How to choose the right products for my bathroom on a budget?

How to choose the right products for my bathroom on a budget?

Before we can answer this question, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. 

Are you getting ready to sell your home or are you preparing to build your dream bathroom? 

As you can imagine, there are many possibilities available to you at many different prices. It’s hard to navigate what is the right product without first understanding what philosophy will make sense to you. If you fall into the my “dream bathroom” camp, then I have found it very valuable for my clients to build their dream bathroom without any restrictions in mind. It is through this process you will learn what you like. Once we have everything picked and we share the total price with you, I find typically one of two things happen:

a) “It wasn’t as bad as I would have expected.”
b) “What are you crazy how much?!” 

Once you have gone through this process, you will start to see what you truly want versus what you thought you would need.  

To the people who are selling their home and want something that looks nice and for the cheapest price, I have a couple of rules for you. If water is coming out or going through,  make sure you purchase something reputable with a brand name that will stick behind what they sell.  There are a lot of products out there that are available to suit your investment. 

For products that are like an accessory or mirror, these are the areas where you can probably take a risk on but remember, in life, you get what you pay for. The last thing you want is something that will come back to haunt you in the future. You probably weren’t expecting that  but let me explain. In any bathroom renovation or remodel we have to worry about:

a) will it fit in my space?
b) will my installer know how to install it? 
c) will it match my design?
d) will it fit my budget?

Typically we start with things that we like, and it will give us an idea of what you want but will it work for you?

Will it fit my space? 

Just because we like something, doesn’t mean it will work. We need to make sure that it fits your space, layout, design and budget. Such important questions to ask yourself. If it doesn’t fit the space, you might be stuck with something that will not fit. 

To pick the right products, first you need to learn the order of priority and sequence to have the information for the appropriate trade at the right time. Nothing is more frustrating to a professional then you not knowing what you are putting in. 

Give yourself the right amount of time to be able to get the products that you want. If you need a screw, chances are they will be in stock at your local hardware store but if you want a gold faucet you might need to wait 4-8 weeks to receive it which can have a significant impact on your project and the time that it will take to do it. 

I hate using industry jargon but you might often hear the term ‘rough’ in which simply means the things that go behind the walls. I want you to think of it like a car; it would be the engine that runs the entire show and process. Now I want you to think of the body of the car, that’s like your faucets or plumbing. If you choose a Toyota, you have to use Toyota parts, you wouldn’t be using Honda parts. This is very true for plumbing fixtures. Not only is the engine the most important thing you will be installing, it is buried behind the wall by some kind of board, then some kind of waterproofing followed by tiles or panels or wall surrounds.

I find it critical to use reputable brands that will stand behind their product and that you will be able to get replacement parts for in the future. This is typically the first thing that gets installed and gets picked at the absolute last moment.

Next is typically your shower or bathtub. These items are important because they take a long time to get. You want to make sure that you leave the right amount of space so that everything makes sense and flows nicely together. This way, we are all on the same page together. The larger items are important to be of good quality. Typically, the items that are installed in a bathroom have the average lifespan of 25 years, depending on how well you maintain your bathroom and what type of maintenance schedule you want to follow for your home.

How much do I want to spend?

I will never forget when I had a customer who purchased a faucet from me. They called me up a couple of days later and shared with me that at their local big box store, they had the same faucet for $100 less than the cost that I sold it to him. He was a curious man and said he would wait for the faucet to arrive and went to the big box store and purchased it. He then brought it in and we examined the two faucets side by side. First thing was evident was the model numbers. Although they were the same, their was a slight variation in the number. Second, was the weight. The faucet from the big box store was 50% lighter then the one that arrived at the store. Third, when we opened up the box the scale of the faucet was also different.  The big box one was smaller in scale then the one that was ordered through us. Also when we examined the faucet further, it had plastic parts and the other one had brass parts. 

The same is true for toilets. The parts on the inside might not be the same. So depending on your situation and what you value, you may have more maintenance to worry about and the warranty might not be as long. Or you may have to change the parts more frequently.

Even worse is if you take a gamble on purchasing from companies that aren’t large or reputable. When the time comes and you need to replace a part, you will go and shop around but you will not be able to find the parts you need which will leave you in a situation where you now have to replace.

For some people they might not be worried. I hear things like “oh it’s for my basement”, “it’s for my guest bathroom that nobody ever uses” or “we are flipping the house and as long as it looks good, it’ll be fine until the ink dries on the sale then its not my problem”. 

You might be thinking “well I am handy, replacing something isn’t a big deal. I will just go and purchase a new one and install it myself”. I would have to ask you about the time, money and effort you are going to be spending purchasing another faucet. Never mind the fact that you paid a renovator to install it for you plus the cost of the existing faucet. 

Let’s pretend that’s a couple $300 that you spent on a faucet, parts and for the bathroom installer to do the work. Now you say to yourself “I don’t want to make that mistake again” so you go and pick up a reputable faucet and the cost of the faucet is $279+HST. You pay a plumber $300 to install the faucet. 

For $879, you could have purchased something that would last you a lifetime, never mind the hassle and frustration of removing it and shopping finding someone to do it. Let’s say your handy and you don’t have to pay the plumber. You still have $579 to purchase  a faucet which is an amazing budget. 

Things that go on the outside of the wall like bathroom mirrors, accessories, hardware, pictures, paintings, etc that don’t have any moving or working parts are places where you can save some money if that is what you are hoping to do. But be careful, some of these items over time may rust, fade, corrode etc… and you may have to replace them in the future. 

Selling quality in a budget world

The trend towards real estate flipping increasingly influences what customers are willing to spend on bathroom products and bathroom renovation materials. Higher quality upgrades often take a back seat to the lowest first cost they can find in the bathroom renovation world. Owners balk at putting in quality fixtures because they are only going to occupy the house for a few months or years and don’t see a personal payback. It’s sad to say that future homebuyers paying over half a million dollars for a house will get stuck with a mediocre bathroom because the previous owner didn’t see the value in passing on a quality bathroom to them.