Tweaking a Renovation Budget: How to make the right decisions

tweaking a renovation budget

Tweaking a Renovation Budget: How to make the right decisions

This past week, we started a new project, in conjunction with Debra Blake Designs, to update a main bathroom. For this project we had to do some tweaking of the renovation budget prior to starting.

Background of the Bathroom

First of all, the home that we are working in may potentially be sold within five years. It’s always good to know that ahead of time when we start to discuss the investment into the project.

The main bathroom had a previous renovation that the homeowner did not like. When Debra showed me the bathroom and asked for suggestions on how to update it, I sketched a quick image of what I would do.

tweaking a renovation budget
Tweaking the budget | The first plan for this main bathroom.

Here is what was on my list:

  1. Remove the arch so that the room feels spacious.
  2. Deal with the extended pony wall and cut it back to allow for an extension of the counter top or extend the vanity.
  3. Remove the tub surround and replace it with a new bathtub.
  4. Install 12X24 large format tile, around the tub.
  5. Have new flooring installed.
  6. Install new counter top, sink and faucet.
  7. Remove existing mirror and install a new one.
  8. Remove the current vanity light and replace with new one.
  9. Repaint the bathroom.
  10. Fix any deficiencies.

Fixing the deficiencies was a must for me!

tweaking a renovation budget
Tweaking the budget | We would never do this kind of work!

The current vanity counter overhang was over 2″. IF the previous renovation would have made this counter a ‘standard’ 1 1/2″, they would have never had to notch out the door casings. We will not be doing this and we will fix this.


When the budget came if for the ‘full meal deal’ on what we had suggested, the investment was sitting at just over $20,000. For our client, that was too much to put into this room when the home may be potentially sold. We needed a tweaking of this renovation budget!

Tweaking the Budget

While this was a little bit of a let down, I have to say that this is very typical. Everyone who is looking to carry out a renovation would like to have it all. When the investment doesn’t make sense, we start to tweak the budget.

On my recommendation, I suggested the following that would significantly save on the budget, as well as the timeline.

1. Keep the existing tub. This saves a ton of money in the budget as you no longer need to:

  • Purchase a new tub.
  • Carry out drywall work around the bathtub.
  • Purchase new tile for 3 full walls.
  • Pay a tile installer to waterproof and tile 3 full walls.

2. We were always keeping the vanity, but we were able to select a remnant piece to save on the budget (and BTW – it is GORGEOUS)!

3. Instead of dealing with any ceiling work and more drywall work, we decided to keep a little header. This is not going to change the new open feel of this space.

4. The selections that Debra made were tweaked a bit to pinch on the budget.

Final Investment

From making those smart decisions and tweaking the renovation budget, we went from a labour (only) budget of just over $16K, to a labour budget of just under $10K!

I know I may sound like a broken record but where I live, the labour is roughly 2/3 of the overall investment in a renovation. It may be different where you live, but I can tell you it is certainly different from what you see on T.V.

In Progress

When we were able to present the tweaking of the budget, our client was good to proceed with this project.

We have just under three weeks to turn this bathroom around and it already looks like a totally new space.

Tile is going to be installed this coming week as well as the new counter and sink. While we wait until next week to see the pretty, here is what this space is starting to look like.

tweaking a renovation budget
Tweaking the budget | In progress

You can always follow along with this progress on our Facebook or Instagram accounts.

The Pretty

I just can’t leave you with these construction photos, so here is what Debra has picked out for all of the pretty.

tweaking a renovation budget
Tweak the Budget | Selections by Debra Blake Design

I look forward to updating you in two weeks when this is all complete!

Shop the Look

While we spend time curating product for our clients, I have pulled together some similar looks for you. I hope you enjoy them.

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