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How to Renovate a Bathroom on a Budget

How to Renovate a Bathroom on a Budget

Bathroom renovations come in all different sizes, from a modern retro ensuite to a luxurious family bathroom with a freestanding tub. Regardless of the size or style, there is one thing all homeowners need to consider when discussing how to renovate a bathroom – establishing a budget. 

But as any fans of The Block will appreciate, renovating a bathroom while adhering to a budget is easier said than done! The key is to understand what’s involved during each of the bathroom renovation steps, then plan carefully and consult with expert professionals before finalising your bathroom design ideas.

Key Bathroom Renovation Steps

Many homeowners are unsure exactly what is involved when considering how to renovate a bathroom. While each project is unique, most will involve the following bathroom renovation steps:

  1. Planning and design: This stage is where you want to establish your renovation goal and come up with a detailed design plan. The plan should include the proposed layout for the bathroom and any specific bathroom design ideas you want to include. The initial planning and design stage is also the time to establish your budget.
    You should also obtain the necessary permits to ensure compliance with local building codes at this time. For a smooth and successful project, it’s best to engage with an experienced bathroom renovation company as early as possible during this stage.
  2. Demolition and structural work: Your bathroom renovation will begin with demolition to remove existing fixtures/finishes and to prepare the space for remodelling. Once this is complete, the structural aspects of the renovation will begin, including fixing water damage and constructing any new walls (frequently required when bathrooms are expanded or change shape).
  3. Plumbing and electrical: Once the structural work is complete the plumber and electrician can replace/upgrade any necessary systems and run pipes/wiring for the new fixtures.
  4. Waterproofing and tiling: The next step is to apply a waterproof membrane to the walls and floor to prevent moisture from causing damage. After the waterproofing is complete, the tiling can begin.
  5. Cabinetry, fixtures and finishes: Once the walls and floor are completed, it’s time to install the bathroom cabinetry, fixtures and new finishes. This would include the toilet, showerhead, tapware, vanity, lighting, ventilation and mirrors.
  6. Painting and finishing: Once the bulk of the work is complete the bathroom is ready for painting with a moisture-resistant paint. At this point, any final accessories can also be added.
  7. Final inspections and handover: At this stage any necessary final inspections will be completed to ensure the bathroom is compliant with applicable building codes and regulations. Once approved, the bathroom can be handed back over to the homeowner so they can start using and enjoying their brand-new bathroom.

You should also obtain the necessary permits to ensure compliance with local building codes at this time. For a smooth and successful project, it’s best to engage with an experienced bathroom renovation company as early as possible during this stage.

It’s important to note that bathroom renovations can vary in complexity and scope, depending on the size of the project and the specifications. To ensure a successful and safe renovation, it’s a good idea to only use experienced professionals.

How to Renovate a Bathroom: Start by Establishing Your Budget

Planning a realistic renovation budget will help you to factor in all potential costs from the very beginning and avoid any unwanted issues down the track. Start by determining what you want your bathroom renovation to include. 

You can begin by asking yourself, Is this going to be a complete overhaul (demolishing everything and starting from scratch)? Or are you looking for more of a bathroom refresh, with new cabinetry, fixtures and finishes to replace the existing ones? 

The average bathroom or ensuite renovation cost will vary significantly depending on the scope of work, the fixtures and any planned structural changes. According to the Housing Industry Association (HIA), just over 233,000 Australian households chose to renovate a bathroom in the 2018/2019 financial year, and the average cost was around $20,000. 

To ensure your anticipated bathroom renovation cost is realistic, it’s a good idea to talk to an expert. With over 25 years of experience, the team at McColl Cabinetmakers can provide practical bathroom remodelling tips to ensure you’ve factored in all the important details.

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How to Allocate Your Bathroom Renovation Budget

allocating budget for bathroom renovation

Once you’ve established an overall budget for your project, the next step is to allocate how much you’ll spend on each facet of the renovation. For a typical bathroom renovation, you’ll need to allow about 10% of the total cost on plumbing, 5% on electrical, and 25% on fixtures. You also need to allocate 25% on tiling/waterproofing and about 35% on labour and miscellaneous expenses. 

If you decide to completely change the layout of the bathroom, you’ll need to allow more for structural work and additional plumbing/electrical costs (as specialised trades will need to run new pipes and wiring). 

One of the most important things to remember when allocating your renovation budget is to allow a buffer of at least 10%. Why is this necessary? Because it’s not uncommon for unanticipated costs to pop up once demolition works begin. 

For example, it might not be until after the current floor tiles get removed that you become aware of an existing water leak that has caused damage to the timber subfloor. Or your builder may discover that your bathroom contains asbestos sheeting which must be handled in compliance with Australian safety standards. Having a 10% buffer in your budget will ensure that these kinds of discoveries can be easily dealt with. 

Bathroom Design Ideas

There are some important design elements to consider when planning how to renovate a bathroom. Finalising these details during the initial bathroom renovation steps will help to minimise or eliminate potential issues down the track. These include:

1. Choosing your key features

Most bathroom renovations will include some stand-out focal points. These are the elements that instantly draw the eye and that make you say “Wow!” when you walk in and see it for the first (or second, or third…) time. It could be the freestanding bathtub, the oversized walk-in shower with the rainfall showerhead or the double vanity with twin basins. 

