Renovation is not entertainment
Renovation shows such as The Block, House Rules, Selling Houses Australia, and Grand Designs command high television ratings in Australia. However, 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 they are, at best, skimped over and are generally completely ignored.
Bathroom renovation can improve your homes value
Updating a bathroom can be an exciting and rewarding project, but it can also be a source of regret if not done correctly. Planning every detail is critical for avoiding bathroom renovation regret and ensuring that your new bathroom meets your needs and hopefully exceeds your expectations.
Every real estate industry expert will confirm that a bathroom renovation will improve your home’s value and lifestyle. However, 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 shows and what is involved. Unfortunately, this is often when bathroom renovation regret steps in.
As a rule, the bathrooms are small rooms in homes over ten years old 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, but be aware that shortcuts causing mistakes and defective work in a bathroom can cause significant problems in the future and be very costly to rectify.
Do your planning first to avoid bathroom renovation regret
After 45 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 and plan thoroughly whether you are undertaking a complete renovation or just a makeover. It would help if you avoided the mistakes we see repeated over and over again, all of which should be reasonably obvious, and that is:
Plan ahead: Before starting any renovation work, it’s essential to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Consider your budget, your lifestyle, and your personal taste. Make sure you know exactly what you want before starting the renovation process.
Choose the right contractors: Choosing reputable and experienced contractors is crucial. Make sure to read reviews and ask for references. Look for contractors who will take the time to understand your needs and provide you with a detailed estimate.
Be realistic about your budget: Bathroom renovations can be costly, so it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford. Prioritize the most important elements of your renovation and be prepared to make compromises.
Consider the layout: Make sure your new bathroom layout is functional and easy to use. Think about the flow of the room, and make sure there is enough storage space and the fixtures are placed in logical locations.
Don’t neglect the details: The little things matter, too. Ensure that the finishes, such as the tile, countertops, and fixtures, are high-quality and installed correctly.
Keep future resale in mind: While you want to design your bathroom to suit your personal taste and needs, it’s also essential to keep in mind that you may sell your home in the future. So, consider what may appeal to potential buyers and make your bathroom renovation as versatile as possible.
Managing a bathroom renovation
A bathroom renovation or makeover can be project managed in two ways, requiring you to do all 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 wish to do, but it saves you the burden of dealing with 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 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 to are not hired because they are the best to undertake the job but are the cheapest companies the builder can obtain to maximise his profit.
How to choose specialist trades for your bathroom renovation
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 most minor 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
There is a limit to DIY in a bathroom renovation
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 foremost specialists you will require in a bathroom renovation.
While doing some work for yourself is a wise way to save 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 coverage being denied if something goes wrong.
No matter what you get told by well-meaning shop assistants in Bunnings, always use qualified and licensed tradesmen for regulated work such as pest control, electrical, plumbing, gasfitting, and waterproofing. Therefore, part of your initial planning is to know which aspects of the bathroom renovation must be undertaken by experienced, specialist and licensed trades companies.
You will only get what you pay for
The old saying about only getting what you pay for has never been so true, especially regarding 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 much more in the long run.
If you’re buying the fixtures and fittings for the bathroom renovation yourself, 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 sell are brand-name fakes and claim 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.
Avoid a bold colour and design if it is a permanent feature, such as the tiles, vanity, or toilet. In the permanent features, always aim for a neutral understatement that will last the 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 you put in after you renovate the bathroom.
Stick to your plans once you begin
You need to know precisely what you want before beginning your bathroom renovation, within reason. Then, once you have planned your bathroom, commit to it because it will cost you a fortune if you change your mind once work begins. For example, changing your mind about a bath or shower size 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. If you treat a bathroom renovation like you see on The Block, I guarantee you will suffer from bathroom renovation regret.