Giving construction estimates on a whim is a tough job. A contractor may run into a potential client on the street and they ask a very broad, “how much to to put up a garage” question even though there are dozens of variables that would affect that answer.
Bathroom contracting specialists deal with the same thing, specifically in questions about the timeline of a renovation. Homeowners have every right to know these details (along with cost, starting date, scope of work, etc.) but there are also a number of factors that go into this answer. Here are the steps of a bathroom renovation and how long you can expect each to take:
Home renovations that require structural, electrical, or plumbing alterations will more often than not require a permit depending on your jurisdiction. If you just plan on changing the visual appearance of the bathroom (paint, new lighting or trim) then work can commence immediately. Also the good news about a bathroom renovation is that it is interior which means a permit can usually be granted within a week. Exterior remodeling in historical districts requires a board meeting and can take up to 6 weeks.
Once the scope of work is approved by the proper authorities, it’s time to start the ‘out with the old in with the new’ process. Many homeowners consider the demolition process a very doable DIY project, but just know that do-it-yourself jobs almost always stretch out the timeline.
Instead of a multi-person crew working 8 hour days, you’re likely having untrained friends and family volunteering their time on nights and weekends. Professional contractors can usually have bathroom demo done in a day, but DIY depends on how aggressive a person is with their time.
Framing and Rebuilding
You’re not dealing with the biggest square footage even in spacious, luxury, master bathrooms so the work involved with re-framing the room isn’t that time consuming. Replacing rotted subflooring is a one-day project, as is framing new walls for layout changes.
With interior work, the good news is that contractors can stick to deadlines regardless of weather. The only thing that would push the re-framing aspect into a second week would be a material shortage. It’s incredibly important that all of this work is done on time because services trades cannot start their work until the ‘bare bones’ are back in place.
Plumbing and Electrical
What many homeowners find is that the plumbing and electrical required for a bathroom renovation usually isn’t all that time consuming – but getting the tradespeople on site is. Construction contractors often get blamed for project delays when the truth is they are playing the waiting game on the often swamped service techs.
Don’t be surprised if your bathroom sits torn apart and idle for a week or two while waiting for a plumber and/or electrician to get to the job site. That’s why it’s important to have prompt demo done, and also have a general contractor with specific timelines and who stays on top of the service trades promises.
Whether it’s flooring or a shower wall, it’s not a stretch to assume that tile installation will be the most time consuming aspect of your bathroom renovation. This is definitely a job that you don’t want rushed though, so give the installer plenty of time before scheduling the next service.
There’s just a lot that goes into the tile application process. For one, an installer can only work in sections since the adhesive mastic will dry up if they get too far ahead of themselves. Each individual tile needs to be placed meticulously so that it is straight and spaced out properly. Then, once the mastic and tiles are down, at least 24 hours should pass before applying grout.
The good news is that other types of flooring besides tile can be applied in a much quicker manner. Laying a laminate floor for example is usually a one-day job, but at the same time it doesn’t provide the same durability (or often the same aesthetics) as tile.
Fixtures, Paint, Trim
Installing new fixtures as well as painting and applying base, window, and door trim aren’t especially time consuming either. The thing is, you want to dedicate a day (two on the safe side) to each. Painters can do their job a lot faster before the vanity and trim is installed. The vanity should be installed before the base trim so it can be flush against the wall as well.
It’s not fair to ask multiple contractors to try and work at the same time in a space as small as a bathroom. Not to mention, each of them waiting to get in and out of a room is going to drive labor costs through the roof.
How Long Does a Bathroom Renovation Take Summary
There are little nuances during each step of a bathroom renovation that could really stretch out this project. You’ve got the design and permit phase before any work can even be done, then the demo, then giving plumbers and electricians enough time to install the ‘guts’ before the actual rebuild can begin.
Tile mastic and grout needs time to dry, as does paint. Fixtures, vanity, and trim all needs to be applied in a certain order as well. If you’ve got a contractor that is well-versed in all of these services, that’s going to significantly cut down on your timeline, but this is still a 2-week job at minimum.