Today my main bathroom is being completely gutted. Over the course of the next week, it will be transformed from a very dilapidated and dated original 1961 bathroom into something I'm actually not embarrassed to have a guest see.
I know that right now most people are pulling in their horns financially and building projects are few and far between. We did think hard before committing to the project. Our reasoning went something like this:
1. We've been planning and saving for this project for a long time, and unless something major is encountered, we should be able to complete it for cash.
2. It's not frivolous. That bathroom was truly in bad condition, with sinks and a tub that were so pitted they could not be kept clean, a water-inefficient toilet, a vanity cabinet with the veneer peeling off, medicine cabinets that wouldn't shut all the way, and an old Formica counter top that had been scrubbed so many times the finish was completely worn off. And don't even get me started on the dated colors, etc. I really don't think our home would sell at all without redoing it. We aren't planning to sell, but it's always wise to keep a house, which for most people is a one of their largest assets, in marketable condition.
3. We can keep two terrific remodelers in work, add some sales tax into our local coffers, and help keep our lumber yard, hardware store, and housewares store in business.
4. If we do our research, we could make this room more energy and water-use efficient, as well. For instance, it's a windowless room in the middle of our upstairs. My research led me to plan the instalation of a Solatube sky-light, which will bring daylight in, reducing the need for electric lighting in both the bathroom and, when the door is open, the hallway. We are also getting one of the most water-efficient toilets available (which I found on sale at a bargain-basement price!), as well as a more efficient showerhead and faucets. Even the exhaust fan will be more efficient and much more quiet.
We are also trying to send as little to the landfill as possible. We are reusing the two mirrors- they are really good ones, and new high quality mirrors are expensive. We simply removed them from the front of the old medicine cabinets, and will remount them with a frame around them. The current faucets will be used by a local mission that refurbishes substandard housing because they are only about five years old and in great condition (but won't fit in the pre-drilled holes in the new counter top). All metal items will be taken to a scrap metal yard to be recycled, and we may even get a few bucks for our trouble. All plastic will go into the recycling bin. The old shower curtain will become a drop cloth for painting. The faded old towels will be given to the homeless shelter for the men to use when they shower.
I plan to post on this project again as it finishes, to let you know how these sustainable changes go. Hopefully, I can give you a good idea that you might be able to use if you are undertaking a project like this yourself. I might even get brave enough to post "before and after" photos!