How much will my bathroom remodel cost me in Chicago? Short answer. 8K to 60K. That was a lot of help, wasn’t it? But read on and I’ll try to explain some factors that will help you understand how much your bathroom remodel in Chicago should cost.

We’ll start at the bottom, down and dirty, a 8 to 12K guest bathroom rehab and then work our way up as the size, quality, features, location add onto the cost. I’m going to show you how 6K becomes 60.

Down and dirty:  8 to 12 K

This is a guest bathroom where EVERYTHING stays in the same place, one shower/tub, one toilet/one vanity, sink, mirror. Good news: that’s the majority of bathroom remodels. A tub can come out and become a shower or visa versa. The materials at 8K will be pretty limited, Home Depot display level or mid-range kitchen and bath display level. That’s where they have hall the cabinetry, tile and fixtures coordinated. Choices are limited and off the shelf.

The good news is they can look good — better than anything I grew up with as a kid and the materials will likely be good enough to do their job well.  A 30 dollar shower head and a 600 dollar shower head basically feel the same on your scalp. The bad news maybe the contractor. It really depends. At that price point, the work won’t be perfect but it might do its job, meaning the wall tile will stay on the wall and the downstairs neighbor won’t call you and tell you there’s a suspicious stain on the ceiling.

Hiring a contractor at this level is tricky business. The uncertainty factor of getting someone who will show up when promised and do competent work is high. So LOTS of checking is necessary.

At 12K, you get a lot more choices and a contractor you might actually be able to find on Yelp with good reviews. The chance of getting quality work is much higher. It won’t likely be perfect but there will be a big bump up. There will be more choices of materials and you might be able to mix and match a little to personalize it to your style. Very often the contractor will give you their ideas. They often know what’s trending in their price point because they do a bathroom every 2 weeks.

The biggest risk at this level is the contractor taking 3 months to do 2 weeks of work. We did a residence for the Austrian Consulate and their previous contractor did a wonderful bathroom for them at about 30% less than what I would have charged for it. But it took him 9 months. So they called us and we did their kitchen in 2 weeks (after 14 weeks of design and preparation)

Next level up:  Basic Designer  12 to 20K guest bathroom

We’re still dealing with a small bathroom, 5 x 8.5 for the most part, 110 square feet of tile on the floor and walls.  But now you can have design help and many more choices in terms of materials and fixtures. One the lower end the designer will be part of a tile and bath store and at the higher end, they may be an independent interior design firm.

Habitar Design and Stratagem Construction’s bathrooms start at about 18K plus 1.5K for design work on average. For that you get top quality design tailored to you needs and aesthetic and impeccable tile work, service and warranty.  We also get in and out in a few weeks. Other firms in this price range probably perform in a similar fashion. One thing we emphasize at this price point is that we take the uncertainty out of the process. You don’t have to worry about someone not showing up or answering the phone.

Here’s what you get in a bathroom like this on the higher end: 

Next Level up: Higher End Designer Guest Bathrooms 20  to 40K

This is all about the add-ons:  are you picking a $350 faucet Grohe or a $1250 faucet from Restauration Hardware?

The add-ons come in 4 sorts, better materials, more materials, complexity and major relocations.

Better and more materials are easy to understand. You will have a tile allowance, say 10/square foot. If you pick tile at 30/ft and you have 110 feet of tile, it’s as easy as 110 x 20 to know how much it will cost.  $2200. Same goes for faucets, tubs, toilets and so on.

Custom cabinet by Habitar design.  Guest bathroom remodel.  All fixtures relocated.

More materials is similarly easy to understand. All this pricing is based on 5 x 8.5 foot bathroom.  When you bathroom is 6 x 10 it will need more tile, paint, etc. and that applies to both materials and labor. But besides being larger, you might decide to tile all the walls of your bathroom half way up.   The tile and labor will add to the price in proportion to the size and complexity.

What does complexity mean? Say you create a tile design that has a complicated pattern that requires most of the tiles to be cut possibly with lots of waste and adjustments to compensate for the different thickness of the different tile in the pattern. This creates a lot more and will likely result in higher price.

But complexity goes beyond the work itself.  Say you live in a 4 story walk up or your high-rise building only allows work between 9 AM and 3:45PM, that’s going to cost more — the walk up just a little, maybe, it depends on the contractor, but high rise work will cost significantly more.

The reasons renovation in high rises cost more are multiple. First a huge amount of the work day is lost because of restrictions. In a single family home, the work day can be 9 hours or more long. A high-rise cuts work hours by 20 to 35% on average.

Next, the elevators have to be reserved and sometimes their use is blocked so that just getting materials and tools requires major effort or delays. Think how much more work it is to get into a place on the 20th floor than walking into a single family home from the garage. In addition, often require protection and cleaning each day further shortening the workday. Finally, there are parking issues, liability issues — the broken sprinkler head that can destroy all things — and dealing with the board and neighbors that can hear things (and smell things with near superhuman ability.)

If you live in a high-rise and your contractor knows what he’s doing, the cost will be 15% or more than in a single family home.

Lastly, major relocations can really add to cost.

In construction, there are 4 costs to everything.  1. Removing the old fixture and location.  2. Roughing in the new location.  3. Purchasing the new fixture.   4. Installing the new fixture.

So moving something can twice as much as just replacing it. This is a wild simplification. It depends very much on what they are. Moving a shower head from one side of the other not a big deal but moving a toilet may be expensive and even impossible. Moving waste pipes is one of the larger costs that drives the plumbing expense.

One other really large expense is moving walls particularly when grabbing space from a nearby room.   Think about it: You have to fix the floor, the ceiling, reroute electrical most likely but possibly HVAC and plumbing, then you have to remove what was on the other side of the wall, say a closet built in, and then often rebuild the area. So the price of this is unpredictable other than to say it won’t be cheap and entirely dependent on goals and existing conditions.

That covers the additions but how can you SAVE money?

Do less. Keep the tub. Paint the cabinets. Keep the mirror. For more on this keep checking future blogs as I will write on this topic. A good designer can also advise you on the topic.

One other piece of advice:  avoid architects for bathroom remodels. That’s a sideshow for most of them and they know far less than designers like our own who do it every day. They tend to do things that are overkill and then bid the bathroom out to contractors who cost more for less. Habitar Design and Stratagem construction is a better deal.

Now what about master bathrooms?

If they have two of everything, two sinks, a shower and tub and about twice the size, think double the price. Now they usually have one toilet so that’s a savings.

Some contractors do master bathrooms starting at 20K. That will be about the level of 12K guest bathroom. Our masters starts at about 30K and go up to 65K if they have a view of the City.

Large format tile with materials from Porcelanosa

If you happened to live in the Chicago area and want specific pricing for your project, don’t hesitate to call us at Habitar Design 773-895-5154. We take the worry out of renovation. To also see more of our bathroom renovation work, click here.

Article by Mitchell Newman, Principal of Habitar Design and Stratagem Construction. Mitch has twenty years of experience in construction and has been named twice in the Fixr 200 for top influencer in the industry. His company has won numerous awards based on recognition by consumers.