One of the most used spaces in any house is the bathroom. It is also the area that takes the maximum beating – from moisture and general wear and tear. A bathroom if not correctly tended will be vulnerable to mildew and mold formation. It is therefore essential that extra care is given to the bathroom and you are always on top of any form of repairs or maintenance. On the other hand, a bathroom might have to be renovated and remodeled not only because it needs new tiles and fittings but also because the existing space has outgrown its functionality.
When should you take up a bathroom remodel?
There are many reasons for renovating a bathroom. The first is that your needs might have changed. You no longer need the massive bathtub taking up a lot of floor area, and you feel that in its place more storage would help. This is especially true when you have a growing family with more members. Another reason could be that you wish to change the layout and want to move the fittings around for a new look. You might want to change the position of the bathroom shower set or the vanity. But in this case, be prepared for high expenses. Shifting the plumbing network or electrical points does not come cheap.
A well-planned out bathroom with new fittings increases the kerb value of the property. This can also be one of the factors for a complete bathroom overhaul. Finally, lifestyle change is often a key factor behind a bathroom remodel. You may find that you just cannot live any longer with the same decade-old laminates and faucets and would like to upgrade the space with new technologically advanced fittings to give a new look and feel to your bathroom.
However, bathroom renovation is a complex and intricate task and should be planned out thoroughly before you take the first step. It is also advisable that you take the help of professionals and expert bathroom renovators instead of treating it as a DIY project.
Planning for a bathroom renovation
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a successful bathroom remodel project.
- Hiring a bathroom renovation expert – There are a lot of things that need to be taken up including setting time-frames, knowing the availability of products and coordinating with all tradespeople hired for the work. Be intimately involved at every step of the planning stage and work closely with the renovator. The builder will work out many designs and floor plans as well as the fittings and fixtures that will go with it. Once you have finalized these aspects, you can set your budget for the remodel.
When you are shopping for bathroom accessories, work with one supplier. Opting for a single-point purchase store will assist you to streamline the order and receiving products stage. As soon as one lot is delivered, check that these are the correct items and all of them are free from any damage and defects.
- Fixing a budget – Be realistic when you work out a budget. The remodel should reflect the quality and value of your home and its location. A remodel is usually carried out after 10 to 15 years, and hence all future requirements should be taken into account. Your budget will be based on the extent of renovation and quality and finishes that you specify to your builder. Many people try and cut costs by doing some of the work themselves, but this can be a significant expense point if mistakes are made and have to be set right. Electrical and plumbing works have to be necessarily entrusted to professionals and tradespeople will get the job done in half the time than a DIY try.
Some of the expenses that have to be factored in are costs for lighting and ventilation, materials and finishes such as vanity tops, tiles and stone, and accessories like mirrors, towel-racks, bathmat and soap dispensers. The cost of fixtures and fittings will depend on the quality that you seek for your remodeled bathroom. It also depends on your location. The same type of tapware or shower or other bathroom accessories in Melbourne will be differently priced in Perth or Sydney or Brisbane. Finally, a large part of the expenses will be towards painting, plumbing, cabinetry, and labor charges. However, the last part will be included in the builder’s estimates as he will be bringing in the tradespeople.
- Selecting a bathroom style – The main fun in remodeling a bathroom is picking a style that will suit your tastes and personality. With the opening up of the world through the Internet, you can quickly research the trending bathroom styles today. Or you can walk into your nearest bathroom showroom and see fully functional bathrooms on display. Decide on the look that you will be comfortable with and which matches the setup and internal decor of your rooms. For a modern home, you can opt for a lot of steel and chrome and a standalone stone bathtub complemented with contrasting black cabinets against light colored tiles for an exclusive look. In the case of a traditional old-world home, vanities and storage in solid moisture-resistant teak matched with soft back-lit mirrors will be in order. Check out trending styles in magazines and interior decoration websites and discuss the costs with your builder.
- Choosing a color scheme – This is a crucial factor in any bathroom renovation. The most preferred option is a white bathroom scheme as it gives a clean, bright and fresh look. Further, a bathroom is usually not very big and having light-colored decor assists in bringing about a sense of open and ample space. Having elements of wood gives a sense of warmth and character to a bathroom.
For effect, you can introduce strong and bold colors in your bathroom. Vivid colors can be brought in through tiles and decorative accents and linen. Extra contrast can be added with matte black tapware and fixtures as it helps to make a timeless and sophisticated graphic statement.
