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DIY Bathroom Remodeling vs. Hiring a Contractor: A Cost and Time Comparison

A freestanding tub in a bathroom designed and built by Ranney Blair

Are you thinking about undertaking your own bathroom remodeling project? Are you trying to decide between doing it yourself (DIY) or hiring a contractor to do the work? Bathroom remodeling can be a daunting task, and it can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons of both options. 

To help make your decision easier, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on DIY vs. hiring a contractor for bathroom remodeling tasks. By the end of this post, you’ll feel confident in making an informed decision about which route is best for you. 

DIY Bathroom Remodeling vs. Hiring a Contractor

Modern Bathroom

Cost: DIY vs. Hiring A Contractor

If you have some experience with various remodeling tasks, then you can definitely save some money upfront by DIYing some bathroom remodeling tasks. Per Bob Vila, labor costs can be up to 40-65% of a total bathroom remodeling budget, depending on materials, the scope of work, and the level of bathroom remodeler you hire (low-end vs. high-end).

According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report for 2023, Atlanta-area homeowners spend an average of $25K to remodel a 5′ x 7′ bathroom with midrange fixtures and finishes. An upscale bathroom remodel for a 10′ x 10′ space averages about $77K. 

That being said, the cost savings only apply if you can do the work correctly and are able to replicate the quality of work that a contractor would produce.

There are quite a few bathroom remodeling tasks that most people can’t complete because they lack the necessary skills (more on that in a little bit).

Needless to say, if the work you do on your bathroom remodel has to be replaced or repaired because it was not done correctly, you are not saving money but actually spending more money in the long run.

Time: DIY vs. Hiring A Contractor

When it comes to saving time, a quality contractor will beat a DIYer, hands down, every time. Contractors, especially those with years of experience in both remodeling and project management, can design, build, and complete a high-quality bathroom remodel much faster than a DIYer.

Here at Ranney Blair, we take particular pride in our guaranteed build schedules that remove the uncertainty of when a project will be completed for a homeowner. Thanks to our years of experience with completing bathroom remodels, we are also able to provide you with a fairly accurate initial build price estimate so you aren’t hit with a surprise budget overrun in the middle of your project.

You can learn more about our bathroom remodeling process and pricing tiers here.

Reasons To DIY

Bathroom Remodeling

Every bathroom remodeling project is unique, and there are some situations in which it might make more sense for a DIYer to attempt a bathroom remodel themselves. Here are some of the most common reasons someone might attempt to DIY a bathroom remodel.

Save On Cost Of Labor

Labor can be one of the biggest expenses when it comes to remodeling projects, so if you do it yourself, you’ll save money without having to pay someone else.

If you’re a seasoned handyman and have the skillset for the job, then this may be an even better option for you since you won’t need to hire someone else who knows how to do it.

You Are An Expert

Are you a contractor yourself? If you have a background in construction or renovation, then there’s the potential to take on more intricate tasks such as plumbing or electrical work. Not only will this save you money on labor costs, but it will also allow you to take full control of your project.

You Want To Make Minor Changes

If your plans are relatively minor in scope–say, replacing a toilet or painting your existing cabinets–then DIY isn’t too difficult and could also help you save time as well as money. Tackling a few minor bathroom upgrades is relatively easy compared to a full bathroom remodel.

Reasons To Hire A Contractor

Bathroom Remodeling

On the other side of the coin are situations where it definitely makes more sense for you to seek professional help for your bathroom remodel. Here are some common reasons to hire a contractor for the bathroom remodeling.

You Don’t Have Time

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a professional contractor is that they will have the experience and knowledge to get the job done quickly and efficiently. If you don’t have time to complete all of the work yourself, hiring a contractor will save you time and energy.

You Need It Done Quickly

Is your wife tired of your unfinished bathroom remodeling project that was supposed to take a “couple of weekends” but has stretched into a year-long project? Another reason to hire a contractor is that they can complete the job faster than if you did it on your own. 

Electrical And Plumbing Work Is Required

If your bathroom remodel includes any electrical or plumbing work, such as replacing fixtures or running new lines, it’s always best to hire a licensed professional contractor with experience in this area. Not only do they know what needs to be done in order to meet safety regulations and codes, but they also understand how these changes may affect other systems in your home. 

Major Layout Changes Are Required

If your bathroom remodel includes major layout changes, such as moving walls or changing plumbing lines, then it would be wise to hire an experienced contractor who is familiar with these types of projects. They will be able to make sure that all of the necessary steps are taken properly so that everything is done correctly and safely.

Replacement Of Shower Or Bathtub Required

Replacing existing shower glass or bathtub fixtures requires specialized tools and knowledge that most DIYers don’t have access to. A professional contractor has experience with these types of jobs, which means they can complete them quickly without any issues arising during the installation process. Plus, if anything does go wrong during installation, then they will know exactly how to handle it quickly and professionally so that you don’t need to worry about any repairs down the line.  

Professional Waterproofing

A professional contractor also knows how important waterproofing is when renovating bathrooms. Without proper waterproofing techniques being used in your renovation project, you could end up with serious water damage down the line, which could cost thousands more than simply having it done right in the first place! Hiring a professional can ensure that the waterproofing is done correctly and up to code, giving you peace of mind and protecting your investment.

You Want It To Look Professional

Bathroom Remodeling

While there are some bathroom remodeling tasks that require special technical skills, that isn’t the only reason to hire a professional contractor. Contractors also have the experiential skills that come from years of working in the trades.

So not only can contractors work more efficiently, but their work is also of higher quality than your average DIYer. In other words, the professional who tiles hundreds of bathrooms every year is, not surprisingly, able to produce a more professional-looking final product than a DIYer who is tiling for the first time. Add in the fact that some contractors include the services of an interior designer in their bathroom remodeling plans, and it’s not hard to see why a professionally remodeled bathroom can look so much better than a DIY project.

