Bathroom renovations are the most common renovation project in North America.
It makes sense – they’re inexpensive compared to other types of remodeling projects, and they are one of the places that we spend the most time in.
With that said, most people have no idea how much a bathroom will cost. And a quick search on Google will give you some crazy range of prices like $5,000 to $50,000.
Even if you look at the national average, your estimates will likely be far off because each city has different suppliers and labour markets that dramatically affect the price.
In this article, I’m going to guide you through a detailed breakdown of how much your bathroom renovation will cost if you live in Vancouver, BC. On average, you will likely spend between $15,000 and $22,000 for both labour and materials, although high-end bathrooms or large ensuites can be $30k or more.
For the purpose of this article, I’m only going to highlight the labour costs. For a look at materials costs, check out our bathroom cost calculator.
Our 3D design studio allows you to design your space with real-time pricing.
To understand why bathroom renovations can be so different in cost, it’s important to know how a bathroom remodel is actually done, and the costs involved in each step. So let’s get into it.
How to Renovate a Bathroom
The scope of your bathroom renovation will have a dramatic impact on the costs, so it’s important to understand and plan for exactly what you want done.
You might just want your faucets and vanity replaced, or you might want to rip the whole thing out and start over. Obviously, this will affect the cost.
If you’re planning to do a full 3-piece bathroom remodel, it will always start with a demolition.
Cost: $800-2000 (read on for details)
This is the part of the project where everything is taken out of the bathroom.
The contractors will typically cover the floors in your home to protect them from debris, and they will start tearing out the old tub, tiles, vanity, toilet, and everything else.
If your house is built before 1990, you should always get an asbestos test before beginning a demolition. Asbestos is a common building material that was used before 1990 and is known to cause cancer and damage to your lungs if inhaled.
The cost to test your tiles and drywall for asbestos is $150 plus $75 per sample. Most bathrooms will need at least 3 samples, for a grand total of $375 + GST.
If you find that asbestos is present in your bathroom, then a specialty environmental company will need to submit a file with WorkSafeBC and take special precautions to dispose of the materials.
This typically costs quite a bit more, ranging from $1500-2000 for a standard 5×8 foot bathroom, and even more if you live in a condo.
A normal demolition should take about a day to complete and will cost between $800 – $1000 for an average bathroom and up to $1500 for a large ensuite. With asbestos, it will take longer because all of the rooms of your home need to be properly sealed off from the contaminated area and the air quality will need to be tested before work can continue.
The real difference in cost comes down to the disposal of materials. Vancouver is very strict about the disposal of asbestos and drywall, so special measures must be taken to ensure it’s disposed of properly.
A regular bathroom may cost around $150 + time to dispose of old materials, while a bathroom containing asbestos can be 3-4x as much (this is included in the above cost).
Once the demolition is accomplished, the plumber will install the new tub or shower base, shower valves, replace any old piping or drains, and run new water lines as necessary.
If you don’t move any drains, this part can go quite fast.
Plumbers in Vancouver charge a lot for their work – often as much as $150 per hour. This means that plumbing is usually the most expensive part of a bathroom renovation.
If you’re moving drains or replacing pipes, make sure you hire a professional.
The plumbing for a standard 3-piece bathroom will cost about $2000-2500, but will cost more if you have a separate bathtub and shower, or if you decide to move your fixtures. This includes installing a tub or a shower pan, a vanity with the faucet, a toilet, a new shower valve (temperature control) and the shower fixtures.
Cost: $150-250 per item (average of $600)
The electrical work will be done alongside the rough-in plumbing.
The going rate for new electrical will be about $150-250 per item. This means that 2 new pot lights in your bathroom will cost around $400. Changing the switches, and installing the vanity light will be another $400.
A nice add-on to a luxury bathroom is a heated floor. Your tile-setter will install the underlayment and the system, and the electrician will hook it up to a thermostat so that you can easily control it.
A heated floor for an average sized bathroom will cost about $1200-1700 for all of the materials and the installation.
Tile Backer & Waterproofing
Once your bathtub or shower is installed and all of the rough work is completed, tile backer is installed on the shower walls. Tile backer is moisture-resistant and very durable compared to drywall. It doesn’t take long to install – about half a day. This part will cost about $300-600 for labour depending on the size and style of the shower.
Waterproofing is a critical part of any bathroom renovation – without it, your bathroom will come crumbling down in a few months.
For this reason, we normally opt for the best-in-category Schluter Kerdi waterproofing system, which comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s the best option for a waterproofing system, and it’s priced to match.
For a regular sized shower, the Schluter system will cost $800 in materials. For a fancier linear drain, you’ll pay double. This system will take a full day for a skilled tradesman to install, which will run you about $600-700.
Now if you’re just installing a bathtub, the Schluter system isn’t mandatory, and if you’re looking to save costs, applying RedGard to your walls will do the trick. A pail costs about $100, and only takes a couple hours to apply.
$1800-$2000 on average
Once your shower is waterproofed, the tiles will be installed. This will likely take 3 days for a regular sized bathroom:
- 1 day for floor tiles
- 1 day for the wall tiles
- 1 day to grout everything
Some tiles will take much longer than others to install. For example, a chevron or herringbone style tile pattern will take much more effort to plan, cut and install.
Glass and marble are also much more difficult to cut and require more expensive tools, often adding to the cost of installation.
The most common combination of tiles is porcelain for the floor (they’re more durable), and ceramic for the walls (they’re lighter and easier to install).
Once your tiles are completed, the hard part is out of the way. It should only take a few more days to finish up the project.
Finishing normally includes:
- Installing the shower head and trim
- Installing the toilet
- Installing the vanity and mirror
- Installing the final lighting
- Installing the shower door (if you have one)
All of the labour costs for these items have been mentioned above, with the exception of installing the shower door. This can be quite tricky, so I would recommend that a professional does it.
Glass Installation: $600-1000
Typically, glass installers will charge about $150 per hour. A typical glass door will take around 4 hours to install – so budget around $600 for this, on top of the cost for the door.
Glass doors also range in costs from $700 to about $1500. It really depends on the style and the manufacturer.
Smaller openings (<45”) should use a swinging glass door to save space, while larger enclosures can benefit from a sliding glass door.
You can also opt for a fixed glass panel, which will cost less to install and take up less space. They also look great with walk-in or curbless showers.
The only downside of a fixed glass panel is that it won’t always protect the rest of your bathroom from splashing water. We wrote another great article about walk-in showers which will tell you everything you need to know.
Now that your bathroom is finally finished, you might want to paint. Hiring a professional for this will cost about $600, including the paint. Or you can spend $80 on paint and try your hand at it.
I hope this has helped you to better understand the costs associated with a bathroom renovation.
If you are planning to renovate your bathroom, our bathroom design studio is a great tool to help you get started. You can pick items to add to your bathroom and see what they look like in 3D!
We have an awesome team of project coordinators, designers, project managers, and tradespeople to help you at every step of your renovation.
Send us an email or give us a call if you need some help.