There is an advantage in having bold colored linens and accessories like bath towels. You will never tire of the aesthetics of the bathroom and can update the look any time you want to at minimum expenses.
- Carrying out a site Inspection – Once the bathroom renovation has been completed, you should carry out a detailed inspection of the site before making the final payment to the renovator. Even though you might have evaluated and closely monitored the project at every stage, it is essential to check the final result as carefully as possible. Defects in workmanship if any have to be pointed out and it has to be ensured that all fittings and fixtures are working as they should. Finally, make sure that the plan decided on at the start has been followed meticulously.
Choosing new fittings and fixtures
This factor is not after a large part of the project has been completed but should be a crucial aspect from the start of the planning stage. In fact, this is critical for setting a budget. A small point here – there is a subtle difference between bathroom fittings and fixtures though the two are often used interchangeably. If the furniture can be moved, it is bathroom fittings. Items such as vanity and fitted furniture are usually classified as bathroom fixtures.
Here are some ideas that you can adapt while choosing new fittings and fixtures.
- Knowing the brand – When you go shopping for bathroom products, you will be spoilt for choice. There are hundreds of types you can choose from, but you should exercise a great deal of caution. Do not buy cheap brands of unknown companies but choose from reputed branded products. Longevity of the fittings you buy is as important as the price and style. Good quality products have a warranty on which you can fall back on in case of any defects. Another issue that you might face if you buy cheap items is a shortage of replacement parts. For instance, sometime down the line after a few years, you might have to change a critical component of your cistern. If spare parts are not available the whole unit will have to be replaced at considerable expenses.
On a tight budget, channelize the bulk of your budget for fittings and fixtures on buying high-quality taps and toilet suites rather than anything else. These are the items that generally require service in the future. One way to know which brand to opt for is to go with the plumber’s recommendations.
- Selecting the taps – You might get caught up and be tempted to buy a particular style of taps, but before doing so, some things need to be thought of. Consider the fixtures and how you intend to use the taps before buying them. Do you need something wall mounted or a tall one over your basin? Do you want a long spouted tap that extends over your bath? Will it stick too far out in your shower? These aspects should be planned out well in advance. Another point is whether you should buy taps or mixers. The cost of each is about the same, so the decision boils down to the functionality that you prefer. Taps have three-piece spouts where you have to mix the hot and cold water whereas mixers give you both from one spout. Another thing to keep in mind is that taps are sold separately from fixtures, and hence they might not always be compatibility between the two. Generic taps will fit generic fixtures, but some are designed to fit one type only.
- Future maintenance – White bathroom fixtures are classic and have been used over the ages, but now there has been a gradual shift to natural and cast fixtures. White ceramic basins have been a popular choice, but the look of concrete or stone is what is trending today. Before buying any of them, know the specific maintenance tasks required for each of them.
An example will illustrate this point better. Maintaining cast-stone fixtures is not easy as their exterior surfaces dent and stain easily. The color too changes over time. The surface can be sanded and refinished periodically to make them look as good as new but do you see yourself carrying out this chore in future? This is one reason why ceramic is an acceptable choice for bathrooms as they are easy to clean and maintain. Ask your supplier for maintenance tips that will keep your fixtures in good shape and think whether you will be up to it.
- Fitting into a specific space – Consider the area in your bathroom before investing in fixtures. Your heart might be on a freestanding tub but will it fit into the width of your bathroom. If you have upgraded your vanity, will the basins work and match with them? These questions should be asked and answered at the very start of the project. You can take measurements before visiting the supplier, or you can consult the architect or the renovator. They have the required expertise to advise you on the type of fixtures that will go with the space available.
- Buy from a reputable supplier – There are benefits of sourcing all your supplies from a reputable store. They keep detailed records of all sales, and this will be useful in case of any warranty issues, more so if you have lost the paperwork of these purchases. Another benefit of buying from reputed suppliers is that they sell products that have the WaterMark certification. It is important in Australia that all drainage and plumbing products have this certification without which no plumber will install them in your home.
In a nutshell, then, the key to buying fittings and fixtures for your bathroom is to purchase quality products from a reputable supplier and ask your plumber what is trending in bathroom fixtures and fittings. Do not buy cheap, low-quality items. Middle-of-the-range products are always the best not only because spare parts of these fixtures are readily available, but plumbers too will be familiar with their operations.