I want to level set expectations with my wife for a small bathroom renovation i want to tackle on my own.

considering all the materials and fixtures will be pre-purchased and sitting in the garage prior to start. how long should a single man renovation take?

here is my thinking, let me know if i am off my rocker on any of these estimates.

.25 days remove double vanity, medicine mirror cabinet, toilet and tub
0.5 days demo walls (tile and Sheetrock)
.25 days deliver to the dump (2 trips)
.25 days put in 2 new spot lights in pre-existing ceiling
.25 days expand electrical to include new switch for spot lights
.25 days replace ventilation fan
0.5 days close walls with concrete board
0.5 days install new bath tub and connect drain
1.5 days tile walls
0.5 days tile floor and doorway saddle
.25 days install new toilet in same spot
.25 days install new double vanity and 2 new faucets
.25 days install finishing touches and clean up

am i too optimistic on the duration of these tasks?

  • 3
    It depends, will your wife be standing by with a cattle prod to keep you from taking breaks?
    – Doresoom
    Apr 26, 2011 at 16:23
  • 7
    Take your optimistic numbers and double them for something realistic. Then double them again for the number you tell others. This way it will look like you actually planned for things to go wrong. Also, make sure you factor in the time for things to dry, like grout.
    – BMitch
    Apr 26, 2011 at 18:26
  • 1
    The 1-2-3 books from Home Depot show time estimates based on skill level; might be worth taking a look when you're buying all the materials for your job.
    – Niall C.
    Apr 26, 2011 at 20:00

4 Answers 4


My rule of thumb.. is do the math you have done

x2 for the money it will cost x4 for the time it will take

And amazingly, it's almost right, when you do the match AT THE END

life is a bitch ! :-)


I don't think we can judge your estimates via the internet. Some info we don't have.

  • your skill level. The time it takes to do a job seems to vary about 8x from novice to expert. Since you're asking this question, you're probably on the slow end of the scale.

  • tools. Having the right tools makes the job go faster and produces better results, but buying a full complement of tools may not be a good idea. Stopping the work for a tool shopping trip is a big delay (or the best part!)

  • your time and energy. If a pro works 8hrs/day but you only work a couple hours in the evening, it will take you way longer. If you decide to work 12hrs/day but get tired, then you'll need to factor in rest time. If something else in. Your life comes up, your project may sit idle for a while.

I've found that diy projects don't save me money or time, unless they are very small. I do them because I enjoy it, and like knowing I shaped my home.

  • I've found that even if I need to purchase some tools I might only use once, diy saves tons of money in labor costs.
    – Vitaliy
    Apr 26, 2011 at 20:23
  • @Vitaliy - true, but you've also got to factor in the time it takes you to realise you need the tool, get cleaned up enough to go to the store, find the tool, buy it and get back.
    – ChrisF
    Apr 26, 2011 at 21:01
  • love your reply unfortunately can only give one +. lmao Apr 26, 2011 at 23:27

I'm sorry guys, this one is too good to pass up. Hate to be the pro in the room, but, my contractor hat is spinning. I have to ask kacalapy few questions before I can even breath again. My first question is, have you ever gutted and rebuilt a bathroom? Do you have competent electrical, plumbing, drywall, carpentry, tiling, flooring experience skills? Do you have a truck full of specialized tools and the experience and knowledge to use them? Not to be absolutely negative, it is really important to know your level of expertize.

One thing I have learned over the years is to expect the unexpected. nothing in a renovation ever, and I mean ever go smoothly. Tolerances are never right, things don't fit. electrical feeds are old or not where you need them, drains don't line up, rot is found, framing for new tubs and surrounds always has to be done, mortar bases installed, vapor barriers installed, closet flanges replaced, damn, a rotted floor section to be fixed, old valves replaced, mixing valves won't solder with a propane torch, Opps, I got a leak!!! Darn I have to build a ceiling joist box and a soffit vent. How do I rock to the nail flange? Seal the floor? Fortified grout? You mean I have to drill my own holes in this brand new surround? Hammer arresters? What's plumber putty, where? need I say more?????

I always figure a full week, a master plumber and a lot of aggravation, but that is what I do for a living. I absolutely love the DIY books and shows. A bath is done in a one hour show with no problems, and the books show the basic steps, but they don't show the tricks of the trade. Taking on a complete bath rebuild in a very big job. If you don't do it right the first time, it will cost you so much to fix it up after. Get a pro to help you if you don't have the expertise. There are so many pitfalls that will stop you dead in your tracks. You need to know exactly what you got to start with and plan to adapt the new to the old.

I wish you good luck, but never trust a book or TV show. Trust a pro!! Watch a couple of episodes of Holmes on Homes to see what a bad job can mean. He is my mentor and hero!

  • 1
    What's the best way to get help from a pro on a DIY project? Would a working contractor be interested in getting paid for a couple of hours of planning & review time when he's bidding on similar project for other clients? Or are there "official" consultants we DIYers should be calling when things get beyond our skill level? Apr 27, 2011 at 3:16
  • yes i have tools for electrical work, plumbing, tile work. in the past, i have wired an ocean of spot lights on several withes, replaced drains, tiled a bath including ceiling. i know its not like on tv. but really for a small bathroom where nothing is moving how long should tasks take? i am sure in by the end of the first day i will have the room down to studs. then just follow the posted plan...
    – kacalapy
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:39
  • Also, to tile the floor with 20 squares, even if it takes 30 minutes for a single tile I will finish ion 10 hours.
    – kacalapy
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:42

In theory: a week.

In reality: well, it took me about 3 months.

  • 6
    In theory a week means 2 weeks to get it 95% done - then about 10years for the last bit.
    – mgb
    Apr 26, 2011 at 23:50

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