When it comes to bathroom renovations, one of the biggest concerns for homeowners is cost. It’s no secret that these projects can quickly add up, leaving you with a hefty bill and a less-than-ideal outcome. But at Whywait Plumbing, we’re here to tell you that bathroom renovation costs don’t need to blow out of proportion.
First and foremost, you must clearly know what you want before you begin the renovation process. This means deciding on a specific design, layout, and materials. A clear plan will help you stay within budget and avoid costly changes or additions.
Another tip for keeping costs down is to focus on the essentials. While you may be tempted to splurge on fancy features, the basics often make the most significant impact. For example, you can create a beautiful, functional bathroom without breaking the bank by prioritising functional elements such as a new toilet, sink, and shower.
There is no disguising a bathroom in need of renovation
We have prepared a few tips and advice to help you keep costs down and maximise your budget when renovating your bathroom. Increasingly we are observing the simple fact that there is no disguising a bathroom needing renovation. These bathrooms have some or many of the following abominably dated features:
peach or pea green tiles,
failing grouting in floors and walls,
mould damage to the ceiling,
gold plated taps with fake glass handles,
poor use of space,
wallpaper that looks like a ’70s disco freak chose it.
All of the above were standard design traits in bathrooms dating back over 10 years and often 25 years.
For better or worse, bathrooms are a place for people to stamp their creative mark on a home.
Often it was inexplicable to what they were trying to create with bizarre combinations such as black tiled walls and red-painted ceilings.
Bathrooms by their design and use factors are prone to failure over time
Generally, a bathroom needs some form of renovation after around five years, depending on how frequently it is used.
But bathroom renovations do not have to be designer-level expensive affairs.
If you plan and know what you are doing, keeping a lid on bathroom renovation costs is not hard.
Below are listed seven issues to be seriously considered so your bathroom renovation costs do not blow out:
1: Assess how much you need to change
The more you want to change, the more expensive the project will be. That is a guarantee.
If you are on a tight budget, you can still make a surprising difference to the look of a bathroom by just replacing tap handles, painting the walls and ceiling, plus sticking up shampoo shelves, towel rails or a lovely new mirror. All of which you could probably manage, provided you know what you are doing.
Re-tiling of floors and walls will cost a fair bit more. Still, surprisingly economical coating options are applied directly over existing tiles, reducing costs by reducing the amount of demolition work required.
Always be aware that anything involving electrical or plumbing fixtures, relocating fixtures, or adding new ones will cost considerably more.
2: Reuse or recycle fittings and fixtures
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it rule applies. If there is nothing wrong with the existing fittings or fixtures, you can save a lot of money and unnecessary waste by resisting the overwhelming temptation to replace them.
If you think about ways you can style and theme the bathroom to utilise what you already have installed and focus on the worst aspects of your bathroom.
Old-style taps can be replaced relatively economically and efficiently.
If your bath and vanity basin have been seriously abused over the years, it is possible to have them re-coated and to look like new for less than outright replacement.
Vanity unit cupboard doors and draws can be replaced for much less than the outright replacement of the entire vanity.
This may sound obvious, but it requires discipline.
If you have the time and inclination, you will save a small fortune by shopping around and buying the necessary materials, fittings and fixtures.
If you are shopping, make sure you have done your homework and know exactly what you are looking for. For example, there is a considerable difference between wall and floor tiles.
Buying a bath with a centre waste to replace one with a waste at one end will cost you more to install.
Replacing a toilet requires that you know whether it uses an S or P trap outlet or whether the water connection is concealed or bottom linked.
Any paint for bathroom walls needs to be suitable for use in bathrooms so that your walls are resistant to moisture.
If you are supplying the fixtures and fittings, ensure everything is ready and available when renovation starts to prevent delays. Delays in fixtures being available will translate into increased costs.
5: Get your hands dirty
If you are willing and able, you can save a lot on labour costs by doing some of the work yourself and project managing the renovation.
Likely, you will still need to hire licensed contractors such as plumbers, electricians, waterproofers, and tilers for the renovation project. Still, volunteering to do manual work, such as demolition, will translate into lower labour costs.
