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How Much Does a Master Bathroom Remodel Cost?

January 25th, 2024 | 7 min read

By Ray Stillions

Planning a master bathroom remodel can be a daunting experience for homeowners, especially given the size of the investment and the many potential pitfalls. At RWS, we have over 25 years of remodeling experience and over 500 bathrooms under our belt. We have become adept at helping homeowners avoid those pitfalls while delivering the master bathroom of their dreams.

To make the smartest investment, homeowners need as much quality information as possible. Our goal is to remove uncertainty and give you the knowledge needed to make the best decision possible.

There are a vast number of factors that will determine the cost of your bathroom remodel. This article will give you a good idea of how much you should expect to spend based on your specific needs.

The Two Types of Master Bathroom Remodels

In the world of remodeling, projects tend to fall into one of two categories:

● Return on Investment (ROI) Projects – A project where the primary goal is to add value to your home and recoup as much of your investment as possible. Sticking to a budget is very important in this type of renovation. ROI projects are often done by homeowners looking to sell their home in the next few years.

● Custom/luxury-focused projects – A project aimed at capturing the vision of your dream home. The sky is the limit on this type of remodel. Custom/luxury projects are usually done by homeowners who have a clear vision for the beauty and aesthetics they want to achieve.

The question is this: Is your focus to increase the market value of your home for future resale or to have the home of your dreams?

Return On Investment Focused Remodels

Beware of Using Cost per Square Foot When Estimating a Master Bathroom Remodel

“Cost per Square Foot” is a commonly used metric in new construction. Because of this, it may seem like a logical metric when trying to calculate the cost of a master bathroom remodel. While it may work well for new construction, it is not very accurate for remodeling projects. A quick review of real-life numbers can help homeowners see the trap in trying to estimate their project this way.

You may have seen an article on Forbes that estimates the cost of a bathroom remodel at $70 to $250 per square foot. By Forbes’ calculation, a 50-square-foot bathroom should cost between $3,500 and $12,500. A quick review of typical master bathroom allowance items makes the problem clear. Here is a quick, rough breakdown of some initial costs you could expect for a master bathroom remodel:

  • Cabinetry: $900-$1800
  • Countertops: $700-$1500
  • Sink(s): $100-$500
  • Sink fixture(s): $150-$600
  • Toilet: $250-$500
  • Shower fixtures: $300-$700
  • Tub: $400-$1500
  • Tub fixtures: $200-$600
  • Towel bars: $50-$250
  • Mirrors: $100-$300
  • Shower glass: $400-$2000
  • Light fixtures: $100-$500
  • Tile – $600 – $2000

After adding up the products listed above our total is between $4,250 and $12,750. While you may not have all these costs, you will have most of them. At this point the entire “Cost per Square Foot” budget has been spent. Many of the other required materials such as paint and drywall still need to be bought, and no one has swung a hammer yet. Clearly, there’s a problem here, but don’t despair, we’re going to show you a more accurate method.

Unless you’re building a new home, we recommend that you take the idea of cost per square foot and forget it completely.

A bathroom in Kansas City before renovation with RWS

Using Your Home’s Value to Gauge the Cost of a Master Bathroom Remodel

Utilizing the value of your home when creating a budget for your master bathroom remodel yields much more accurate numbers. Estimations based on your home’s value tend to reflect the finish levels and attributes expected as homes go up in value. The examples listed below are not set in stone, these ranges are a good tool for predicting the cost of your renovation.

One quick disclaimer, please keep in mind that RWS is in Kansas City and these numbers reflect the market in our area. If you live in a different area of the country, you will want to research your market specifically.

A good resource when determining the average price of a remodel in your market is Remodeling Magazine’s Annual Cost vs Value report. This report gathers the average price of various remodeling projects and finish levels throughout the major markets in the U.S.

Here are a few rules of thumb for the Kansas City market:

● If your home has a value of less than $300k you should try not to spend more than $40k.

● If your home’s value is $300k to $700k you should expect to spend $65k to $100k.

● If your home’s value is above $700k you could spend $85k and up.

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A bathroom in Kansas City after renovation with RWS

Custom & Luxury Master Bathroom Remodels

It is also possible that your primary focus is not ROI. You might own a $250k house and you’d like to do a $65k aging-in-place master bathroom remodel to stay in the home long-term. You might own a $10 million home and the sky is the limit. These custom or luxury types of remodels don’t fit well within the Home Value based methodology.

Instead, they require the homeowner to have clear goals and a deeper understanding of how different things impact the complexity and end cost of their remodel. Good communication with your remodeler and a detailed scope of work are critical to ensure success with these types of remodels.


Workmanship vs Budget Centric Contractors – How Different Contractor Types Affect the Cost of a Master Bathroom Remodel

The contractor you choose will be one of the biggest factors in determining the cost. There are two common types of contractors.

Ray Stillions-9215 Cherokee Ln-6577

Workmanship Contractors

Often described as “craftsman”, workmanship-centric remodelers focus on quality and attention to detail. Both they and their employees tend to be highly experienced and the mantra of doing things right has often become ingrained into their DNA. 

This means they will budget more time working in your home on the small details. They will make sure no screw is left unturned and the vision of the homeowner or designer is met with total precision.

Quality-minded contractors also spend more time working behind the scenes. When working on the plumbing and electrical lines, they will lay the lines in an orderly fashion. They tend to ensure that the mechanical elements inside the walls are well organized. 

