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Small Spaces, Big Challenges

Small Spaces, Big Challenges

In the second part of a bathroom renovation series, Caleb and Alice Pearson, of Pearson + Projects, suggest ways to avoid being showered in disappointment.

By: Caleb Pearson

13 June 2024

If you’re thinking about a bathroom renovation, take a step back before you rush in removing that sink. These small spaces can be filled with challenges, so taking time to understand, prepare and make decisions before you start will help your bathroom project run smoother.

Here are some of our essentials when we’re getting ready for a bathroom project.

1. A Solid Plan

Making decisions on the go won’t cut it when you’re renovating a bathroom, unless you have a whole lot of spare time and money. Bathrooms require considered planning and decision-making in advance. In a bathroom, with the sequential nature of trades and requirement to install fittings and services behind walls, changes can be costly.

A consent may also be required, depending on the project, so it is essential to understand the need for this, the professionals needed to prepare and comply with a consent, and timeframes..

Top tip:

  • Know what trades you need involved and the sequence needed to complete the work. Confirm their availability and have tradies booked in with their scope and costs agreed.
  • To avoid lead time delays, have your bathroomware and fittings ordered and available to install when you start.
Our bathroom renovation for #originalrenoredo project featured a small bathroom in a four-bedroom house. Bathroom fixtures and furniture came from Roberston Bathware, flooring by Active Floor Sanders, and tiles from Tile Depot.

2. Details Matter

Take time to think through the details of how you want your bathroom to function and look, then work backwards to make sure you plan for this. Where do you want your shower mixers and tapware fitted? Where is nogging needed for fixings for a glass shower door.

The importance of planning in a bathroom is emphasised by services installed behind the wall linings as an early step. This locks in the location of your toilet, shower and heated towel rail at the start of the project before it takes shape.

No detail is too small in a bathroom, and millimetres count. As an example, when tiling bathrooms, consider where the grout lines will be positioned in the room. If you have different sized floor and wall tiles, are you able to line up grout lines for a cleaner look.

Top tip:

  • Sketch up a floor plan and elevations on a dimensioned plan.
  • Work out what you need behind the walls to achieve the look you want in front of the walls, including bathroomware, power and nogging.
  • If you’re tiling, detail the tile set out for your space.
  • Take a photo record before you line your walls so you can check back on what’s behind them.
This is our latest bathroom renovation for #theparentalpad project. This is a small bathroom for a two-bedroom minor dwelling. Bathroom fixtures and furniture from Roberston Bathware and tiles from Tile Depot.

3. The Budget

Bathroom renovations are expensive. They require a lot of trades and a lot of product, and there is a wide variety of quality. A bathroom renovation could cost $5,000 to $50,000-plus. For an investment property, you will want to manage your costs carefully, so getting quotes and setting a budget before you start is important. Have a clear picture of what you’re in for, with budget as well as time.

Top tip:

  • A key to sticking to your budget and avoiding delays is to minimise changes. The best way of doing this is to have a clear and detailed plan, which your contractors have quoted for.
This bathroom renovation for the #relocatablereno project featured a custom-made vanity designed by Alice, with a concrete top. There was a shower over the bath to maximise function for this house.

4. Wet Areas

The bathroom is unique because it’s a “wet area” – whether it’s steam from showers, the splash zone around a bath, or pipes and connections behind the walls. If not constructed and dealt with properly, water and steam can cause major long-term damage. It’s not worth cutting corners, so make sure you deal with water tightness and ventilation properly to keep your tenants and property healthy.

Within and around showers, ensure water will not leak into other spaces and there is a watertight surface where walls and floor will get wet or might get splashed. If your tiling, waterproofing behind wet areas will be required as tiles and grout are not waterproof.

Top tip:

  • Extractor fans are compulsory for rental properties. I recommend an abovestandard fan with a timer to deal with moisture efficiently
Bathroom renovation for our #diamondinrichmond project. We did the minor building work, lining walls and painted, but left all plumbing, electrical and tiling to the professionals.

5. The Experts

A bathroom renovation is one project you will need to engage some trade professionals to help. While I consider myself handy in many tasks, there is a high level of risk when dealing with wet areas and services. We always want to make sure the work is done properly and require someone qualified to certify the work. This includes a plumber, electrician and waterproofer/tiler. Using qualified tradespeople gives you confidence the work has been done correctly.

Given the complexity in a bathroom, often a project manager is engaged to oversee a renovation, with many companies offering this service tailored to bathroom renovations. This is an additional cost, and one you will need to weigh up, but they will use their expertise to guide and manage the process for you.

Top tip:

  • Confirm the qualifications of your tradespeople in advance and agree they will provide guarantees and producer statements where relevant.