Without exception, any discussion about what you can do yourself has to include a big, flashing neon warning. You cannot cut corners on some things and do it yourself. Licensed professional contractors MUST do waterproofing, plumbing and electrical work.
Doing it any other way is guaranteed to be illegal, substandard, dangerous, non-insurable and without the protections of a warranty.
Never believe handymen who tell you they can do everything.
It is also essential that you are confident before you start working that there is not any asbestos in your bathroom. Asbestos sheeting was very commonly used in bathrooms up until the late 1970s, and exposure to it can lead to cancer, so you will need to have asbestos removed by a specialist contractor using the correct safety gear who will dispose of it legally.
6: Plan very carefully and avoid variations
Careful planning and having an exact idea of what you want to achieve, what you are getting and how everything will be done before you sign any contract with a contractor will ensure you’re not stung with hefty fees for necessary changes.
Suppose you use a builder to manage your bathroom renovation. In that case, it is guaranteed he will charge over the odds for variations to a contract if you have made a selection mistake or want to change your layout or add additional fixtures.
Many builders will come in with a low quote to prey on clients who are not clear on their plans and have not prepared properly.
Regardless of how well you perceive you get along with the builder or other contractors, ensure that the fittings and fixtures are precisely what you are after and will fit exactly where they are supposed to go. The colours and tiles are strictly correct, the costs are itemised on the contract, and you are confident that all labour, material and administrative expenses are included.
Please ensure any variations are fully costed, and you approve in writing before they commence.
7: Things to be careful of
Make sure you have more than enough tiles because if they break in future or if they break some during your renovations, you want to have some spares on hand that are from the same batch so that they are a perfect match.
Avoid ordering plumbing or electrical fixtures online or overseas, as they will almost always be shoddy or inferior fittings and fixtures and will come back to haunt you.
Ordering online plumbing or electrical fixtures online invariably is not worth the savings they appear to offer.
Consider where you’re going to shower as your bathroom’s going to be out of action for a week or two at least, and always double any timeframe you have given by any contractor.
It is widespread to discover rotten timber under baths or behind shower walls which will require extra work, with any other savings you make being eaten up quickly if you are unprepared for that.
Plan a bathroom renovation from beginning to end
Ultimately your bathroom renovation is all about careful planning and managing expectations.
Careful planning will assist you in ensuring your bathroom renovation costs don’t blow up in your face.
Finally, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deals. Compare prices and materials from different suppliers, and consider hiring a trusted, experienced contractor who can help you get the most bang for your buck.
At Whywait Plumbing, we understand that budget is a significant concern regarding bathroom renovations. But by following these tips, you can create a beautiful, functional bathroom without blowing your budget. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create the bathroom of your dreams without breaking the bank.
Whywait Plumbing does not provide free plumbing quotes or estimates and has never done so on any service or maintenance plumbing works.
Yes, we will do free plumbing quotes if you bring a set of design drawings into our office, such as hydraulic or architectural plans.
If we have to attend on-site at your home or business premises, there are significant costs involved for us. That is why we charge you a diagnostic fee.
Businesses that advertise that they undertake free quotes or devalue their time and their expertise. I guarantee you will pay for their time, hidden somewhere in their charges because, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Think about it, would you go to work for free?
People who want free quotes are…
We learnt long ago that offering free plumbing quotes or estimates wastes our time, money and company resources.
In our experience, people who call Whywait Plumbing asking for free plumbing quotes or expecting us to come to the site and solve their problems obligation-free fall into the following categories:
Dreamers who are toying with some vague idea of a plumbing installation such as a third bathroom or outdoor kitchen, who want us to design it all and solve all the problems but have little intention of using our services
price checkers who want us to give them a comparison price in the hope we come up with a cheaper alternative to undertake the work
time-wasting people who have a significant plumbing issue, such as flooding in their backyard in heavy rainfall, who want us to investigate and solve the problems and are insistent on picking our brains, getting all the information off us so they can then do it themselves or get a handyman to do it
the DIY homeowner who wants to pick our brain so he can run to Bunnings and be a weekend warrior playing at being a plumber.
