Bathroom Renovation Do’s and Don’ts

After the kitchen, the bathroom is the most important room in the house when it comes to improving your entire home’s value. While many people agree that the ROI rates range from 60-100%, I feel confident that a well-designed bathroom renovation can return as much as 150-200% – if it’s done right.


Bathroom Planning

DON’T attempt to renovate an entire bathroom on your own. The bathroom is the worst room in the house to make a renovation mistake. With the quantity of water that flows through, a plumbing defect can have huge consequences. Hire a qualified professional and get it done right.

DO tackle small individual jobs within the bathroom yourself if you feel up to it. Quick and easy bathroom DIY projects include replacing a toilet (it’s easy I promise!), putting up towel bars and TP holders, and possibly replacing a vanity if you’re comfortable detaching and reattaching water lines. If you’re not sure what else you can do on your own, check out my article DIY vs Contractor.

DON’T forget about the technical aspects and give careful thought to where you want electrical outlets.

DO invest in a good quality bathroom fan. Moisture is enemy #1 in your home and without a good fan in the bathroom you run the risk of mould, rot and damaging the structure of the room.


Bathroom Layout 

DON’T change the room’s layout unless it really isn’t functional. If the layout is functional you’ll get the best ROI by keeping the fixtures in the same spot.

DO design a Jack & Jill washroom that offers two vanities, or a double sink within a large vanity, if space and budgets permit. This is a big selling feature, particularly in ensuite bathrooms off master bedrooms or in bathrooms that are shared between two bedrooms.

DON’T eliminate the tub in favour of a stand up shower if it’s the only one in the house. Although many people are starting to get rid of the shower/tub combo, bathtubs are essential for families with children. Homes without tubs will appeal to fewer buyers.

DO hide the toilet if you can. Putting the toilet in a separate enclosure is becoming very popular and as such it can be a great value-add. But you need a pretty big bathroom in order to accommodate this kind of layout. Don’t do it if it compromises the functionality of the space.

DO decide early on if you want spa-like finishes. Spa showers are turning up in all kinds of bathroom renos, but things like multiple shower jets and huge rain shower heads can be complex to install – some even needing their own water lines to accommodate the increased water flow. From an ROI perspective these are only worth it in very high-end homes.

DON’T use pedestal sinks unless it’s a small powder room where storage is not a concern. Vanities with hidden storage are always desirable if you have the space.

DO install a 36” vanity instead of the standard 24” if you have the space. Not only do you get more storage but you’ll have a good amount of counter space and room for a large mirror and vanity lighting above.

DON’T forget that there are all sorts of hidden areas that can be used for storage. For instance, if you’re doing a complete reno you can have custom-built wall cabinets recessed between the wall studs.

DO install a pocket door in order to maximize space in your bathroom. If this isn’t possible see if you can have the door swing out instead of in in order to maximize your bathroom’s footprint.


Design, Fixtures and Finishes

DO invest in quality faucets. Just like in the kitchen, you want something that’s sturdy and works well. I personally prefer the one-handled levered varieties as opposed to two handled models. They’re easier to use when brushing your teeth, shaving, etc.

DON’T go to over-the-top on your faucets. You want quality but if you overspend you won’t see a good return. Same goes for shower heads.

DO choose a countertop (often part of the vanity) based on how it complements the value of your home. In a pricey neighbourhood laminate might be too low end, while in modest neighbourhoods people might not be willing to pay extra for expensive marble.

DON’T buy a fancy toilet with features like voice commands and self-cleaning features unless it’s for your own personal enjoyment. These extra features haven’t caught on in North America and as of right now will not get you any kind of ROI.

DO opt for dual flush toilets that can save you water (most toilets now come with this feature).

DON’T put hardwood flooring or even laminate in a bathroom if you can avoid it. If any of these get soaked they might buckle and you’ll have to completely replace them.

DO use ceramic or porcelain tiles, or if you can’t use them due to an uneven surface consider vinyl plank flooring.


Investing in your bathroom is a good idea if you want to increase the value of your home. Whether you opt for a basic upgrade or a full gut and renovation make sure you plan it out carefully and make smart decisions. Spend where it counts and don’t price yourself out of the neighbourhood.

For more information about bathroom renovations check out my book How to Add Value to Your Home.



Photos courtesy of Skit Inc.

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