The 5×7 bathroom is a common primary bathroom layout in many older homes. If your bathroom is one of them, and you’re itching to sell your home in the near future, you may be wondering how you can remodel the space to feel more spacious, functional, and attractive to buyers. While it’s easy to resent the cramped nature of a 5×7 space, your bathroom’s small size is actually to your advantage from a cost perspective: You can make gorgeous updates without spending a fortune.
So what does it cost to remodel a 5×7 bathroom? According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to remodel a small bathroom is $6,500, but you can do it for less and you can surely do it for more if you don’t watch your budget. “Always remember, labor costs are about the same,” says Carl Sanders, a general contractor and residential remodeling expert of 24 years who was a construction consultant for HGTV. “The materials are where the budget can get out of hand.”
Real-life 5×7 bathroom remodel: What’d it cost?
We reached out to Stephen Wilson, a residential remodeling contractor in Braselton, Georgia, (50 miles northeast of Atlanta) for 14 years, to get a firsthand 5×7 bathroom remodel cost breakdown.
First, let’s price out what Wilson’s recent remodel theoretically would have cost, if the owners hadn’t taken some of the labor into their own hands. Here are all of the main costs, separated by labor and material costs, line by line:
|5×7 Bathroom Project||Labor||Material (estimate)||Cost|
|Mud Pan shower pan (this is a barrier that waterproofs the shower, and the customer bought own materials)||$600||$75 for a pre-slope base||$675|
|Shower tiling in a standard 3×5 area (customer bought own materials)||$2,000||$60 (for ceramic tiles costing an average $4 per square foot)||$2,060|
|Custom glass sliding shower door||$1,400||(included with labor)||$1,400|
|Niche in shower||$150||(covered with cost of tiles)||$150|
|Tub and shower faucet install only (customer bought own materials)||$300||Tub (30 x 60 x 14): $350
Shower head and faucet: $140
|Tile on the floor (install only)||$600||$112 (assuming 28 square feet of floor tile at $4 per square foot)||$712|
|Baseboard shoe molding||$75||(included with labor)||$75|
|Vanity||$300||$500 (for premade 24-inch vanity)||$800|
With new floors, a new vanity, a new tub (essentially the works) and fairly middle-of-the-road or affordable material selections, this 5×7 bathroom remodel cost about $7,300. However, the owner in this case installed a new vanity and top ($300 in labor), sink faucet ($165 in labor), and toilet ($160 in labor) themselves to keep costs down — shaving $625 off their estimated spend for a reduced total of $6,722.
Because Wilson’s customers also bought many of the needed materials beforehand, they only paid Wilson a total of $5,125 and gained flexibility in how much they wanted to invest in floor and shower tiles, as well as their vanity and plumbing fixtures.
What’s the deal with 5×7 bathrooms?
To understand how best to go about allocating your budget for a 5×7 bathroom remodel, it’s important to understand the main concern your buyers may have with the existing layout. And yup, you guessed it — it’s space. These bathrooms feel small.
In their original state, there’s typically a standard single vanity, toilet, and tub. “It’s very tight,” explains Robyn Burdett, an agent in Fairfax County, Virginia. With 32 years of experience, she’s no stranger to stumbling across the 5×7 master bathroom in older colonial homes that are common in her area. “You’ll go in and you’ll find a decent size hall bath but the master bath is 5×7,” she says. “It’s like, what’s wrong with this picture?”
As she explains, in previous decades, a different attitude toward master bathrooms reigned. “They were more concerned about room size than they were about the bathroom,” she says. The hall bath was meant to serve more people, so that’s where builders tried to allocate space. For plumbing reasons, both bathrooms typically backed up to each other. So walls were drawn to favor the hall bath as well as closet and room size, leaving only a smidge of that square footage for the master bathroom.
However, just because these bathrooms are small, doesn’t mean they have to feel small. And you don’t have to embark on major layout changes to upgrade your 5×7 bathroom from a red flag to a selling point.
Breaking down the potential costs
Here are the features that can impact your remodeling costs.
Floors: HomeAdvisor puts the average cost for tile and install in a small bathroom at $450-500. Wilson suggests luxury vinyl plank to save money. It can take that price down to around $250. “Labor is the most costly part of [tile],” he says. Along with choosing a reasonably priced tile alternative, stay away from fancy, custom designs that will impact labor cost.
Vanity/sink/countertop: A single vanity unit with the sink and countertop included will cost you about $800 with install according to Wilson. You can purchase a decent unit for about $500 to $600. A double vanity can put you closer to or over $1,000.
Sink faucet: This can run you about $150 for a middle-of-the-road product. Add the plumber’s cost to install sink lines and new P traps for about $160 (it can range from $50 to $161 according to data from Porch). Plan for about $300 out the door, depending on the exact materials you purchase.
Shower Fixtures: Expect to spend $100-$200 on a decent shower head and faucet combo. You can opt for a handheld shower head (nice for cleaning and days when you don’t need to wash your hair), rainfall shower heads, and water-saving varieties. Note that certain shower heads will be built for better water pressure (the large ones look nice but spread the water out over a greater area). Add $300 for labor.
