A bathroom renovation typically offers a 64 to 71 percent return on your investment, by increasing the resale value of your house, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Beyond the boost in resale price, a bathroom reno will also help you, your family and guests enjoy your home — and that can be priceless.

Actual price, however, is a key component of effectively planning your bathroom reno.

“Before you start renovating, you’ll want to think about your bathroom, your needs and your budget,” advises the CMHC’s bathroom-reno fact sheet. “This will save you money and also help you to be better informed if you’re dealing with contractors.”

Tiling together a plan

Your bathroom reno can range from something as simple as updating the look to a complete overhaul for a jaw-dropping reveal. Either way, the last thing you want is to spend time and money on a renovation that’s incomplete or doesn’t meet your current and future needs. To maximize your investment, take a step back and see the entire scope of your project:

  • Is it a good fit? Size matters when your family is growing. But layout is also important in order to maximize space and use. Think about what your family’s needs are today and what they will be in a few years. And don’t forget about storage space.
  • Do the fixtures need fixing? Problems with fixtures can range from looking outdated to being damaged, cracked and leaky, which can cause structural damage. But the CMHC also recommends looking at water and energy efficiency. “Outdated fixtures usually mean higher energy and resource costs,” they say. “New toilets can save more than 70 percent of water per flush. Low-flow showerheads can save 60 percent on water usage.” Even compact fluorescent lighting (which is four times more efficient than standard bulbs) will save you some money.
  • Can that wall come crumbling down? “Assess the structure carefully,” advises the CMHC. “Your proposed renovation must either fit the existing structure or the changes must be possible.” That may require expert help; ignoring load-bearing walls and supporting beams and joists could mean that you do more harm — like having a wall collapse — than good.
  • Is moisture a problem? Water stains, mold growth, blistering or peeling paint, chipped or cracked gout or caulking, and buckled or swollen surfaces typically mean leaks or — because it’s a bathroom — high humidity. While new finishes may hide water damage, they won’t solve the problem. “Unresolved water problems, from building or plumbing leaks to the high humidity generated by bathroom activities, will cause renovations to deteriorate quickly and may contribute to mold growth and result in serious indoor air quality problems,” says the CMHC.
  • Is the plumbing up to scratch? Low water pressure, banging noises, a slow drain or one that emits odours, may mean that the pipes need to be repaired or upgraded. Wiring is another consideration, especially if your home is more than 30 years old and you want to install modern conveniences that may overload your current system.
  • Balance heating with ventilation. A proper heating source will ensure you don’t get the chills when taking a bath or shower. Doing away with musty or stale odours involves good ventilation. “Ideally, install a whole-house ventilation system, including a heat recovery ventilator,” advises the CMHC. “If that’s not an option, install a quiet exhaust fan with adequate airflow capacity to handle excess humidity.”
For a handy checklist of things to consider when planning a bathroom upgrade, refer to the CMHC fact sheet, Before you start renovating your bathroom.