Renovation shows such as The Block, House Rules, Selling Houses Australia and Grand Designs command high television ratings in Australia, and while they are generally good television, they are not factual in what goes into the renovation of a house and in particular bathrooms.
Television renovation shows have been correctly described as dazzling high resolution, high fructose renovation eye candy. This is due to the more critical but unfortunately mundane areas of bathroom renovation not being easily translated into making excellent television programming so are at best skimped over and are generally completely ignored.
Every real estate industry expert will confirm a bathroom renovation will improve the value of your home plus improve your lifestyle. A stylish and affordable bathroom renovation is a matter of being methodical in your planning, especially if you are renovating for yourself. Above all, do not be fooled by what you see on television renovation shows as there is a substantial difference between what you see on television show’s and what is really involved. This is often when bathroom renovation regret steps in.
As a rule in homes that are over ten years old, the bathrooms are small rooms compared to homes built in the last few years. This makes older bathrooms more challenging to renovate as they are sophisticated and compact spaces. This can result in compromises having to be made but be very aware that short cuts causing mistakes and defective work in a bathroom can cause significant problems in the future and be very costly to rectify.
After 36 years in business, Whywait Plumbing has undertaken numerous bathroom renovations, and we frequently see bathroom renovation regret creep in halfway through a project. The best advice we can give you is to go slowly whether you are undertaking a full renovation or just a makeover. You must avoid the mistakes we see repeated over and over again, all of which should be reasonably obvious, and that is:
- do your homework thoroughly on what you want to achieve
- plan carefully how you are going to undertake the project
- work with companies that know what they are doing
A bathroom renovation or makeover can be project managed in two ways, both of which require you to do all of the above. Managing the project yourself is simply a matter of being organised and knowing what you want. Hiring a builder to project manage your bathroom still requires that you are organised and understand what you want but saves you the burden of dealing with the specialist trades.
No matter which route you choose, ensure you hire skilled and talented specialist trades as inevitably they will dictate how smoothly the bathroom renovation runs and the quality of the finished product.
One pitfall of using many of the so-called builders to project manage is that they are no longer a tradesman in their own right but have undertaken courses to gain a BSA builders licence. In our experience, the specialist trades they subcontract your bathroom renovation too are not hired because they are the best to undertake the job but are the cheapest companies that the builder can obtain to maximise his profit.
When choosing the specialist trades to undertake your bathroom renovation, you should always:
- check that they have a compliant contractors license
- check that they have public liability insurance of at least $10 million and can supply you with a certificate of currency
- check that they have a WorkCover insurance policy and can provide you with a certificate of currency
- check their references as many of the so-called online references are of dubious quality
- write a specification of the work you wish them to perform so that when you receive the quotes, you are comparing like for like and if getting multiple quotes this is critical so that you are setting benchmarks
- Be cautious about quotes that seem too high or too low because as always the devil is in the fine print or lack thereof
- check before you sign anything to ensure that quotes include all the smallest details and are compliant not only with your specifications but local laws and Australian standards and that it consists of the brands and models of fittings you specified and not a substitute
Despite what you see on television programmes there is a limit to what can be achieved by DIY especially in areas such as plumbing and electrical, which are two of the main specialists you will require in a bathroom renovation. While doing some work for yourself is a wise way to save some money, you also need to understand that many legal restrictions are in place for a good reason. DIY in regulated trades is a recipe for disaster with the possibility of insurance cover being denied if something goes wrong.
No matter what you get told by well-meaning shop assistants in large hardware outlets always use qualified and licensed tradesmen for regulated work such as pest control, electrical work, plumbing work, gasfitting work and waterproofing. Part of your initial planning is to know which aspects of the bathroom renovation must be undertaken by experienced, specialist and licensed trades companies.
The old saying about only getting what you pay for has never been so true, especially when it comes to plumbing products. Buying cheap or non-standard fittings is an easy trap to fall into with the proliferation of outlets selling plumbing materials, accessories, fixtures and even tools. Purchasing the bargain that is frequently an unbranded toilet or tap that looks the same as the one you saw in a shop elsewhere can quickly become the product from hell that will cost you a lot more in the long run.
If you’re buying the fixtures and fittings for the bathroom renovation yourself, always ensure that everything you buy conforms to the relevant Australian Standards. As a rule of thumb be careful about who you buy from online outlets as in our experience many of the products they are selling are brand-name fakes and are claiming to comply with Australian standards when in reality they don’t.
A bathroom renovation is expensive and needs to last for at least ten years so avoid being too trendy or bold because what is exceptionally fashionable now, and you can be sure will unfashionable in 10 years when you want to sell your home.
No matter what avoid a bold colour and design if it is a permanent feature such as the tiles or vanity or a toilet. In the permanent features always aim for a neutral understatement that will last passage of time. Painted walls can be bold and fashionable as long as they can be repainted. Otherwise, bright colours and designs should be left to the removable decorative features that you put in after you have finished renovating the bathroom.
No matter what, you need to make sure you know exactly what you want before beginning your bathroom renovation, within reason. Once you have planned your bathroom commit to it because it will cost you a fortune if you change your mind once work begins. Changing your mind on the size of a bath or shower can cost a small fortune in moving walls and pipes.
It’s not that hard to turn your bathroom into an oasis of peace and tranquillity without breaking the bank as long as you plan and are organised. Just remember your bathroom renovation is not a television programme.