How to save money on bathroom renovations

Bathroom renovations are one of the most common strategies implemented by investors who want to achieve instant equity and ultimately add value to their property. How do you do a successful renovation without overcapitalising?

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According to the Housing Industry Association, among the most common bathroom jobs conducted across Australia are full bathroom replacements, addition of a second bathroom, functional improvements, repairs and minor updates done within an average of 21 to 25 days.

The average value of bathroom installations in a renovation across the country in 2016 is at $17,054. In terms of states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest average at $21,000 while South Australia recorded the lowest average at $1,500.

On average, bathroom renovations are 10 per cent more costly than installing a bathroom in a new home.

Due to market movements, changing economic conditions and financial environment, renovation expenditure have consistently gone up in the past years. In 2017/18, the average expenses on renovations are predicted to increase by at least 2.0 per cent, then by 2.7 per cent more in 2018/19.


Homeowners nowadays view the bathroom as a place of luxury and relaxation, which is why investors aim to strike the perfect balance among practicality, functionality and aesthetics while ultimately improving the overall home value.

While the expectations for an ideal bathroom has gone up, investors can still make a great impression—adding both value and style to their properties—without breaking the bank.

Propertybuyer’s Rich Harvey said: “For each dollar you spend on your renovation, your goal should be to add at least twice the value in equity.”

Preparing for renovation

In order to make the most out of your bathroom renovation and ultimately enjoy the benefits of the added value, experts strongly advise investors to stick to a budget and a timeframe and make sure that the renovation meets the market’s demand.

Ask yourself the following questions before jumping in on a project:

  • Do I need to rebuild or focus cosmetic renovation?
  • Do I need a whole new toilet or just a simple seat replacement?
  • Is my colour scheme timeless, bright and clean?
  • Is the shower easily accessible for all, even people with limited mobility?
  • Is there enough storage space?

Seek professional help, where appropriate, to ensure that all plumbing, waterproofing and electrical work meet Australian standards.

Having a team of experts can also help you ensure that the design you implement actually meets the needs of your target audience while adding value to your home.

“A fully qualified bathroom renovation team will be able to use their industry contacts to give you the best and most affordable pricing without compromising on quality, function and appeal,” according to Crystal Bathrooms.

Doing the bathroom renovation by yourself could save you some dollars, but leaving it to the professionals will help you achieve a high-quality output without breaking the bank and ultimately avoid any unnecessary expenses in the future due to unforeseen issues and unexpected damages.

Minimising costs

Budget-friendly bathroom renovations start with getting the layout right. Do research and engage trusted tradesmen to perfect this first step.

According to Renovating for Profit’s Cherie Barber, poor layouting practically botches an entire renovation project. “No amount of cosmetic refresh is going to do them any good,” she said.

Ensuring proper layout for your bathroom may cost quite a lot since it could mean changing the plumbing or doing other major alterations, but as it is deemed the most important part of renovations, it will be money well-spent.

Once you’ve got the right layout, it’s only a matter of looking for ways to save money.

Ms Barber said: “Tile paint the existing tiles if they're structurally in good condition. Hunt around for your fixtures and fittings. Source fixtures and fittings on online sites.”

“There are so many ways that you can snag yourself a bargain to make sure that your renovation comes in under budget,” she highlighted.

Lighting fixtures and basins are usually worth splurging on since they are considered the focal points of the bathroom. They can set the mood on the space and even create illusions to make it seem smaller or larger.

Basins may cost around $250 to $500 but you can source fixtures and fittings online for cheaper options. Just be sure that you’re actually getting high-quality materials to avoid high repair costs in the future.

Meanwhile, good-quality candelabras and suspended options with spotlights are usually available for as low as $25 to $50.

On the other hand, investors can save on tiling upgrades depending on the overall arrangement of the bathroom. You can easily minimise the total size of the area you need to cover by factoring in the presence of mirrors, basins, showers and toilets.

Tiles may go for around $30 to $100 per square metre and labor can cost you around $120. Tiling options include white tiles, marble, granite, travertine or limestone—stone materials usually cost more than the more common options like white tiles.

Other additional bathroom features that may add value to your home without costing a fortune are towel warmers, vanities, tap fixtures, glass shower enclosures and new toilet seats.

To save more, consider the following tips:

  • Consider factory seconds or near-new second-hand items.
  • Consider less-known or even no-name brands of appliances. ‘Badges’ are usually unimportant for minor renovations.
  • Seek discounted designer products instead of buying for the full price.
  • Even if you’re working on a low budget, do not settle for substandard finishes. Chances are, your potential tenants or buyers can tell
  • the difference between high-quality and low-quality fixture.
  • Choose builders and tradespeople wisely.
  • Stick to overall renovation plan—from budget to timeframe.

At the end of the day, whether you spend $10,000 or $30,000 on your renovation, the goal is to create a bathroom that strikes a balance between form and function.

Create the ‘wow’ factor without breaking the bank by conducting thorough research, doing due diligence and engaging the right professionals.


The information has been sourced from the Housing Industry Association and the Smart Property Investment website.

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