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How to plan a bathroom renovation

Author: Marv Shidler
Last updated: Oct. 31, 2009

Americans are in love with their bathrooms. Have you noticed how much bigger and more luxurious bathrooms are becoming? We want our bathrooms to pamper us and indulge our every whim.

If you find your bath harder and harder to face each morning, it may be time for a change. Though the cost per square foot of remodeling or adding a bath is relatively high, it is still among the most popular home projects today because of the high return when the house is sold. An attractive, remodeled bathroom will return from 85% to 95% of the money invested and will also help the house to sell more quickly. Here are tips to help you plan a successfully remodeled bathroom.

If this bathroom exists only in your dreams, find a space for it. Sometimes a hall closet is dispensable and can be transformed into a powder room. If you need a complete bath, you will need to find more room a minimum of 35 square feet. Once you know the dimensions of your room, lay them out with string in your backyard, using cardboard cutouts to place the fixtures. If the space you have to work with is very small, don't give up. There are solutions for small spaces (see How to Make the Most of Small Baths).

Before choosing the fixtures such as toilets, shower stalls, and whirlpools, go back to the room (real or imaginary) to consider what will be behind and under those fixtures. If you are adding a bathroom, keep it as close to existing plumbing as possible to avoid costly demolition and new plumbing lines.

The location and structure of this room is important for another reason. Will it be possible to bring in a one-piece shower stall or whirlpool that needs to go up stairs, around corners and through doors? Will the floor need structural reinforcement to hold a whirlpool that when filled could weigh thousands of pounds? If you are adding a fixture that consumes large amounts of water, such as a whirlpool or multiple-head shower, will your water heater capacity be adequate; will you need larger water lines to give the desired water pressure?

Remember, an escape requires proper planning. With a little foresight, you will be splashing around in your new bath in no time.