One would hope this question could be answered with some basic research. Unfortunately, as with kitchen remodeling costs, getting a quick, accurate estimate for the cost of a bathroom remodel can be tricky.
Three different sources will likely give you three very different answers, without explaining where the numbers are coming from. This post explains which variables most affect your bathroom remodeling cost, so you know what to expect—and what questions to ask—when you’re ready to get started on your project.
What Is the Average Cost of a Bathroom Remodel?
Many elements of bathroom remodels vary dramatically in cost, making averages less than accurate. However, if you can identify which elements contribute to the greatest cost differences, you’ll have a better idea of whether your bathroom budget will fall on the high or low end of the spectrum.
Below are five of the most significant contributors to your bathroom remodeling cost.
1. Alterations to Mechanical Elements
Some bathroom remodels are replacement-only projects, meaning the plumbing locations for the toilet, sink(s), tub, and shower will remain in place, with new fixtures replacing the old ones. Other remodels involve rearranging the bathroom layout, expanding into another room, or adding new fixtures such as a freestanding tub. The extent to which plumbing locations and other “behind-the-Drywall” mechanical elements are altered has a big impact on overall bathroom remodeling cost.
2. Age of Home
Since building practices and standards have changed over the years, older homes can present a number of challenges for bathroom remodeling. These homes, even when solidly built, are often out of plumb, level, and square. Their framing specifications and substructure were built differently than they are today. Staircases, hallways, and openings tend to be narrower.
All of these factors affect the installation of modern building materials. Due to substructure movement, a new tile floor may require a reinforced subfloor. Due to narrow joist spacing, a freestanding tub drain assembly may require modification to accommodate its width. These alterations require additional labor and materials, which affect the cost of a bathroom remodel.
3. Type of Materials & Finishes
When purchasing a computer, you don’t make your selection based on price alone. You know that the specs, quality, and durability of the budget laptop isn’t going to be the same as the top-of-the-line model. In short, you get what you pay for.
The same is true with building materials. Budget products are less durable and come with fewer features than midrange products. Upscale materials add seemingly endless options for luxury and customization.
It’s also important to consider what goes behind the walls. The products used for mechanical elements are often given little attention. Ensuring proper function and durability by using quality products might cost extra up front, but saves costly repairs down the road.
4. Hidden or Omitted Costs
Home improvement shows like Fixer Upper often share remodeling prices in a tidy list. This leads many homeowners to assume they could complete a similar remodel for the same price.
Unfortunately, these fun shows can create unrealistic expectations about remodeling budgets and timelines. The numbers they share often omit or reduce expenses that the average homeowner will incur, such as permits, project management, and labor. Online budget guides that list the average price of a bathroom remodel, often geared toward DIYers, sometimes leave these expenses out as well.
5. Location, Location, Location
Just as cost of living differs across the country, the cost of a bathroom remodel is affected by where you live. A bathroom remodel in urban Seattle is going to cost more than an identical remodel in rural Virginia. Local labor rates, licensing requirements, overhead costs, and material prices impact every remodeling company’s cost of doing business, and therefore their pricing structure.
Even in a relatively small service area like Lancaster County, there can be location-based pricing considerations. Compared to a suburban Leola bathroom remodel, the cost of a more urban Lancaster bathroom remodel may be affected by available parking and storage space. Are work vehicles able to park near an entrance, where tools and materials can be loaded and unloaded efficiently? Will parking permits will be required to give vehicles access to your home?
Some locations are more likely to have older homes, or require special permitting for historic preservation. An historic Strasburg or Lititz bathroom remodel will likely cost more than a Landisville bathroom remodel in a 1980s-era home.
Contractors will take location details such as these into account when determining your bathroom remodeling cost.
Where Can I Find Reliable Information about the Average Price of a Bathroom Remodel?
Hanley-Wood—a highly respected research group specializing in the housing industry—creates an annual Cost vs. Value report, which is published every year in Remodeling Magazine. This report provides national averages for common remodeling projects, along with localized regional averages.
While these averages should be considered in light of the elements listed above, they are a good place to start when budgeting for your bathroom remodel.
According to Hanley-Wood's 2022 Cost vs. Value report, the average cost of a bathroom remodel in the Mid-Atlantic region is $29,554 for Midrange bathrooms and $88,676 for Upscale bathrooms. The average bathroom remodel cost for Lancaster, PA is $26,957 for Midrange bathrooms and $81,364 for Upscale bathrooms.
Those numbers are a helpful starting point, but what do terms like "Midrange" mean?
What Else Should I Know about Budgeting for a “Midrange” Bathroom Remodel?
You may have noticed that the difference between “Midrange” and “Upscale” in Hanley-Woods’ report is significant. For all the reasons listed earlier in this post, it can be deceptive to put too much emphasis on a single number.
Our bathroom remodeling portfolio shows a selection of the Midrange and Upscale bathrooms we've built since 2003. In our experience, the term “Midrange”—perhaps more than any other category—encompasses a broad range of products and features.
To provide a little extra guidance on this topic, we have created our own Lancaster Bathroom Remodeling Cost Guide. In this guide, we've provided Hanley-Wood's Cost vs. Value averages, but also broken down the Midrange category into three subcategories: Midrange Economy, Midrange Designer, and Midrange Premium.
Examples of Midrange Bathroom Remodels
Midrange Economy bathrooms, like Christine's Lancaster bathroom remodel, typically consist of stock cabinetry and countertops, quality fixtures, an acrylic or fiberglass tub/shower, painted walls, and LVT or similar flooring.
Midrange Designer bathrooms, like Nicole's Manheim Township bathroom remodel, usually retain the bathroom's existing layout or include minor reconfigurations. Stock or semi-custom cabinetry, fresh finishes and paints, upgraded countertops, and inspired fixtures are common, and Designer Midrange remodels include a wide variety of options.
Midrange Premium bathrooms, like Heidi and Brett's Landisville bathroom remodel, may consist of a reconfiguration of the bathroom layout, with upgraded finishes like tile and glass shower enclosures. A Premium Midrange budget is highly versatile, allowing homeowners to consider a broad variety of finish options and design a luxurious, high-value bathroom.
Our cost guide includes the average price of a bathroom remodel in Lancaster based on these subcategories and the common features associated with each.
I hope this post has been helpful as you prepare for your Lancaster bathroom remodel. If you would like to discuss your bathroom budget or remodeling options in more depth, please consider scheduling a free, virtual consultation with one of our project consultants.
Written by Alison McLennan
Alison is President of McLennan Contracting, which she owns alongside her husband, Tim. Together they have three children, whom they homeschool. When she isn't working, teaching, or planning the family's latest RV trip, Alison can be found introverting with a book in one hand and coffee in the other, or playing video games with her kids.