Top 10 tips for your next bathroom renovation project

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1. Bathroom renovation costs

How much does a bathroom renovation cost? An average new bathroom suite costs around £3,000 however the total renovation project cost depends on whether you’re opting for DIY and fitting the bathroom suite yourself, whether you’re remodelling the space and moving fittings to different positions and the level of luxury that you want to install.

Once you’ve decided on the suite you’d like to install, the next largest cost tends to be labour. You’re likely to need a builder, a tiler, an electrician and a plumber. Most bathroom fitting companies tend to have all skills in their team. Ensure your contractor is experienced in tiling and plastering as this is where the time (and cost) can surprisingly increase if this piece of work slows down.

Other costs to budget for include the cost of tiles, flooring materials, lighting, ventilation, mirrors and heated towel rails. You may also need to buy material to build a bath frame.

Clearing up also costs money! Some homeowners hire a skip to dispose of the old bathroom fittings, you may be able to sell the old fittings on eBay or Shpock, or you could agree with the contractor for them to take the old debris away.

Be aware of some common bathroom renovation “surprise” costs:
1. You may need to upgrade your boiler
2. If you’re building a bathroom in a loft conversion read the Government’s Party Wall Act 1996 first, you may be liable to pay for repairs to the neighbour’s property if it becomes damaged during the works
3. If you’re building a wet room, allow some budget for tanking the room properly

2. Vital measurements

Grab a ruler, pencil and notepad! It’s important to measure your bathroom carefully before you start the bathroom renovation project. Measure the length of each wall, the height of the ceiling and the centre line of each wall. Door and window positioning should also be included. Note on your diagram the exact positioning of the existing plumbing pipes.

Once you have the double-checked measurements, it will be much easier to select the right bathroom suite.

3. Planning the renovation

“Failing to learn from the past - you’re doomed to repeat it” as famously quoted by Sir Winston Churchill. Having building work done in your home is definitely a situation you’re going to want to plan beforehand.

Firstly, you’ll need to decide which contractors are going to work on the project. Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations as well as checking companies on Checkatrade or RatedPeople and other reputation services.

Once you’ve found the contractors, agree the new bathroom layout with them. Decide on a project schedule, including the start date, dates to order the fittings and an expected finish date. There are some very useful renovation checklists online that guide you step by step through the process.

Before work starts prepare to empty the bathroom of all clutter. This is a good time to throw away, sell or give-away anything in the bathroom that you won’t use again.

If this is the only bathroom in your home, it’s advisable to consider moving out to a hotel or a bed and breakfast for the duration of the works. Otherwise, (and if you’re very easy going) you could hire a portable toilet to be placed in the garden and arrange to shower and bath at a friend’s house or at the gym.

4. Choosing bathroom fittings

The first thing to decide is whether you want a traditional or modern design. Typically, you would choose the right type to match the rest of your house. Traditional style bathrooms include roll top baths and Victorian style taps whereas modern style bathrooms have sleek lines and come in many different sizes, making the modern styles more suitable for many homes. Most people opt to modernise their bathroom when renovating.

Think about who will be using the bathroom and their needs. For example, if you have bad knees a deep bath can be hard to get into; and if you have little children, a wall mounted sink is a tempting but dangerous swing! There are many ways you can make the bathroom easier to use, such as slow closing toilet lids and sink plugs that use normal fittings, not automatic ones that age poorly over time.

5. Bathroom flooring

The most important thing to consider when choosing bathroom flooring is that it must be waterproof, durable and non-slip. There are many different materials to choose from including the popular ceramic tiles, marble tiles and granite tiles. You can also buy less expensive but good quality, sheet vinyl floor covering or vinyl tiles.

6. Ventilation

Air flow in your bathroom is vital. Without good ventilation the walls and ceiling will be covered in condensation and eventually become mouldy. Extractor fans should be positioned away from water splashes and out of reach. However, you do need to think about your fan at least twice a year as it’s recommended by the Institute of Electrical Engineers that the fan should be cleaned at least every 6 months as part of your normal home maintenance work.

There are different types of low voltage bathroom fans to choose from, including fans on timers, fans with an automatic humidity sensor and/or a motion detector.

7. Lighting up the bathroom

Maximise natural light in the bathroom as much as possible, either through widening existing windows, building new windows or installing ceiling solar tubes. Have blinds fitted above the lintel so that when they are pulled up, they are not covering the window at all.

Bathroom light fittings are classified in zones, with Zone 0 being suitable for the wettest areas such as inside the bath and Zone 3 being least likely to get wet. Most bathroom ceiling recessed downlights will be in Zone 3 unless you have very low cottage ceilings.

Installing illuminated mirrors and under cupboard lights increase the brightness in the room. If your bathroom layout allows enough floor space, you could also include LED lights in the floor.

A combination of the different lighting options will provide you with flexibility to light the bathroom either brightly or subtly for different times of the day.

8. Bathroom storage

Don’t forget to save some space in the bathroom layout plans for some essential storage! Space saving vanity units under the sink are commonplace, as are having a small medicine cupboard on the wall.

If you’ve got any spare wall space, extra toiletries cupboards or shelves are useful. As are wider cupboards for towels.

Some mirrors have handy hidden cupboards or shelves behind. Another handy tip would be to attach a magnetic strip to the wall or inside a cupboard to stick up tweezers, scissors and other bathroom accessories.

If you’re really stuck for space in a small bathroom renovation project, you could build the bath on a framed plinth and install a drawer underneath.

9. Eco-friendly bathrooms

Did you know that every person in the UK uses approximately 150 litres of water per day?

Flushing the toilet results in the single highest use of water in the average British home, some toilets use as much as 13 litres per flush. Installing a low flow toilet would use less water and save you money in water bills. There are also some innovative new toilet designs available from Germany that have rimless toilet bowls and low-flow flushing which use only between 2-4 litres per flush.

Another way to minimise water usage is through installing low flow taps. Some popular low-flow taps use aerators which mix tiny air bubbles with the water in the tap. Or you could opt for a motion sensor tap which only turns on when your hands (or a toothbrush) are under the tap.

Other eco-friendly changes you could install during your bathroom renovation include: vanity units made from sustainably harvested wood; recycled glass tile surfaces and long lasting LED lightbulbs.

10. Luxury finishes

And finally, if the budget allows, and you are confident it will add extra value to your home then spoil yourself and give your bathroom a little luxurious touch!

Some ideas for an added bit of luxury include a backlit heated mirror, underfloor heating, a built-in hi-fi, a waterproof TV or that European mystery “the bidet”. You could even opt to upgrade your standard bath to a bubbly spa bath with an automated remote control bath filler!

Member of staff was helpful and understood my need to insure a vacant property undergoing renovation. Good insurance for a good price Tuesday, 11 July 2017

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All completed online, easily and at a competitive price against other companies who offer home insurance during a renovation, May 2022
The insurance was easy to set up and then add the contents once the renovation work was completed. Customer services were also good. Trustpilot, 19 April 2022
Had to make a couple of changes from last year's policy... So spoke to the call centre who were absolutely brilliant.... very helpful, thank you. Trustpilot, 1 March 2017