: “You get what you pay for” holds very much true in construction.

Knowledgeable and quality conscious contractors are in major shortage these days.  In most states, anyone can pick up a hammer at the local hardware store and immediately call themselves a carpenter.  Surely these types of contractors tend to cost less than those that are properly trained in what to use and how, but who you use will have great impact on the quality of your project.

When determining your desired level of end product quality, it’s important to consider the skills and knowledge of the contractors you hire to work on your home, which is likely the largest investment you own.

Having a technically savvy architect and contractors on your team to help guide you on all this, makes a huge difference on the final product.

Floor Structure. That important base it all rests on!Bathroom subfloor during construction
The floor structure is extremely important especially in a bathroom. A flexing floor can quickly lead to popping or cracking tile, or loosening of grout.  It’s costly to fix a floor structure after finishes have been installed, so it’s imperative to construct it right from the start.

We have seen a great number of sagging floors and ceilings due to poor work performed by previous contractors.  This is often due to an inadequate floor structure below heavy items such as bathtubs, tile floors, etc.  Plumbing lines incorrectly drilled or cut into the structure are notorious for causing problems as well.

A good design and construction team can help you determine if things such as pipes will physically fit and work with the new desired layout. Knowledgeable design professionals can also guide you on whether structural changes or upgrades will be required.

Future Upkeep – Making the right selections.
Selecting the right products is especially important for bathrooms that see a lot of traffic, tough usage and are Traditional bathroomexposed to harsh cleaning products.  Many building products and finishes require ongoing maintenance and upkeep and some more than others.  Certain products, when installed correctly, will outlast the homeowners with little upkeep, while others have a short life expectancy and might require a lot of continuous tending to.  A good design professional can help guide you with your selection process.

Harmoni Designs + Harmoni Build
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