bathroom renovation

How Do I Plan My Bathroom Renovation Project?

home improvement

There is nothing quite like a clean, sparkling, brand new bathroom. A new bathroom has the ability to change the overall feel of your home and can vastly improve your lifestyle. A new bathroom can also add a lot of value and saleability to your home.

If you are planning a renovation for your bathroom, then you need to make sure you think long-term. The last thing you want is to have to re-do your bathroom again, a few years down the track, right?

Therefore, you need to carefully consider your needs, your lifestyle, and your personal tastes. Plan for a bathroom that can withstand changes in trends, fads and possible lifestyle changes.
It’s natural to think that because the bathroom is one of the smallest rooms in the house that it will be easy, inexpensive and quick to renovate. Well, think again.

You really need to make sure that you avoid the typical rookie errors when it comes to renovating your bathroom/s so you can save yourself both time and money.

The following is a pretty good template for a successful bathroom renovation:

Design

Before you are ready to engage a qualified bathroom designer, do your research on the look and feel you want for your new bathroom. Utilise online platforms such as Pinterest and Houzz to search imagery and create a virtual scrapbook to really flesh out the functional style and visual features you are drawn to. These online scrapbooks will give your designer a very important insight into what your likes & dislikes are and will point them in the right direction for you and your family.

Bathrooms are usually tight spaces and therefore it is crucial to have a well thought out design that best utilises the space available. It’s good for you to have a think about some of the following things, but don’t make any firm decisions until you’ve sought the expertise of a trained bathroom design specialist.

Some important things to consider when planning a bathroom are:

Shower or Bath, or Both? – Do you have enough space for both a shower and a bath? If you don’t, you have to choose what will best suit your lifestyle and your needs, but remember, if you delete the bath from your only bathroom that will affect the resale value of your home?

Not having a bath in your property could limit the number of people who would consider buying your home or negatively impact the sale price you could achieve because people may believe that a costly renovation would need to be undertaken to add a bath back into the home. Every buyer with small children wants and needs a bath.

An all-glass walk-in shower can add a touch of luxury to the bathroom while a vintage claw foot tub could be a beautiful focal point. Where will you place the shower or bath? Whatever you choose to do, location is crucial for a good flow of space.

Sink and Vanity – If you have limited space, be strategic with your placement. If you have a larger space, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to planning your sink and vanity design. Double basins look great but do you really have enough space to accommodate them or would you be best having one basin and more bench space?

Toilet – The location of your toilet is arguably one of the most important considerations of all. Try and avoid your toilet being directly on show when you open the bathroom door and aim for privacy where possible.

Is your bathroom on a timber subfloor with crawl space under the house or are you on a concrete slab? If your bathroom is on a concrete slab it is much more difficult and costly to move major items such as shower wastes and toilet positions. 

Storage Spaces – You don’t want your bathroom to look and feel cramped. Carefully plan your storage and cabinetry location. Maybe you can use wall cavities for storage?

Doors and Windows – Where you place your doors and windows is vital to good lighting and space. Which way do the doors and windows open? As an example, often, just changing a door from a hung door to a Cavity Sliding Door, can dramatically open up space that the door was preventing you from using. Could you move a doorway or window to increase the functionality of the space? If you aren’t getting enough natural light from the existing windows could you/should you, add a skylight?

Could you improve your bathroom by borrowing some space from an adjoining room? Knocking through a wall to steal space from an adjoining room could vastly improve the end result and be well worth the extra cost and effort. Do you currently have a separate toilet and bathroom next to each other and could these two smaller rooms be combined to make one much larger, more practical space? You would be amazed at the benefits that flow from this single minor structural change, which is usually not as expensive as you might think.

Selecting Fixtures & Fittings

It is a good idea early in the process to go online or even better take a trip to a local supplier to get a feel for the sorts of bathroom products in the marketplace and their prices. Don’t go ahead and purchase anything before you’ve reached a finalised design with your chosen designer, just have a look at what your options are, for things such as:

Tapware: basin taps, bath spouts, shower roses and rails. Tapware is no longer just available in chrome. Think about the style you are going for and whether you might consider something different such as weathered brass or matt black. Do you want a bench mounted mixer tap or wall mounted spout over your basin?

Toilets: There are traditional, back-to-wall, wall-hung and space saving in-wall cisterns styles now available. Do you want one with a built-in bidet? Have you seen the latest rimless toilets which are hygienic and easier to clean?

Basins: whether you are after a top mounted, undermounted, semi-recessed, vessel basin or something unique that has a real wow factor there are multitudes of options on offer.

Baths: Freestanding or built in? Not all rooms have the space required for a freestanding tub but they can make a real statement in a bathroom if you can accommodate one. Remember it’s not just about fitting the freestanding bath into the room, you also need to allow for sufficient cleaning space around the tub.

Accessories: Towel rails, toilet roll holders, toilet brushes, soap dispenser etc. Do you want standard or heated towel rails? Think about whether the finishes you’ve chosen for your tapware are also available in matching accessories.

Tiles: Take a look through some tile shops to see what’s trending and what’s available. The huge range of options can become overwhelming but don’t worry your designer will help you narrow down the choices when it comes time to choose and will also help you to keep on track with the design style that suits you and your home.

Budget

Once you’ve got a bit of a feel for what fixtures and fittings cost it is wise to talk to a professional about what else might be involved in a bathroom renovation and what a realistic budget should be.

People usually underestimate the cost of a bathroom renovation because they are such small spaces. However there’s lots of building and trades work involved in a bathroom renovation and that’s where most of your money is spent, especially if it’s done correctly according to the building code, something which unqualified & unregistered “bathroom renovators” don’t do.