Rather than trying to cram in as many special features as possible, a good bathroom remodelling tip is to focus on just a few. Think about which elements you want to highlight and what you’ll get the most use out of. For example, if you hate taking baths, then there’s probably not much point including a luxurious freestanding bathtub. This space could be better used by creating your dream shower or upgrading to custom cabinetry.

2. Deciding on the bathroom layout

One of the things that can significantly affect your bathroom renovation budget is your choice of layout. If you want to make structural changes (removing walls, adding walls, raising or lowering the floor level, etc.), you’ll need to allocate additional funds for construction tasks like demolition, framing and plastering. 

You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to keep major plumbing fixtures in the same position or if you’re going to move them to a new location. Any changes to the layout of plumbing fixtures will require additional specialised work. However, if this is going to lead to a superior outcome, it could be well worth the extra time and cost.

3. Planning carefully to avoid mid-project changes

One thing that is guaranteed to increase your bathroom or ensuite renovation cost is mid-project changes to the design or scope of work. For example, three weeks into a project a homeowner may suddenly decide they want to include a heated towel rail. However, this means that the electrician will have to return and run new wiring to the proposed towel rail location…and the tilers have already waterproofed and tiled the wall in question. 

This sort of change, while seemingly minor, will cause significant disruptions to the work schedule and can result in a lot of added costs. This is why it’s so important to finalise your bathroom design ideas before the project gets underway. Think about where you want light switches, power points, exhaust fans, and other appliances to be situated. This is to ensure that all the necessary work can be completed before the next stage of the project begins.

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Bathroom Remodelling Tips: How to Choose Quality Fixtures & Finishes

bathroom lighting and ventilation ideas

When deciding how to renovate a bathroom, your choice of fixtures and finishes can have a significant bearing on your final project cost. However, this doesn’t mean you should feel restricted to using budget materials. When deciding on your bathroom renovation fixtures and finishes, consider the following points:

1.   Splurge on the right fixtures

A good bathroom remodelling tip to keep in mind is to consider which fixtures are going to deliver the most value for money. For example, spending a little extra on a water-saving luxury showerhead will result in a bathroom that looks fantastic, but that also delivers improved energy efficiency

Likewise, opting for high-quality custom cabinetry will enable you to make the best possible use of the space while also improving your storage options. That’s why it makes sense to splurge on these kinds of fixtures, as opposed to something more basic like a mirror or a towel rail.

2.   Consider your choice of materials

You may love the look of a marble-topped vanity, but that doesn’t mean marble is your only available option. Thanks to advances in modern manufacturing techniques, there is now a range of engineered stone benchtops that deliver a beautiful and hard-wearing marble-look finish, without the marble price tag. 

Similarly, many Brisbane homeowners love the look of natural timber in a bathroom. But timber can be costly and isn’t always well-suited to the damp conditions in a bathroom. By switching to a high-quality timber-look product (such as the Polytec Woodmatt Laminates range), you’re gaining a cost-effective product that is also hygienic, low maintenance and stain/scratch-resistant.

3.   Choose the right tiles

When it comes to choosing your bathroom tiles you have a wide range of options available. This makes it possible to achieve just about any style while still staying within your budget. When considering your choice of bathroom tile, there are two main things to keep in mind: 

(a)   Tile price: Most bathroom tiles will have a price per square metre, and this can range from $30 up to $200+. The final price will often be determined by your choice of material, with standard ceramic tiles costing less than high-end travertine. 

(b)   Cost to lay: The amount of time and effort involved in laying tiles will also impact the final cost. For example, large format tiles may be faster to lay, but will they also result in more wastage? Will a herringbone pattern take longer to apply than a subway-style pattern? And will small mosaic tiles require substantially more grout? It’s a good idea to ask your builder these kinds of questions when considering potential bathroom design ideas.

Hire Experienced Professionals Who Know How to Renovate a Bathroom

Many first-time renovators feel that the easiest way to stay within budget is to personally handle the project themselves. However, this can end up backfiring. By involving an experienced bathroom renovation company from the very beginning, you’re minimising potential issues (many of them costly) that could crop up throughout the project. 

An experienced bathroom renovation design team will make sure key details haven’t been overlooked in the planning stages, and they’ll be able to walk you through each of the bathroom renovation steps. They’ll also help you plan a realistic budget for the project and then provide you with an itemised quote for completing the work. 

With an experienced project manager on board, you can have peace of mind that a professional is coordinating the multitude of trades and suppliers. This will help to ensure you avoid costly setbacks caused by clashing timetables or material supply delays.

McColl Cabinetmakers Know How to Renovate a Bathroom

With over 25 years of experience renovating bathrooms in Ipswich and Brisbane, McColl Cabinetmakers are the ideal choice for your bathroom renovation project. With our transparent and comprehensive design and quoting process, you can be assured that you’re getting exactly what you expected, for an upfront agreed-upon price. 

In addition to being fully licensed and insured, we also offer a workmanship warranty for all of our bathroom renovation projects. To find out more, book a private consultation with one of our experienced designers or contact us today on Ph: (07) 3288 0711.

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