5 Things/ That you should not cheap out on for your bathroom renovation

You can’t even see the things you shouldn’t be cheaping out on in this lovely photo.

Bathrooms are scary. What I mean is, bathrooms are scary to renovate.  Much scarier than kitchens even though kitchens are larger, more expensive and involve appliances.

Why? Because there is water involved.  And water, not properly dealt with in a confined space, leads to nasty & expensive problems like mold.  And also because I know nothing about all the seemingly magical items and fillers and gooey things and screens that go into bathrooms to prevent nasty & expensive problems, outside of standard reno TV viewing.  But I SEE them (by them: qualified experts) put various doo-dads in there and I also see Holmes on Homes talk about how this is all usually done very badly, and then I start to quake in my slippers and see dollar signs flowing down our designer drain.  There is obviously so much more to consider outside of the tub, toilet, faucets and tile and the whole fun design-y aspect of this enterprise.

For instance, did you realize that there are a bazillion configurations of shower faucets/heads?  According to faucetdirect.com, you can have a ‘multifunctional showerhead’, a ‘handshower’, a ‘deck mounted handshower’, a ‘diverter’, a ‘deck mounted diverter’, a ‘shower system’ (etc.) and your shower can be ‘ADA compliant’, have a scald guard, and may include handles or a hose (you mean those things are usually not included?!!).    And then when you click on the actual item for purchase a little note pops up saying things like “This part needs this other part you’ve never considered before, watch out!” and when you read the reviews they say things like “This is the most complicated shower to install on the face of the planet and our plumber could not do it” (!!) or, “Oh, when my plumber was doing this he installed for a wall mounted shower but oops, this shower is not wall mounted” and it all just makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and say “Let’s pay someone to know this stuff for us!” (Which contradicts my frugal urges which say, “You need to learn this stuff yourself!”)

So I am approaching our bathroom remodel with trepidation and a lot of research.  Little Hogtown House has a major project in the works.  Before pictures to come. Firstly, there is the cosmetic updating of a dank and moldy 2nd floor bathroom.  Secondly, there is building a brand new bathroom from scratch on the 3rd floor.

DIGRESSION:  Single or double sink? The new ensuite went from a double sink-separate-bath-and-shower-ensuite into a single sink, tub/shower combo bathroom, as in, it got basic.  Because even though we have some savings to do these renos, we are miserly and don’t want to spend all of our hard earned cash on fanciness like dual sinks that nobody is going to use.  Do people actually use their double sinks, I pondered?  I did a formal poll to find this out.  “Mom,” I said, “Do you use your dual sinks?” “No, not really,” she said.  “I mostly need counter space so I can dry my hair while your father is getting ready.”  My mom just saved me at least $500 worth of sink, faucet and associated labour.  AT LEAST. But seriously – if you put in a second sink, you must plumb that sink, not to mention buy the sink itself and the hardware. My second poll involved asking my peer, “Should an ensuite bathroom have two sinks?”  The response to that was, “No, that’s some luxury ish.”  Thus the decision to eliminate the second sink was confirmed. I similarly eliminated several other items.  I should make a separate post on that.)

My bro poo-poos the cause because the reno is not scheduled until mid-fall.  “That’s really far away.”  Bro, we actually have the luxury this time of planning.  When we first renovated the kitchen back in 2008, we bought the house and gutted the first floor right away. Oh man, was that reno ever a nightmare.  And I have many regrets. Sad face. A story for another time.

Somehow we recovered from it though and managed to live together again.  The point is, those were bad times. Let’s not go back there, so that my disorganized ultrabudget contractor can do things like lay tiles in a squiggling crooked row, or forget about the molding around the window when installing the light switch, and cut a piece out of the molding to accommodate it.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My approach is to do as much research as possible to satisfy my inner control freakiness.    Researching leads me to great articles like this one.  Ostensibly it is 13 common mistakes, but in practice it is actually a list of about 10 things people cheap out on and how that will come and bite them in the ass.  Therefore I compiled my own list, based on that article.  It is called:


  1. Underlayment (floor surround)
  2. Diverter valve (keeps you from being scalded when someone flushes the toilet)
  3. Toilets.  (But we already bought low-flow toilets and we are definitely not buying new ones, so we fail that test.)
  4. Shower surround (they recommend Schulter-DITRA which sounds like a quality German product)
  5. Sealant (use silicon and expensive caulk)
  6. Faucets and shower components – “Be sure that your new faucets (and shower components) have ceramic disk valves (not rubber or plastic washers) and that the finish is of the highest quality.”
  7. Pay to replace shut off valves
  8. Pay for proper design (oops, we’re not doing that either).

Then at the end of this list, they hilarious say you should not overpay for your bathroom.   Is the fear in you, too, now?

There are some other great tips, so feel free to go to the article proper.


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