Workmanship-focused remodelers are definitely capable of including cost-based considerations. But doing so at the expense of materials quality or unfinished details may be hard for them to swallow.

Budget-Centric Contractors

Budget-Centric contractors are experts in how to stretch a homeowner’s dollar. By definition, their focus is on finding ways in which to reduce costs, both in terms of materials and labor. They are often adept at using unconventional materials in order to reduce the hours required to complete the project.

Using a material like high-end linoleum might be uncomfortable for a workmanship-focused remodeler. A budget-centric contractor would be very open to the idea. Because of their intense focus on cost reduction, they don’t always include additional hours for the final finishes. 

This is not to say that a budget-centric contractor is going to do a bad job. It could mean that the project is less polished than a workmanship-centric contractor.

If your goal is to spend the least amount of money possible, a budget-centric contractor may be the best fit.

Changing My Bathroom Layout: How Much Does It Cost?

Questions about the feasibility and cost of changing a bathroom’s layout are some of the most common. These are highly dependent on your home and the degree of change. Here are some general guidelines that homeowners often find helpful.

  1. Enlarging a shower within its existing location is less expensive than relocating it within the bathroom. 
  2. Layout modifications involving the relocation of plumbing and electrical are labor-intensive and tend to increase costs.
  3. Relocating a toilet can be difficult and costly. While a drain line for a tub can pass directly through a floor joist, the 3” drain line for a toilet cannot, often requiring modification of the space below.
  4. Removing walls tends to be the costliest of bathroom layout changes. 

Allowances, The Contractor Shell Game

If you or someone you know has built a home, there’s a good chance you’ve heard grumbling about the unrealistic numbers the builder put in for faucets, lights, flooring, or any other number of allowance items. An allowance is a budgeted amount for a specific item that either can’t be or hasn’t been determined when the contract is signed. This amount will be adjusted when the final selection is made by the homeowner.

Unfortunately, allowances also happen to be an area where remodelers play shell games as well. At the end of the project, you might have selected $7 per square foot tile. The contractor may have quoted the allowance for $2 per square foot tile. The price difference is your financial responsibility, not his.

When it comes time to pick out materials for your bathroom, product options are nearly endless and prices range wildly. You can select tile for $2 per square foot to over $100 per square foot.

This is an extreme example, but it remains true for a lot of selections. The style and finish of your cabinetry. Whether your shower glass is framed or frameless. 

This is an area where a homeowner’s research early on can help defend them against a big surprise at the end. Spending a Saturday morning walking through a Ferguson Factory Direct plumbing showroom or DalTile can help you understand realistic costs for your allowance items.

Here are several places in Kansas City that you might find beneficial to visit:

Where To Save & Where Not To Save

No conversation about allowances and selections would be complete without discussing where to save and where not to save. For instance, installing a less expensive shower fixture built with plastic internal parts can do major damage if it fails. Here is a list of areas where we believe it makes sense to save and a few where an extra few dollars well spent.

Places To Save

Tile – Tile varies widely in both price and appearance, but the quality stays pretty stable. This is a great place to save.

Countertops – Depending on your design, porcelain, granite, quartz, and quartzite all perform well in bathrooms. Often, a client walks into the showroom dead set on quartz only to see a beautiful, less expensive granite that they fall in love with. Another great place to save.

Places Not To Save

Plumbing Fixtures – Given the amount of damage a poor-quality plumbing fixture can do to a home, this is never a wise place to save. Our advice would be to avoid the large box stores and stick with plumbing-specific companies like Ferguson or Neenan.

Cabinetry – Do your research when looking at cabinets. We encourage our clients to avoid vanities from materials like veneered MDF, pressed wood, or cabinet board. While there are quite a few pretty vanities built using these materials, they don’t usually hold up. A quick search for MDF water damage will make you think twice.

Permits – Permits tend to be inexpensive and the inspections protect both the homeowner and the remodeler. Worse still, many municipalities will stop all work. They might make the contractor tear out tile and drywall to allow visual inspection if you’re caught without one.

Remember, higher-quality materials will last longer and positively impact your ROI. Sticking to the guidelines above should help keep you out of trouble.

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A master bathroom renovation in Overland Park

It Looks To Be Good To Be True

If a proposal looks too good to be true, protect yourself and dig deeper. Reputable Contractor A may quote $65k for your project and Reputable Contractor B may quote $45k. It is unlikely that Contractor B can do the same quality project for $20k less. A difference in either the scope of work or the allowances numbers is the most likely culprit. Consider it a red flag if either of these two items are not detailed and clearly defined.

Your Next Steps for a Master Bathroom Remodel

After considering all the previous factors, think about what’s important to you in your remodel. Making a list of what you are looking for is a good start. While no article can tell you the exact dollar amount you are going to spend, the home value-based guidelines above are often a good place to start.

Your journey has begun and you should do as much research as you can. To learn more, check out more RWS content articles here. If you would like to explore the possibility of working with RWS Remodel on your project, please don’t hesitate to reach out by filling out our contact form and we will schedule a call!


Ray Stillions

About the Author Ray Stillions is the owner and operator of RWS Enterprises. He is a licensed and insured contractor with a BS degree from Pittsburg State University and has lived in the Kansas City area for over 35 years.