How to build a $50k bath addition for $8k

Matthew Grocoff

May 19, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Green LivingBathroom Remodeling

Bath additions are one of the most expensive and most popular remodels. But as much as everyone loves a soak in a tub surrounded by marble, bath additions can be really lousy investments. A $50,000 bath addition will add only $26,000 of value to your home. If you need to add to the footprint of your house, the cost of a bath can easily exceed $50,000. Want marble? Add another $2500 for a 120sf room. How about a nice claw foot tub? $1900 . . . not included the faucets. Built-in cabinets can jack your reno bill between $1,000 - $5,000. When you're crafting your budget, you may want to have enough money at the end of the project to still be able to afford soap.

So, how did my wife and I build a bathroom for only $8,000? The short answer is 1. patience, 2. creativity, and 3. sweat, tears, and DIY videos on YouTube. Now you can check out my video that will hopefully help you start your project.

Bathroom under construction

Addition by subtraction

Knocking out walls and expanding the size your house is costly. By getting creative with existing space you can rob Peter to pay Paul. My friend Michael Klement from Architectural Resource calls this "addition by subtraction." Addition by subtraction is about designing more use into the same space. We were fortunate to have a large bedroom that we could split in two. We added a bath by subtracting from a big bedroom. We added one wall using salvaged 2x4s for the studs and a few sheets of new drywall. By using salvaged doors on barn door slides we saved space and avoided swinging doors. By having Jack & Jill doors we created access to two bedrooms without having to change the second floor layout.

Shop salvage and antiques

Rather than building space-hogging and costly custom cabinetry, we took our time and hunted antique markets for pieces of furniture that fit perfectly in the spaces we needed. Between the tub and pedestal sink we placed a perfectly sized old pie chest. The tub we found on Craigslist. We had the rusty tub sand blasted by a local tombstone maker for $50. We hired a tub refinisher to reglaze the tub. We found Carrera marble floor tiles in mint condition for only $180. This assured no one would know that this bath was done on a budget. For the mirror, we used an antique picture frame and had the hardware store cut a custom sized mirror and added hinges to serve as a door for a custom medicine chest. With extra subway tiles from the shower, we made an inset medicine chest behind the unique mirror.

Custom angled shower with DIY tiling

Do as much DIY as possible

For the big stuff, like plumbing and electrical, we hired professionals. We also used a 1/4 of our budget to get a gorgeous custom designed shower stall installed by professionals. This combo of DIY and pros ensured that we saved money without sacrificing quality and expertise where it counts. We did spend two months tiling our shower. Good tile work is hard to find, and it's tough to get it looking like a pro. But with patience and a desire to learn you can have a $15,000 shower for less than $1,000.

DIY remodeled bathroom with clawfoot tub

Be patient

They say everything comes down to time and money. But you rarely can have both. If you're willing to be patient, sweat equity can go a long way to reducing cost of any remodel.

Here's the price list for some of our bath project:

Salvage barn doors: $200 (for 2 doors!)

Clawfoot tub on Craigslist: $120

Contractor to reglaze clawfoot tub: $300

Faucet and shower handle for tub: $350

Pedestal sink at builders' auction: $40

Carrera marble floor from salvage auction: $180

Pie chest from antique market: $90

Medicine cabinet from antique market: $150

Custom glass for neo-angle shower: $2,200

Plumber to bring plumbing to second floor: $1,800 (we installed the toilet, bath faucets, and sink ourselves and saved several hundred dollars).

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