Renovation 101: The do’s and don’ts of bathroom renovations

Investors can opt to do a bathroom renovation in order to achieve instant equity and add value to their property. Here are the common do’s and don’ts of renovating the bathroom to add that “wow factor” without breaking the bank:

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  1. Set a budget

    Avoid overcapitalising by setting a realistic budget and considering all possible costs — from demolition works and waste disposal to materials and builders’ fee. Think of ways you can save on certain fixtures without compromising quality.

    For example, you can source fixtures and fitting online for cheaper options or plan a design layout that will minimise the need for tiling upgrades. Mainstream styles and colours also usually come cheaper than the more “creative options” and they add to the timelessness of the room.

    Aside from considering expenses, experts also strongly encourage investors to factor in a contingency plan for when any unexpected costs arise throughout the project. Around 10 to 15 per cent of your original budget is deemed enough cushion.

    Ultimately, you have to consider the value that the renovation will add to your property and ask yourself: “Am I going to make this money back?” If the answer is a quick affirmative, then you’re most likely on the right track.

    Bathroom renovations can be a costly venture. In fact, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) determined in 2016 that the average value of bathroom installations in a renovation across states and territories sits at $17,054. On average, bathroom installations in a renovation cost 10 per cent more than installing a bathroom in a new home.
  2. Follow a timeline

Since renovating a bathroom comes at a high price, it is also important to keep the time spent on the project to a minimum in order to avoid more expenses.

HIA said that the most common bathroom jobs conducted across Australia, including full bathroom replacements, the addition of a second bathroom, functional improvements, repairs and minor updates, are done within an average of 21 to 25 days.

To save time, start with a thorough planning process and determine every step you will take throughout the renovation. This could mean several weeks to a month’s worth of planning, but it will definitely be time well spent. After all, poor planning is one of the most common causes of cost overruns in renovations.



3. Plan the space

Begin the planning process by making a simple mood board or setting up your own Pinterest account for the aesthetic part of your renovation, including tile styles, fixtures themes and unique designs.

As you plan the design, keep in mind the major plumbing lines as well as the location of the toilets, shower and sinks. Home design apps offer visual tools that can aid in your planning, whether you’re looking to recreate the room or just do a minor “face lift”.

In general, there should be at least a 30-inch gap between plumbing fixtures, such as the shower and the sink or the bathtub and the toilet.

Aside from the usual fixtures including the toilet, shower, bathtub and mirrors, make room for vanity and adequate storage as well.

Assess your desired layout of the bathroom in relation to the available space as well as the people who will be using it most. Kids’ bathrooms have different requirements compared to guest bathrooms and the master’s bathroom.

Remember: A good bathroom renovation balances form and function.

Having a clear idea of your “endgame” can help you determine the money and time you will spend on the project.

4. Keep it simple

It could be tempting to follow trends when renovating your bathroom but most experts advise against “unusually creative” designs to avoid extra costs. These fittings are usually more complicated to fix and harder to replace.

Instead, opt for mainstream styles that will contribute to the timelessness of the bathroom. Use accent pieces to make the room unique, like coloured towels, mats, artworks or even lighting accessories.

You may also incorporate modern minimalist designs like smaller tubs and larger bathroom showers, frameless glass shower doors, stone countertops, sustainable recycled-glass tiles and sturdy furniture-like vanities.

Pay attention to surfaces as well and make sure that they are appropriate to the room. Porcelain tiles, enamel-on-steel, granite and quartz are some of the most common options that offer both durability and pleasing aesthetics.

5. Secure high-quality products

Minimising costs does not mean sacrificing quality, especially considering the fact that bathrooms are deemed as one of the most used and, therefore, most important spaces in a home.

Don’t be afraid to splurge a bit on showers, tiles and most of the other fittings that will be used the most. Getting the best-quality products will save you unnecessary repair costs in the future and most of them have lifetime warranties that cover leaks and stains.

On the other hand, you can save on light fixtures, basic finish on faucets as well as the toilet. Luxury toilets may be creating a buzz nowadays, but a basic $250-toilet could function just as well as the $6,500-smart toilet with motion sensors. Energy-efficient products are also recommended to increase your long-term savings.

Experts strongly encouraged investors to opt for products that adhere to the country’s standards. Plumbers are legally prohibited from installing products that are not covered by an Australian Standards WaterMark. Moreover, local products will be easier to fix or replace in the event that they malfunction or break.

When searching for products online, make sure that you see the item in person before committing to a purchase since materials and finishes may appear different on a computer screen.

At the end of the day, your primary goal is to have your bathroom offer years of use with minimal need for extensive repairs.



1. Move walls and pipes, if possible

Building and plumbing works can be the most expensive cost in bathroom renovations, so unless absolutely necessary, experts advise investors to keep walls, toilet, showers and sinks where they are.

Pipes usually need to be changed only if they are poorly connected or really old to save you from burst pipes, leaks, low water pressure and other “home disasters”.

If the current layout does not work for you, engage a trusted plumber and contractor to guide you through the process of relocating plumbing lines so you can minimise expenses as much as possible and avoid costly mistakes.

Instead of relaying a whole new plumbing network, you may opt to just rework the water pipes to suit your new fixtures — a more cost-effective way of remodeling your bathroom.

2. Push the limits on regulations

There are certain rules on renovations that you will need to adhere to depending on the location of your home.

For instance, in terms of waterproofing, Australian Standards states that shower floors and walls that stand from 1,800mm and up should be waterproofed. Other parts of the bathroom may also need waterproofing depending on the type of floor you have.

DIY renovation may also be subject to different rules, particularly in terms of home insurance policies.

Take time to review the regulations that apply to your home and engage the right professionals to avoid wasting time, money and effort.

3. Forego contractors and other professionals

While doing the renovation yourself may save you money, it may also lead to issues in the future if you fail to do the work right.

Assess your skill set before deciding on a DIY bathroom renovation. Can you actually do plumbing, tiling, general contracting and other processes necessary to complete the renovation project?

Experts advise investors to seek professional help when it comes to the complicated installations since even the smallest mistakes can be costly.

Engage a trusted contractor with an updated license and insurance to manage operations, then seek highly-skilled plumbers, electricians, tile setters, cabinet installers and other professionals with a specific skill set as needed.

Aside from helping you with renovation works, these professionals can also help you find the most cost-effective ways to achieve your “bathroom goals”.

However, it is important to remember that the lowest bidder does not automatically equate to the best worker. Shop around and find the best professionals to turn your vision into a reality.


The information has been sourced from, Domain, InsideOut and the Smart Property Investment website.

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