Building & Renovating

Expert Advice: 4 Things to Ask Before Renovating Your Bathroom

Discover tips and let these answers help you make the most of your budget


Before anything else, know that a complete bathroom makeover is a major expense. It’s not just some project that you can start, put on hold, and continue doing after a few months, so you need to set a budget early on. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of money, just decide on how much you are willing to spend. From there, you can make a list of your priorities, then allocate an amount for the different items within the scope of your project.

These items include—demolition works (removing existing fixtures, tiles, walls if necessary), plumbing works (replacing existing bathroom fixtures, transferring water lines/drains, changing the layout if needed), electrical works (additional outlets, exhaust fan, water heater, lighting points and switches), tiling works (installation of new floor and wall tiles), carpentry works (for new cabinets, open shelves, storage pieces, a vanity), painting works, and styling, to name a few. Here are four important things that you need to consider before working on this private space:

Who will you hire?

If budget permits, you could hire a professional (either a contractor and/or an interior designer) for the project. This will make things easier for you because you won’t have to worry about the workers that you need to hire or buy the construction materials yourself. Also, there will be less room for error, since these people know the ins and outs of bathroom renovations.

For contractors, discuss your timelines and review the specifications of the materials that they plan on using. Give them a deadline and make sure you sign a contract. Consider consulting with an interior designer as well, instead of getting his or her full service. Availing of limited services, like material selection and consultation will come out cheaper for you as the client. Professional services require a premium price for project management which will be on top of the basic expenses for labor and materials.

On the other hand, if you want to save and you plan on overseeing the renovation yourself, you may have to hire the following workers individually—a plumber, a mason/tile setter, a carpenter, an electrician, and probably a painter.

Take note of their payment options—pakyaw vs. arawan. This means that the workers get paid in either lump sum or on a daily basis. With hired help, you can request them to make a list of materials that they will be needing beforehand. Prepare these items before you ask the workers to start on the project. This does not mean that you will only be making a one time purchase for the necessary items. You also need to double check the list of materials as sometimes they overestimate quantities.

Photo by William Ong.

What are the items that you need to keep?

Should you replace your existing bathroom fixtures or just retain them? The answer could be a yes and a no. To balance your expenses, you may want to keep some of your existing fixtures, especially if they are of quality—like your existing bathroom sink and bathroom mirror as well.

You can revamp your sink counter by replacing the countertop and by giving the door a fresh coat of paint. Your mirrors can look new again by just having them framed in your choice of molding design.

For the tiles, you need to decide if you want to retile the whole bathroom. Do you keep the existing floor tiles and just have them regrouted?

You also need to answer the more difficult questions such as—Do you want to change your bathroom's layout? Do you want to extend your bathroom? These questions may require the expertise of a contractor or an interior designer.

Photo by Pat Martires.

What are the things that you need to add?

Consider adding ample storage space as your old bathroom may not have enough. Overhead shelving and under counter cabinets work best for bathrooms. Make sure you have a place to store all your essentials— toiletries, towels, and cleaning materials, to name a few.

In line with this, make sure that your contractor and workers use 3/4" Marine Plywood for your cabinets as this material is best used in areas like bathrooms and kitchens. You may also want to change your existing lighting layout. Balanced lighting in bathrooms is very important, you also need to take this into account.

Photo by Dairy Darilag.

Where can you buy the things that you would need?

There are a lot of local depots where you can source from, to name a few are: CW Home Depot, Wilcon, MC Home Depot, and All Home.

For more options, you can visit stores like, La Europa Ceramica, Baldosa or Floor Center for tiles and Kuysen Enterprises and Vinova Bathroom Fixtures for faucets and bathroom fixtures. You might get carried away when you start shopping, so before heading out to a depot of your choice make sure that you have a list of the items that you need to purchase. While you may find cheaper options, these won't last long. Always choose quality fixtures! Ask yourself and do your research— What are they made of? Is the material ceramic or porcelain? In which country were they produced? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and look around first until you find the specific tile or sink counter that you absolutely love.

Photo by Marc Jao.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

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