Without profit, any business is just an expensive hobby
We learnt at Whywait a long ago to accept that we cannot compete with competitors who devalue their plumbing licenses by racing to the bottom with clients who are only interested in PRICE, being:
a cheap price,
a less expensive than fair price that an alleged competitor has quoted over the phone,
an entirely unreasonably and pathetically inadequate price that does not even cover the plumbers’ wages.
As the owner of Whywait Plumbing, I was lucky enough to learn a long time ago that we always had to do our budgets and know where our break-even cost was so we know when to say NO. This ensures that we don’t waiver from our commitment to providing outstanding customer service from well-trained and professional plumbers who stand behind their work.
As I said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch because Whywait Plumbing Pty Ltd is a business that is legally obligated to generate profits.
I reiterate that without profit, any business is just an expensive hobby.
The DIY installation of a bidet seat or a douche spray is illegal. The health risk of incorrectly installed bidet seats or douche sprays can be severe not only to you but to the community as a whole. In the last month, Google searches for the term bidets have increased tenfold, which is frightening as traditionally Australians have shunned the installation of bidets. The increase in Google searches has occurred due to multiple social media posts and newspaper articles on so-called alternative toileting devices and what is appallingly lousy advice on their installation.
The multitude of bidet seats and douche sprays that can now be found for sale online has set off alarm bells at all levels of government in Australia. It is evident when checking the scant information available online that very few of these online products have been tested and approved for use in Australia.
Hardware stores and specialist plumbing suppliers that stock douche spray kits are selling them out as fast as stock arrives to DIY enthusiasts who get installation advice from shop assistants. This just increases the health risks tenfold. There have been reports of staff in plumbing supply stores being abused for refusing to advise on how to install bidet seats or douche spray kits and suggesting that a licensed plumber must install these products.
As a result, here in Queensland the QBCC has issued a public warning on the sale and installation of ‘alternative toileting devices’ which in part states:
This is a warning issued by the Commissioner of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to the public under section 20J(1)(i) of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act).
The QBCC warns suppliers and the public about the sale and use of potentially non-conforming building products, namely Do It Yourself (DIY) bidets, douche sprays and similar hygiene devices, collectively known as ‘alternative toileting devices’.
The QBCC has recently become aware of the sale and DIY installation of alternative toileting devices in Queensland, particularly for household use. Unless these devices are manufactured to comply with Australian Standards and also are properly installed, these can lead to a risk of contaminating the household water supply with E. coli bacteria. An E. coli infection can lead to serious health and safety issues.
In Queensland, alternative toileting devices must be installed by a licensed plumber who has the skills and qualifications to ensure that a backflow prevention device is in place.
A bidet seat or a douche spray are classified as high hazard plumbing products. This is because there is a high risk of toilet sewage water mixing with your drinking water if they are not installed as per the requirements of section 12 of AS/NZS 3500.1-2018 Water Services. They must be legally certified with an Australian WaterMark approval which is evident on the packaging plus can be searched online at the WaterMark Product Database.
Despite looking easy to install, they are not. Both a bidet seat and a douche spray require a water connection. Generally, this can be at the water connection for the toilet cistern. However, this always requires a legally compliant backflow prevention device to be installed as well. This is not an optional extra it is the law to prevent your drinking water from becoming contaminated, which pose serious risks to your families health and safety.
If you have recently undertaken a DIY installation of a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet, then we urge you to call us on (07) 5580 4311 to get us to check it is a compliant installation. This ensures you have not created a risk to your families health and safety plus ensures you have not null and voided your homes insurance policies.
You need to be aware of so-called unlicensed plumbers or handyman who cannot legally install a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet. Beware of the handyman who tries to convince you that he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been. For extra assurance go the QBCC website To find out more about a licensee you can use their online licensee search, or search their occupational licence.
If you would like to investigate the installation of a bidet seat or douche spray to your toilet, then call us on (07) 5580 4311 to book an appointment. This ensures the installation is compliant with Queensland law as all products we install have appropriate and genuine Watermark certification.