Bath accessories: For your towel bar, hand towel holder, and toilet paper holder, plan for a couple hundred dollars including materials and labor. You can keep it under $100 by purchasing a set online and installing it yourself. Make sure you attach them to the studs and upgrade your anchors. “The ones that come with them are plastic, and they don’t really work that well,” warns Wilson.
Toilet: You can find an affordable toilet for $100 and a slightly nicer one for around $300 or $400. “Typically I would say plan on about $200 to buy one, and then an additional $100 for installation,” says Wilson.
Shower and tub: This is where dollar signs have the potential to add up — adding a new shower or bathtub. While you can get an affordable built fiberglass unit for $300 to $500 (about $800 installed according to Wilson), you could also splurge on a custom shower. “We’ll do a tile shower with a niche and a bench seat on there that’ll run about $3,000 to $3,500,” he says.
Plumbing and layout changes: Moving plumbing around can also drastically increase your bill. Wilson estimates this can average around $1,800 to $2,000. This covers things like what it costs to turn the tub into a shower or swap a jacuzzi tub for a more aesthetic freestanding tub.
What’s the cheapest way to complete this project?
We already mentioned using luxury vinyl plank floors, purchasing middle-range products, and installing your own hardware fixtures. But luckily, there are more ways to save money on your bathroom remodel. For starters, you can do your own demo. The demolition company Hometown Demolition estimates that — on the low end — demoing your bathroom can cost anywhere from $350 to $910 to hire out.
Another way to save money: Consider keeping the original bathtub if it’s still there. “We see yellow, blue, green and pink tubs all the time,” says Burdett. And instead of replacing them (they’re sturdy cast iron tubs so it gets expensive), they reglaze. It costs her $395 to $450, which is on par with the national average of $460.
Most importantly, use common sense. Don’t gut the entire bathroom if you don’t need to. If the tile is in good shape, leave it. If the tub looks good, don’t rip it out for a custom shower. Burdett recalls a recent project where the tub was white and tile was in good shape around the wall. However, the floor was showing age. They simply retiled the floor and bought a new vanity. “The whole thing looked brand new,” she says.
Can you do this project for under $5,000?
You can, but be careful not to cheap out too much. “If you do it cheaply, and it looks like it, then you might as well not have done it,” says Burdett. Doing an affordable remodel that is well done, however, is another story. And it’s not a pipe dream.
It helps to shop for your own materials. “I like to let my customer pick out exactly what they want, and then I give them an install price,” says Wilson. This gives you more control over what you spend, putting most of your budget toward labor costs.
This is a strategy Burdett knows well. “We shop the sales, we look for everything.” And it pays off. When helping sellers spruce up an outdated 5×7 bathroom, she says for $3,500 to $5,000 they replace old vinyl floors and wall tile and add a new vanity, toilet, mirrors, and lights. Whereas some contractors might bid $10,000 to 12,000 to do this type of remodel start to finish.
Your remodel costs depend a lot on your materials, so keep it simple. “Changing the vanity out, putting in a mirror with new lights and hardware — that type of stuff makes a big difference,” she says. Price tag for a project like that? Under $1,500 in her experience. Glaze the tub, replace the vanity and toilet, and install new fixtures. Done and done.
Tips for remodeling your 5×7 bathroom
Here are some other tips to keep in mind as you embark on your bathroom remodel.
1. Choose a vanity that prioritizes storage.
These bathrooms are small so adding functionality is key. You can find some models with a drawer on the bottom and two doors above. “It’s a very cool way to maximize use of space,” says Sanders. If you opt for pedestal sinks to make the room feel bigger, you sacrifice storage. So ask yourself, if you were the buyer, what would you prefer?
2. Neutralize the color palette.
“The minimum of what has to happen is trying to neutralize at least the walls and tile,” says Burdett. She recommends what she calls greige. Rockport gray by Benjamin Moore is one option. If the buyer really likes gray, it will speak to them. If they really like beige, it has beige in it, too.
3. Consider ditching the bathtub/shower combo for a statement shower.
If your budget allows, creating a standout, spacious shower can make buyers overlook the overall size of the bathroom. “It does sell houses,” says Burdett. But what about the bathtub? In her experience, not having one in the primary bath typically won’t deter buyers as long as you have a bath tub somewhere in the house.
4. Don’t choose a small tile.
While you may naturally gravitate toward small tiles for a small bathroom, think twice. “Smaller tile makes it feel more chopped up and makes it feel smaller,” says Burdett. Whereas larger tile can make the room feel longer than it really is. She always opts for 12×24 tile to create the feeling of expansiveness in the small space. You can go even larger with 14×25 tile as well.
So, are you ready to get remodeling? As long as you’re smart about choosing products as well as working with the existing layout and any features that are already in good shape, you won’t blow your budget. While you may not be able to gut the entire bathroom, you can give it a fresh look. According to Burdett, that’s the key vision no matter the bathroom size: Clean, inviting, updated.
Header Image Source: (Prateek Katyal / Unsplash)