Bathroom Remodeling Tasks: DIY vs. Contractor

Bathroom Remodeling

Another way to look at the DIY vs. contractor question is to break down individual bathroom remodeling tasks to see which ones might be able to be completed by a DIYer and which ones should definitely only be done by a professional.

Here are some common bathroom remodeling tasks and our take on whether you should attempt these tasks yourself or hire a professional. Keep in mind that many contractors will not divvy up bathroom remodeling tasks with a homeowner in order to maintain quality control over the entire project. So be sure to talk to your contractor before you decide to attempt any aspects of bathroom remodeling on your own.

Framing – Possibly DIY

Bathroom Remodeling

Framing is an important task in any remodel, as it sets up the entire space for success. However, framing is also complex, requiring extensive measurements and precise cuts. This task should be left to experts if you are planning any drastic modifications in the bathroom layout, such as moving walls or doors.

However, if your project is more cosmetic in nature, then you might be able to get away with doing the framing yourself. For example, framings for built-in features, like shelving or a medicine cabinet. Just be sure to check your local building codes first.

Flooring – Possibly DIY

Bathroom Remodeling

Installing new flooring is a big job, but if you’re comfortable using power tools and have some experience with tile work, then it’s something you can likely do yourself. If you take your time measuring and carefully cutting each piece, you can install flooring on your own–just make sure to waterproof and install it correctly so that your floor lasts for years to come. 

Plumbing And Electrical – Hire A Contractor

Bathroom Remodeling

Plumbing and electrical work require specific knowledge and expertise that are not typically possessed by DIYers.

These are two areas where even a small mistake can have major consequences–like starting a fire or flooding your bathroom. Unless you’re confident in your skillset, it’s best to leave plumbing and electrical work to the professionals who can do it right the first time around. 

Walls – Hire A Contractor

Wall construction requires precise measurements and cuts; if done incorrectly, walls may not fit properly or could even collapse under load-bearing weight over time. The walls in your bathroom also need special waterproofing materials and installation techniques in order to prevent long-term water damage. So unless you have experience with installing tile underlayment or moving load-bearing walls, this is a task best left to the experts.

Shower Or Bathtub Installation – Hire A Contractor

Installing showers or bathtubs requires specialized tools as well as knowledge of plumbing systems in order to ensure proper hookups and drainage lines that won’t leak over time. It’s best to leave these installations in the hands of experienced contractors who have already proven their expertise in this area before attempting this job yourself.

Vanity And Countertops – Possibly DIY

Installing vanity units and countertops isn’t overly difficult–especially if it is a stock vanity with readymade countertops–but it does require precision cutting in order for them to fit perfectly into place. If you don’t feel comfortable taking on this task yourself, then hire a professional who can ensure everything fits correctly and looks perfect.

Toilet – Possibly DIY

Toilet installation doesn’t require too much skill–so long as you’re not moving it to a new location! As long as you follow instructions closely (and wear gloves!), installing a toilet should be relatively straightforward for any DIYer willing to give it a try. 

Sink And Faucet – Possibly DIY

Bathroom Remodeling

Installing sinks and faucets isn’t too difficult for DIYers with some basic plumbing knowledge. However, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or if new plumbing needs to be installed, then hiring a professional might be your best bet instead. 

Painting And Hardware – Possibly DIY

Painting and hardware installation are both tasks that most DIYers can tackle without too much difficulty. That being said, unless you have previous painting experience, hiring a professional to paint your bathroom will generally result in a higher-quality paint job.

DIY Bathroom Remodel vs. Hiring a Contractor FAQs

Bathroom Remodeling

How difficult is it to remodel a bathroom? 

As we noted above, there are some bathroom remodeling tasks that a DIYer can probably handle on their own. That being said, there’s a difference between managing to do the work yourself and managing to do it professionally.

We’ve all been in bathrooms that have uneven tiles, a wobbly toilet, or some other issue that catches your eye. Ask yourself if you can tolerate a bathroom remodel that looks less than professional. If not, you’re probably better off hiring a contractor.

How long does it take to complete a bathroom remodel?

The amount of time it takes to complete a bathroom remodel depends on many factors, including the size of the bathroom, the scope of work, and the skill of the bathroom remodeler. That being said, even professional remodelers with a team of specialists can take 6-8 weeks to renovate a bathroom. So if you are A DIYer trying to complete a bathroom remodel on your own time, it can easily stretch into a year-long project.

What’s the difference between a bathroom renovation and a bathroom remodel? 

While these terms are often used interchangeably, bathroom renovations and bathroom remodels actually refer to two distinct types of bathroom-related work. Bathroom renovations focus on refreshing existing components–like repainting walls, replacing fixtures, and updating cabinetry hardware–to give a bathroom a facelift.

In contrast, bathroom remodels involve bigger changes that require more labor, planning, and investment. This could include expanding the space, moving elements such as plumbing, or tearing down walls to make way for new design possibilities. The scale of the job will determine what terminology best describes it. Generally speaking, bathroom renovations may be handled by a DIYer, while bathroom remodels should usually be left to the pros.

Ranney Blair Can Design And Build Your Perfect Bathroom

Bathroom Remodeling

When considering DIY vs. contractor for a bathroom remodel, there is no right or wrong answer; it simply depends upon individual needs, skills, and factors such as time, cost, and quality expectations. Overall though, with any remodeling project–bathroom or otherwise–if you want something done properly, it’s always best to enlist the help of professionals.

If you’d like more help determining what options may work best for your bathroom remodeling project, our team at Ranney Blair is here to help! Just fill out our contact form today, and one of our expert consultants will be in touch soon.