With all the uncertainly during this ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is critical Gold Coast homeowners and businesses don’t fall into the trap of using so-called handymen or unlicensed plumbers. In reality, there is no such occupation categorised as unlicensed plumbers. Every person classified as a plumber is licensed by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission or QBCC.
All individuals and companies must hold a QBCC licence for any building works that involve any work that is:
Your plumbing is not a simplistic plaything and worldwide is classified as critical public health infrastructure. All work undertaken on any aspect of your plumbing, drainage or gas infrastructure is legally required to be undertaken by appropriately licensed individuals and companies.
All plumbers frequently experience fixing up after a handyman who makes out that unlicensed plumbers exist and convinces homeowners he can undertake plumbing works as long as it’s under $3300 of value. This is a complete lie by opportunistic unlicensed scammers who put your families health at risk. The benchmark value for undertaking plumbing, drainage or gas work is $0 and always has been.
Any plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work is essential to ensuring the health and safety of the entire community. This is critically important with the COVIC-19 health pandemic we are currently facing.
Every aspect of the plumbing, drainage and gas trades are administered by a strict licensing and legislative regime. This ensures every person in these trades holds the relative QBCC licences that are legally required. This, in turn, ensures the safety and protection of the entire community through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, sanitary drains and sewers to dispose of wastewater, and gas pipes and appliances that are fit for purpose.
We all agree that using a licensed plumber or gas fitter can appear expensive, but it is an investment that protects your families health. Using an unlicensed plumber can null and void your insurance coverage plus leave you with possible legal and financial implications.
Especially now demand to sight the QBCC licences visually. A QBCC occupational licence enables the person to carry out the work physically. A QBCC contractor licence allows the person to engage in contracting for the work.
Can plumbing work be undertaken by unlicensed plumbers or handymen?
Repairing or replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern
Replacing caps or covers to ground-level inspection openings on a sanitary drain
Cleaning or maintaining a ground-level grate for a trap on a sanitary drain
Installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from a tap, isolating valve or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the watering system
Repairing or maintaining an irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from a greywater use facility or on-site sewage facility
Fire protection work for testing plumbing carried out by a holder of a fire protection occupational licence or another QBCC licence
Incidental unskilled tasks such as excavating or backfilling a trench
Many of these tasks are much more complicated than they appear. Mixer taps, for example, can be extremely complicated just to dismantle and technically they have no washer so must always be worked on by a licensed plumber.
Despite social media saying yes you can we can guarantee it is entirely illegal for anyone other than a licensed plumber to install a bidet seat or a douche spray to a toilet.
Checking a plumbers licence
Prior to letting anyone commence work on your plumbing, drainage or gas ask them for their plumbers’ licence as they are legally obliged to produce it for you if requested.
A phone call I received last week from a cleaner asking me are cleaners able to legally undertake plumbing work alerted me to the pressures many cleaning contractors face from unscrupulous building owners and property managers. Increasingly there is a tendency by commercial building owners and their property managers to require their cleaning contractors to undertake work tasks that are legally plumbing. Cleaners undertaking plumbing tasks are quite merely breaking several laws as are their employers and supervisors.
The most common plumbing tasks that cleaners who are untrained, unskilled and unlicensed appear to be being required to undertake as part of their cleaning duties are:
unblocking of drains
unblocking of toilets
disconnecting and clearing of traps
servicing of urinals
What plumbing work can a cleaner perform
The only plumbing-related tasks a cleaner or any other person can legally undertake are:
cleaning or maintaining ground level grates to traps on sanitary drains
replacing caps to ground level inspection openings on sanitary drains
maintaining an above or below ground irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from an on-site sewerage facility
installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from an isolating valve, tap or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the irrigation or lawn watering system
replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
changing a showerhead
replacing, in a water closet (WC) cistern, a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber.
All other work must be undertaken by a licensed plumber and drainer – no ifs, no buts, no exceptions.
Laws that apply to who can do plumbing
Cleaners who are required and frequently forced by their supervisors and employers to undertake plumbing tasks usually at the behest of building owners and property managers are all breaking the following laws and regulations:
Building Services Authority Act 1991
Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code
Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002
Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003
Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003
Plumbers and drainers, unlike cleaners, are trained to undertake tasks such as clearing of drains or working on toilets or urinals. All of these tasks require specialised training, diagnostic skills and an awareness of health and safety issues. Above all plumbers are licensed to undertake the work by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the Plumbing Industry Council. The latter are legally required to protect public health and safety through Queensland’s plumbing and drainage licensing system.
