You'd think that a house that was only 12 years old wouldn't need many upgrades, but ours did. It had great bones and we had great vision, so we were game for some remodeling.
Before moving in, we hired a contractor to paint, change light fixtures, install a wood floor in the second floor hallway and do some trim work. We had no intention of updating our bathrooms, but within days of moving in, my husband began obsessing about it.
We hadn't budgeted for bathroom renovations, but decided to just get an estimate. Can't hurt, right? Wrong. $2,400 just for granite? Ouch. Despite the cost, however, we wanted to make it happen economically.
A friend suggested shopping for remnants, and we learned that we could purchase exotic pieces left over from other jobs for a fraction of the price – but there was a catch. Because we needed such a large piece, we had to be patient and wait for enough remnant material to become available.
We then began working with a granite fabricator who took measurements and noted our color preferences. Later, he called us when the right piece came in. Not only were we not in a rush, we were happy to wait and save up, as the granite was not in the original budget.
In the meantime, we realized that we could pull the same trick in two other bathrooms (for a total of three renovated bathrooms), using the savings from one towards the next, while paying only once for the installation, plumber and electrician. Having to wait a year worked in our favor budget-wise so that we could save up and embark on a triple mini-facelift for three bathrooms at once.
This bathroom featured an oversized double vanity with an endless white expanse. So, we had the granite fabricator cut and remove the under-mount sinks (which were in perfect condition) and had him reuse them, along with the old faucets.
We also purchased new light fixtures and slapped on a fresh coat of paint. My husband cut and installed a wood frame around the gigantic mirror for a more finished look. My husband spent less than $100 in materials – saving us about $350 had we hired a carpenter. We spent about $2,000 on the granite, plumbing and electrical work. Had we purchased a non-remnant piece of granite, new sinks, and faucets, we would've spent about $4,000.
Total savings: We were thrilled to save $2,000, $350 in material costs.
We had yet another basement bathroom with more boring white counters. While innocuous, the counters lacked interest and pizzazz. After the granite remnant success on the first bathroom, we pulled the same trick in this bathroom, along with adding a new vessel sink and faucet.
The plumber installed all the sinks on the same day, which also added to the savings. We discovered that it costs $50 for the granite fabricator to cut the hole necessary to install an undermount sink. A new vessel sink also costs $50, but only requires a small hole necessary for drainage, which is cut on site at no charge. So we opted to purchase a new vessel sink, which added an edgier look to our otherwise traditional home.
The cost of the granite, sink, and faucet was $900. Had we not used a remnant, we would've spent about $1,500.
Total savings: We applied our $600 in savings towards the final bathroom project.
This renovation was for our tiny powder room. This space featured a useless pedestal sink with little room on either side or underneath to store a basket for toilet paper or tissues. We found an all-in-one 24″ cabinet at our local home improvement store, which had a marble top, sink, and faucet with ample storage space.
The unit was about $450 installed, and would've probably cost about $1,000 had we purchased a cabinet, countertop, and faucet separately. We were looking for a cottage-type feel but debated dark paint in such a small space. In the end, we decided to take a chance, as paint didn't seem like a huge investment or gamble. We loved the cozy cottage-like feel that resulted.
Total savings: Going for the all-in-one saved $550.
All of these upgrades took about a week to complete. The project did not break the bank – or my nerves. Because we waited a year for the right piece of granite to materialize, we were able to plan and save – as well as apply the savings towards upgrading two other bathrooms in the process. We enjoyed the project and didn't feel like we flushed our money down the tubes. In fact, our tale of three toilets had a very happy ending.