A beginner’s guide to bathrooms

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By Jason Burgess

Whether you are designing a luxury bathhouse or a simple wet area, a well-planned bathroom makeover should never end up looking like an architectural afterthought.

The bathroom is one of the highest traffic areas in any home.  It is one of the most expensive yet least changed rooms in the house to remodel, so money well spent today will mean savings in the long term. Attractive and robust bathrooms should comfortably endure changes in style and the rigours of family life for years to come.

Where to begin?

First, find the design style that inspires you. This will be useful for keeping sales and tradespeople on track. But don’t get too lost dreaming about candlelit bubble baths just yet as there are a few factors to consider before the old walls come down.

Ask yourself:

  • How much space is there? Not every house has the room to unleash grander designs (bathrooms are usually the smallest rooms in older homes,) the good news is, downsized bathrooms are on trend. Carefully measure the area and then the dimensions of desired bathroom fixtures.
  • Are the locations staying the same?
  • Shower or bath or both?
  • How is the room shaped? More unusual layouts will affect the organizing and positioning of the various elements, right down to the pipes, and electrical wiring.
  • How much storage is required? Is there room for toiletries, towels and bathroom supplies?
  • Is there someone in the family with special needs? They may need an all-one-wet room free of clutter, with overhead shower, hand rails, specific fixture heights and extra space.
  • What features are most important? Make a list of the must have’s and what goes.

Are bathroom renovations affordable?

A quality bathroom is achievable on a restricted budget. Particularly when existing layout and plumbing locations are re-employed. A flexi-hand shower over the bath with a printed shower curtain can add a touch of style with the minimum of cost and effort. For a more complete look, shop around for off-the-shelf bathroom packages at DIY centres. Changing out door handles, drawer pulls and the hardware on shower doors or the shower doors themselves can dramatically change the look of a room. So too will a new vanity. Opt for a paint finish on the walls and vinyl on the floors. “Ask yourself,” says, Refresh Renovation Specialist Mark Morrison, “Do you really want a tiled bathroom. It can be pulled off but the budget usually takes a hit.” Be careful with tile choices as some styles date quickly.

Natural light

While natural ventilation and daylight are desirable, a three-in-one light, fan and heater offer a cost-effective solution to dealing with damp in a small to medium size space.

Fixtures and fittings

When it comes to higher-end aspects like shower areas, keep the design and colours neutral. This will make things a lot cheaper and easier should you choose to update as trends change. It will also ensure a broader appeal when selling a home. Use accessories such as mirrors, towels and floor coverings to infuse the room with your personality. Showers are often what sells the bathroom, go for some WOW factor, make them a feature.

Wet areas

For level-entry, walk-in showers, a building consent is needed to ensure water tightness above, below and behind the shower surface and surrounding floors and walls. If the taps drizzle rather than run convert to mains pressure. Get the water pressure sorted before choosing the tapware. The price of a mains pressure install will depend on whether existing straps and plumbing are used on and how much building work is needed to house the system, all up, allow $3000-$4000. Correct installation and sealing of all bathroom elements are critical to the integrity of the room; don’t take short cuts where water is involved, it could cost you dearly, later.

The bottom line

Remodelling even the most basic bathroom can turn into a complex job, particularly if there are changes to windows, doors, lighting and plumbing locations.  Bathroom renovations are also prone to unforeseen issues. Long term leaks, rotting timbers, redundant pipework and the discovery of asbestos are some of the most common hidden issues in bathroom demolitions.

“If you are keeping the fixtures in the same place and not using tiles,” says Mark, “a bathroom could cost around fifteen thousand. That would be the absolute minimum. But on average it would probably be around thirty-five thousand.” Allow a contingency budget of up to 20% to cover any unanticipated costs lurking behind the walls. An average bathroom may take around three weeks to complete all the building, plumbing and electrical work. If possible find temporary or alternate bathroom facilities for the duration, it will help keep the job on track.

Contact Refresh

To find out how to achieve your dream bathroom contact a Refresh Renovation Specialist today

How much will my bathroom renovation cost?

To find out more about the costs involved, check out our basic, mid-range and high-end bathroom renovation cost estimates

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