The ten things you need to know about bathroom renovations
This is a column I wrote for the Your Home & Garden magazine. You can view it here.
Consider these 10 helpful tips before making any big changes to your bathroom
1. Reuse the plumbing
If your budget’s tight, do your best to reuse the existing plumbing locations. Try not to move the toilet or shower as this can be a costly exercise by the time the water supply and wastewater pipework is repositioned and extended as needed. This means keeping the bathroom layout the same, and refreshing it with new finishes, fixtures and fittings instead. If your budget allows it though, definitely reconfigure the plumbing to improve the layout.
2. Limit the tiling
If you don’t have a huge tiling budget, consider laying a feature tile on one area and either plain white porcelain tiles to the rest of the walls, which can be part or full height, or a paint or plaster finish instead. That way you’re still getting a bit of wow out of the space without breaking the bank. Alternatively, opt for a large tile – think 60cm x 60cm – the larger it is, the quicker, easier and cheaper it is to install as there are less cuts and less grout to contend with. The only exception is in the shower, in which case you’ll benefit from choosing a strip drain or acrylic base for ease of fall (the way the water drains away).
Be mindful of in-wall cistern toilets if you’re thinking of tiling the area. If there’s a maintenance issue and the cistern needs to be accessed, then you’ll likely need to cut through the tiles to do so – unless the toilet is positioned on an interior wall and you can access it from the other side of the wall. The advantage of an in-wall cistern and tiled wall combo however, is that the wall is a lot easier to clean than a painted wall finish.
3. Consistency is key
Choose tapware, fixtures, hardware and accessories from the same range so that the style, colour and shape will be seamless. If that’s not possible, then aim for the same colour and finish at the very least.
Try to choose your vanity, basin and tapware together. The depth of your vanity will determine the basin location (usually centred) and where the basin is placed will determine the distance between tapware and pop-up basin waste. As a rule of thumb, aim for the end of the tap to sit exactly over the sink waste, otherwise you’ll end up with water pooling behind the basin or at the base of the tap; and toothpaste and other grime drying on the pop-up waste.
4. Consider function
Opt for a hybrid bath to get the best of both options so you can enjoy an aesthetic front but placed against the wall for easy cleaning.
Build in some storage for toiletries, or a candle and wine glass. This could be a tiled wall niche or a part-height wall that sits back against the main bathroom wall, providing a ledge for whatever you need to store there.
Built-in baths also offer an opportunity to integrate a cupboard into the framing for concealing bath toys from view when not in use.
5. Is it easy to clean?
When designing spaces ask yourself, “Will it be easy to clean?” Think about how you’re going to get behind the bath to clean it and what happens when the surface-mounted basin has an awkward hard-to-reach base that will attract mould and mildew. Bathrooms are wet areas and you need to be able to reach every nook and cranny for effective cleaning. This is when integrated or hybrid baths and undermount basins come in handy.
6. Cabinetry selection
Whether you’re having bespoke vanity and tower units made, or purchasing off-the-shelf, consider positioning power outlets inside them to avoid having to store things such as an electric toothbrush on top of the vanity. Save the visible spaces for indoor plants, nice soaps and candles.
7. Think ahead
If you plan to sell in the future (that’s anywhere from five years on) think about the future target market and bear them in mind when designing. For instance, I wouldn’t remove the bath from a four-bedroom home as there’s a good chance your home will be purchased by a family with young children when you come to sell.
8. Down-spec where possible
Not every bathroom in the house needs to match or be at the same high level of spec. If you have a small bathroom or second toilet off the laundry, you could make do with painted walls to free up funds for a feature tile in your ensuite.
9. Budget for decor
Don’t forget to budget for the extras, such as new towels, plants, soap and candles to put the finishing touches to the room. Old, mismatched towels look out of place in a beautifully renovated bathroom.
10. Keep it compliant
Know what does and doesn’t trigger a building consent. For instance, installing a second toilet or wet room-style walk-in shower needs consent. Always make sure you obtain compliance documentation as well, this includes a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) from your electrician, and a Producer Statement (PS3) from your plumber, water proofer and tiler.
Do you have plans to renovate your bathroom or laundry?
From toilet types and tapware to all the services you need to consider such as water, waste and power, my ebook: The Complete Guide to Bathroom and Laundry giving you all the information you need to create a bathroom and laundry you’ll truly love. I’ve included my top insider tips including floor plan examples, save versus splurge options and the design and build process.