Consider going the DIY route
Working on a low budget possibly means putting in a little sweat equity. While this isn't an option for everyone, if you're handy you can forgo the contractor here and there and do the labor yourself—apply paint or wallpaper, change out a toilet or sink, or switch out hardware.
Enlist a friend for help, watch videos online, and ask questions. Call for assistance with complicated electrical or plumbing issues beyond the scope of your abilities. And if you’re not taking the bathroom down to the studs, which we assume you’re not since you’re working on a budget, why not design the remodel yourself?3
A budget-friendly renovation is doable
Sometimes a few cosmetic changes can make a big difference without big spend. Fresh paint, caulk and grout, and new fixtures can all breathe new life into a bathroom without breaking the budget.
Apply a fresh coat of paint
With paint, consider the mold and steam factor and make sure you use a high-grade paint with a satin finish to ward off mold. You might want to go over the ceiling as well to protect it from moisture.
New caulk or grout provide a clean look
Dirty, grimy caulk and grout are unsightly. Giving the grout a good scrub and going over caulk with clean straight lines or adding it around the tub and sink can give your bathroom sparkle and shine on a budget.
Install new hardware
Rather than a new vanity, change out the hardware along with faucets and towel bars. Hardware and fixture changes are typically easier DIY projects and breathe new life into a bathroom.4
Shop around for the best deals
Do some research before jumping into your bathroom renovation. It’s more time-consuming and requires a little extra work on your part, but it can save you money in the end.
Lots of people are doing projects, and there’s hefty competition in the building supply market. So let a store knowing you’re working on a home remodeling project. Show them your shopping list and see if they offer discounts when you purchase everything from their store. It’s also smart to find out if a store will beat or match prices of competitors.
And of course, explore the Internet. Try using a shopping bot or shopping comparison site rather than searching one site at a time. And look for low-cost substitutes—luxury vinyl flooring instead of real wood plank flooring, for example, can save a nice chunk of change.5
Recycle and buy used
Recycle what you can. Rather than purchase a new tub, have your existing tub reglazed or relined and put that money toward other changes such as new fixtures or lighting. DIY tutorials are available online but hiring an expert to do the job will save time, and you’ll probably still spend less in the end.
Shop around for pre-owned fixtures and accessories. Thrift stores, eBay, and Craigslist are awash with recycled items you can use for your renovation. Stop by your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and see what treasures you can dig up. You just might find that perfect fixture, vanity, or even tile at a fraction of the regular price.6
Go green and save some green
Going green can save you money. If you are purchasing new, then go for low-flow sinks, toilets, and shower heads that will help you conserve water and save you money in the process.
Prices are often comparable to and sometimes less than traditional options. You’ll spend the same amount and get an immediate return on your investment when the utility bills arrive.7