Standard Plumbing & Drainage Regulation 2003 requirements
Tasks such as unblocking of drains, unblocking of toilets, disconnecting and clearing of traps or servicing of urinals are covered explicitly by schedule 2 of Standard Plumbing & Drainage Regulation 2003 as detailed below:
work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing a fitting or fixture
work necessary for maintaining or repairing an apparatus other than a backflow prevention device or thermostatic mixing valve
work necessary for replacing apparatus other than a backflow prevention device, thermostatic mixing valve, tempering valve, water heater, cistern, pump or water meter
work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing fire hydrants or fire hose reels
unblocking a pipe that is sanitary plumbing or sanitary drainage
work necessary for maintaining or repairing a solar or heat pump hot water system in a building classified under BCA as a class 1, 2, 3 or 4 building
Work undertaken under schedule 2 does not require the lodgement of form 4 with the local government plumbing & drainage inspectors. Still, all work must be conducted by a licensed plumber or drainer.
A cleaner despite what they are told cannot undertake any of the above tasks. They and those that instruct them to do the work are breaking the law, and all are liable for fines plus leave themselves exposed to common law claims under the due diligence provisions of the new WHS Act 2011.
It is straightforward if there is general cleaning of a plumbing fixture then there is no issue its a cleaning task. Where a component part is replaced or disconnected from the plumbing or drainage system, fixture or fitting for maintenance or servicing it can only be legally undertaken by a licensed plumber.
I reiterate the answer to the question are cleaners able to legally undertake plumbing work is a resounding NO and if you are unsure call Whywait Plumbing any time of (07) 5580 4311 to get assistance.
Whywait Plumbing has noted the upward trend of annual increases in the number of blocked drain occurrences that require clearing with high-pressure water jetting equipment since 2005, with even sharper increases since 2008.
This has generally been attributed to the advent of low-flow dual flush toilets, especially the 4.5/3 litre toilet suites.
Your house drain that connects to the sewer was designed when water flows were much more substantial than they are now. Traditionally a toilet flush was 11 litres, and this flow was supplemented by inflows from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Prior to legislative changes in 2007, a shower deluged you with a flow of 25 litres per minute now that is 9 litres. Taps in the remainder of the house all had substantial flow rates of 20 – 25 litres per minute, but now that is 6 litres per minute.
Consequently, it made sense that the 70% reduction in water flows was the cause of this rapid increase in blocked drains. Naturally, this made complete sense in homes and business premises that were new or had upgraded their taps and toilets. But why were we seeing an increase where no such upgrades had occurred? Over the last year, Whywait Plumbing Services, like many other plumbing companies, began noticing, when undertaking a CCTV survey of a drain, large clumps of toilet paper that had not broken down in the water.
This issue with toilet paper has now reached a point where the National Plumbing Regulators have had a NATA laboratory undertaking research on the varying degrees of toilet paper quality and its influence on flow performance down a drain. Results to date are concerning as over 20 commercially available toilet paper brands were evaluated in full performance testing. There were an excessive number of these toilet papers whose performance in the poor break down in water can potentially cause more blockages than others.
It’s interesting to note that none of the toilet paper culprits that have an increased potential to cause blockages is locally manufactured. Its even more interesting that the Federal Government has a committee investigating the dumping of commodities by China into Australia and one of these commodities is toilet paper. It is doubtful whether Coles and Woolworths are too concerned about what happens to this cheap toilet they import once it passes through their checkouts. Who knows what these toilet papers are really manufactured from?
These cheap toilet papers dominate in commercial buildings where contract cleaning companies install the cheapest toilet paper they can purchase. This has resulted in alarming increases in blockages in commercial buildings.
So next time when you pick up that packet of toilet paper that is on special in the supermarket just have a look to see where it is manufactured or you may unknowingly be purchasing a blocked drain at the same time.