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Getting The Bathroom Right

If you are considering a bathroom makeover there are simple steps that will help you avoid the chaos, writes The Block’s Caleb Pearson.

By: Caleb Pearson

1 November 2022

If you have watched a season of The Block, you would have seen the chaos that takes place during bathroom renovation week.

How can the makeover of one of the smallest rooms in a house be so chaotic? The big factor is there are many tradespeople involved in this one small room, and the steps to renovate are mostly sequential: one trade must finish their part before the next can start.

In all homes, the bathroom is a highly-valued space as it is used every day by all occupants in the home. However, it’s not a room you want to be back renovating frequently, due to the cost and impact on the property during renovation. If you are considering a bathroom makeover, here are my simple steps to get you started.

There are many considerations to achieve a practical and well-thought-out design. Some makeovers are a simple replacement of fittings, paint and minor improvements – the more affordable option. Other makeovers require larger changes, which may need you to start from scratch, possibly a consent, and require a bigger investment.

A bathroom reno requires careful management of tradies to ensure the job runs smoothly.

ABOVE Don’t cut corners with your preparation.

ABOVE Choose good quality fittings with a warranty. RIGHT Additional storage will always be useful.

SAMPLE LAYOUTS

Start by drawing a plan with detailed measurements and location of existing features, including doors and windows. Lock in locations of bathroomware first: shower, bath, toilet, vanity. If you can keep these where they currently are it’s likely you will save money by reusing existing waste pipes or water feeds and doing less demolition.

SETTLING ON A LAYOUT

Keep in mind who will be living in the house and how the bathroom will impact them. Is a separate toilet going to make life easier? A bath may be an essential for a family, but a level entry shower provides better mobility access. Take, for example, the three layouts (left) each provide a good option. But the right one will be what best fits the needs of your tenants, your budget, and your specific property.

With the layout of the space locked in, consider the following elements in your bathroom design to maximise function and design:

Storage. Bathrooms are high-use spaces and occupants in a house are always competing for bathroom space. Additional storage is always welcome and noticed through a good vanity, wall-mounted shelving, robe hooks, towel rails or a mirror cabinet.

Pick quality fittings. Select products that will last and with a warranty to make sure you aren’t having to replace it anytime soon.

Electrical. Good lighting makes a bathroom much more usable. Allow for functional task lighting and a power outlet near a vanity.

Colour scheme. Whites and light colours are a simple choice as they provide a light and clean look and make small rooms feel larger. Use the right paint for wet areas, which help protect surfaces from mould.

THIS PAGE Protect the space from water damage with adequate shower doors.

OPPOSITE An extra bathroom, toilet or en suite can be a value-add.

Design statement. There are many bathroomware options and styles available and you can introduce a feature or design style.

Extra bathroom. If space in your property and costs allow, an additional toilet, en suite or bathroom can add value to your property. Placing bathrooms adjacent to each other allows tradespeople to share water and waste feeds more cost effectively.

Be aware of local council building regulations and consenting requirements before you start. Discuss with a professional if you are uncertain.

WATER RISKS

As a landlord a bathroom is a higher risk room due to potential water related damages. Water damage can be very costly in a property and often occurs unnoticed behind surfaces. When renovating as a landlord carefully consider during design how you can minimise these risks and ongoing maintenance. Consider the following:

Ventilation. Steam in a bathroom can create mould and damage. Make sure you have a well placed, suitable extractor to expel steam. Consider placing on a timer to ensure it is used when the bathroom is in use.

Avoid overflow. Pick baths and vanities with overflow wastes as a precaution. Add floor wastes if tiling floors. A moulded shower tray with lips provides a waterproof base.

Have adequate shower doors or screens to minimise water splash out in wet areas.

Wall mounted vanities mean panels are off the floor, avoiding water damage on end panels, and a vanity splashback helps keep water away from walls.

GOOD MANAGER

A good bathroom makeover is often the result of good project management. In this small space you may need some or all of the following: plumber, electrician, builder, water-proofer, tiler, plasterer, painter, glass installer. If you don’t have the time or confidence to manage this project yourself consider engaging a
project manager or lead tradesperson to help you manage.

Begin discussions early in the process as your tradies can provide valuable suggestions which can save time and money. And if you have a set budget they can assist you with working out what can be done within your budget. Get producer statements on workmanship so there is accountability if any issues from your contractors
do arise.

A bathroom makeover certainly adds value to your property, its desirability and its occupants. However, while small, it can be an expensive room to makeover. Take time to plan well to get an accurate picture on costs and process before you start. Work with good people and don’t cut corners as in a wet area this often costs more in the long run.

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