Bathroom Renovations Replacing a vanity, buying a stock versus custom vanity, and “What if…”then…

Renovating your bathroom not only enables you to enjoy your home more but done properly, a renovation can also be a cost-effective way to increase the value of the investment you have already made in your home.

If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, even simple cosmetic changes such as new faucets, lighting fixtures and paint can make a bathroom look fresher and more modern to prospective buyers.* The Appraisal Institute of Canada lists the renovation of a bathroom completed with mid-level finishes as one of the renovations with the best return on investment and a possible return on your investment (ROI) of between 75 1to 100%.*

If you are thinking about renovating to enjoy your home for the longer term, then as in any small or large renovation, you need to start by asking yourself a few important questions:

1) What do you like about your current bathroom space?
2) What would you like to change?
3) Why would you like to make these changes?
Consider who uses this bathroom and how it is currently used.When you are answering questions #2 and 3, consider your lifestyle, maintenance habits, the importance of accessibility, environmentally friendly or green options and energy efficiency.
4) Do you plan to stay or are you considering selling your home within the next five years?
5) Have you seen something that you would like that requires special ordering and that may take more than the standard order period to arrive?
6) Do you have an important deadline or special events that you need to keep in mind when scheduling your renovation and purchasing items?
e.g. visitors from out of town will be arriving by…, you will be having a party and guests will be needing access etc.

Once you have answered the above questions, you can start getting into the nitty gritty decisions on your selection of options.

Let’s try one “what if” question to see what decisions need to be made as a result of changing one item in your bathroom, the vanity.

Typically, massed produced products from a retailer will be offered in one version; that is, you can have that vanity in that colour, style with that countertop material/sink. Period. The lack of customization and use of basic materials enable the manufacturer to mass produce these units and to offer these vanities at fairly reasonable prices. Once you check whether that vanity is pre-drilled for a single lever or 3 hole faucet, you can go out and buy a faucet you like.

Some retailers, including big box stores, sell lines that offer some customization; that is, you could choose from a few countertop materials and vanity colours or finishes. Again, you would need to check to see whether that vanity is pre-drilled for a single lever or 3 hole faucet, and then you can go out and buy a faucet you like. These vanities are sometimes special order items and require several weeks lead time for production and delivery. Generally, these semi-custom units tend to use better quality, more expensive materials and therefore cost a little more than vanities that are not customizable.

If you want to have choice on all the parts of a vanity, then you are now looking at a custom vanity. With this decision, you need to consider several components:

1) vanity – style, material, door profile (if custom) and colour/finish;
2) door hardware – style and finish;
3) countertop material – colour or pattern, finish;
4) countertop edge type;
5) backsplash – integrated or not, type of material; colour(s) or pattern;
6) faucet – style, finish and type;
7) sink(s) – type colour/material and shape.

Now, for every component, you have to make a decision on the style or type. For instance, if you have definitely decided that you want to replace the vanity with another vanity and not a pedestal sink, then you may want to think about the type of sink you want. Will it be an integrated, drop-in or under mount sink?
And these questions are just about your sink and countertop.

Obviously in ordering a custom vanity, there are more questions and more decisions to be made than in buying a product straight off the aisle. This is the time that browsing online sites, clipping out magazine photos or browsing retail shops can really help you get a good look at options and costs.

Okay, so let’s say that you have chosen your new vanity. It may be production, somewhat customized or a custom unit built to order from your specifications. Are there any decisions left to consider?

Well, you may have to consider what we refer to as the “snowball” questions; that is, decisions that may need to be made as a result of your decision to change your vanity.

If you choose to change the size of your vanity, this may mean that you will need to replace the flooring, especially if you do not have extra tiles available.

If you need to replace the flooring, this will mean that you will have to take off the trim, whether it’s tile, MDF or wood trim. If the trim is old, this is a good time to replace it with a more updated style.

Relatedly, a new mirror and new location for wall sconces may also be necessary to rebalance the different-sized vanity.

So, whether you decide to start shopping for a stock or custom vanity, you do have some considerations to ponder for your selections. Either way, try to establish some type of budget range, a list of features or requirements and then you can start looking to see what suits your taste and budget. With your budget and features list in hand, you can start browsing and finding the products that are right for you.