To do a bathroom renovation properly and to regulation you need to strip the room right back to the frame and then you need a team of skilled, licensed tradespeople to put it all back together again, including:

  • Builder/Carpenter
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Plasterer
  • Waterproofer
  • Tiler
  • Cabinet Maker
  • Cabinet Installer
  • Caulker
  • Glazier
  • Painter

The tradeswork involved in a bathroom renovation can typically cost anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 depending on the size of the space and the work involved. Then on top of that cost you have your tiles, cabinetry, benchtops, fixtures and fittings. Which puts you somewhere in the region of $30,000-$60,000 overall for a full bathroom renovation.

It is also important when considering your budget to think about how long you are planning to stay in this home? If you are renovating to sell you may want to pare back the renovations to a simple spruce up and just replace tapware and fixtures in their same locations and give the room a fresh coat of paint to deliver more bang for your buck.

When you engage a specialist Interior Design firm such as Let’s Talk Kitchens & Interiors we will design it, build it & project manage it through to completion, at a fixed price. Always keeping in mind that it’s wise to keep a small contingency amount available should there be any unexpected items that arise, such as the discovery of asbestos and its removal or replacement.

The discovery of rotten wall or floor timbers behind the old shower and/or bath, that weren’t revealed until the room was demolished. This is especially important in houses build prior to 2000, which was when “waterproof membranes” became mandatory.

You may want to approach more than one firm to get pricing on your renovations and that’s fine however be aware that if the pricing differs greatly there will always be good reason why, and usually you will discover you are not comparing apples with apples. There are many bathroom renovation firms out there, who are not fully licenced and do not insure your job through the government’s Home Owner Warranty Insurance scheme and don’t ensure your renovations are carried out to comply with regulations. While none of us wants to waste our money, we also have to ensure we aren’t letting price be the major driver.

Choosing the Right Builder

Choosing the company who will execute the renovation work for you is probably the most stressful decision you will make throughout the whole process. You are putting a lot of trust in the people you are asking to pull apart your home and put it back together again. It’s important to engage a company that is honest and ethical, who won’t leave you with a half-finished project or take months on end to complete the work, who will deliver you a room which meets all building regulations and is finished to a very high standard.

Some things to consider and look out for when choosing the right builder are:

They should be a Registered Building Practitioner to carry out any renovation work. Check that they do have an RBP, (Registered Building Practitioner), licence number and confirm the status of their registration online. Both the principal of the company, AND the company itself, must be registered with the VBA, (Victorian Building Authority).

Ask whether they will be insuring your project under the government’s Home Owner Warranty Insurance scheme. It is a legal requirement that all Victorian builders must register any project over $16,000 and take out a Domestic Building Insurance policy on the homeowner’s behalf. This protects you in the event that their building project cannot be completed or has defective works which cannot be rectified because the builder has died, disappeared, become insolvent or failed to comply with a court or tribunal order.

Check out their online reviews on platforms such as Google and Houzz. Do they have positive reviews and a history of completing great work or not? Getting feedback firsthand from previous customers is a good indication of what to expect.

How long have they been in business and trading under the same name and in the same location? A long history of running the same business is a positive sign that they have been doing a good job and won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Are they members of a professional body such as the HIA (Housing Industry of Australia) or KBDi (Kitchen & Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia)? Companies who invest back into their industry through these membership organisations and are committed to ongoing professional development are usually very passionate and dedicated to their profession.

Are they trained, qualified and licensed and are all of their subcontractors who will be working in your home? It’s important to know what qualifies someone to be an expert in their field, yes it’s important to have real life experience but the correct training and qualifications go a long way also. For instance, there are many tilers & plumbers who offer full bathroom renovations at very low prices, however you will rarely achieve a great outcome because they are not qualified to design, build and project manage a full renovation. Their sole focus is to sell tiles or plumbing services and as the old adage goes “You get what you pay for!”

Do they have an onsite Project Manager who will be overseeing the whole process and managing the various tradespeople involved? Having an on-site Project Manager will take a lot of the stress and hassle out of renovating so you don’t have to worry about who is coming and going and whether or not they are clear on what they should be doing. Onsite management can help avoid many costly and time-consuming mistakes from occurring due to poor communication between the design and build team.

Do they have a team of tradespeople that they have worked with consistently over a long period of time? The level of finish in your bathroom will be dependent on the skill and craftsmanship of the tradespeople the firm engages. LTKI only works with tradespeople we know and trust to be at the top of their given field whether that be building, plastering, tiling, painting or whatever, to ensure our high attention to detail is maintained throughout the process.

Most importantly you need to feel comfortable with them. Do they listen to your needs? Do they answer all your questions? Do you feel confident that they will do the right thing by you, if anything goes wrong? Which let’s face it can and sometimes does happen.

Purchase Products ASAP

Once the design and specifications are complete and you’ve placed an order with your chosen builder for the works, go ahead and purchase your selected tiles, tapware and accessories as soon as possible.

This is crucial because products like tiles, lighting fixtures, and toilets are delicate and can break during shipment and delivery which can mean more delays and possibly more money wasted.

If you do not have all the products on hand when you start construction, you can expect delays and extra costs. For instance, the plumber needs the in-wall bodies for all of the tapware in the first few days of the renovation to complete his rough-in therefore it is important to have everything delivered and ready on-site for day one of the project.

Buying all of your fixtures & fittings in advance and having them delivered just before commencement, will also keep you from changing the design concept. This will help you stick to the budget and keep the construction process running smoothly.

During the construction and installation stage, you may have the urge to make changes, but you need to commit to the design. Avoid looking for other options and stick to the plan.

Final Thoughts

When you feel like you have done your due diligence and made a good, solid plan, it is time to officially start the project.

If you are looking for professional builders and designers to help you achieve your dream bathroom, then look no further than Let’s Talk Kitchens & Interiors!