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Bathroom renovations on a budget

By Jessie Stewart

Many of us dream of having a serene, luxurious bathroom in our homes – much like the ones in fancy hotel rooms. Renovating is a great way to achieve your ideal space.

Bathrooms are often the #1 thing renovators want to address in their homes. Unless you have limitless funds, however, it can be difficult to know how to create a stylish bathroom without spending too much. With around 233,083 new bathrooms projected to be installed in 2018-19, according to the Australian Housing Industry Association (HIA), it’s clear Australians are primed to learn more about how to plan a great bathroom.

What’s more, according to HIA’s report, not only are we renovating old bathrooms, but we’re also increasing the number of bathrooms there are in our homes. It seems we all want our own space to get ready in the morning! Before you start sizing up bath tubs, however, it’s important to plan your budget. You don’t want to go creating a Trevi Fountain in a house that might not be worth it later down the track, should you wish to sell.

How much do the experts suggest spending on a bathroom renovation?
It goes without saying that the cost of a bathroom renovation will vary greatly between houses and will depend on sizes and fittings. There are a few general tips on how much to spend, according to Josh Garskof who writes for

For a master bathroom suite, you should invest roughly around 10% of the house’s value. So if your house is worth $750,000 that means you might be spending around $75,000.
For a powder room or family bathroom, it’s recommended to invest roughly 5% of the house’s value.

However, as the numbers from the HIA Kitchens and Bathrooms Report for 2017-18 reveal, the actual amount most Australians spend on a bathroom renovation is actually far less:

The average value for a bathroom installed as part of a renovation is $17,522.
The average value for a bathroom installed in new homes is $16,430.
The bathroom of your dreams can be achieved if you’re willing to do your homework, it’s important to know where to go luxe and where to save.

Tips to save on a bathroom renovation
A small bathroom can be renovated on a budget for as little as $5,000; larger bathrooms can cost as much as $25,000. It’s easy to go over budget if you don’t plan for the unexpected, so it pays to do your homework and have contingency money just in case things don’t go to plan.

A big budget blowout for many renovators is the cost of tradespeople and materials as these costs are often far more than what’s anticipated. Do your research to avoid unintended expenses.

Here are our tips for saving money on your next bathroom renovation:

1. Engage the best tradespeople you can afford
Look for reviews online for the best tradies in your area; good-quality work will mean the bathroom will look great and add value to your house. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and previous examples of the tradies’ work and ask for a detailed quote upfront.

Avoid haggling tradies down to a bargain-basement price and being late with payments, because, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

It’s also important to remember that renovations can sometimes throw up unexpected surprises, especially in older buildings, so by hiring the best tradespeople you’ll know you’re in great hands no matter what happens.

2. Consider the bare minimum
Can you get by with only replacing the tapware and vanity? Or would a fresh coat of paint freshen up the space? Simple changes will make the world of difference and save you thousands on a major renovation.

3. Keep original plumbing points
Avoid switching up plumbing points and consider keeping toilets, sinks or baths in the same location if they’re still in good working order.

A good clean and polish will also make things look new again in your bathroom, so don’t underestimate the power of a thorough clean of your tiling, grout, drains and floor wastes.

4. Pick your standout features
When you’re on a budget it pays to select just one item or area to splurge on. That way you can make it your feature and save money in other areas.

For example, if you love a herringbone tile feature, then go wild! But pick budget floor tiles to even out the budget.

5. Order (slightly) more than you need
It may sound counter-intuitive, however, by ordering a little more than you need you’ll avoid becoming stuck if there’s a mishap or if things don’t go quite to plan. Look for deals with your bathroom surfaces, and always order enough for the project plus a small contingency, just in case. That’s usually between 5-10% more than required, but check with your trusty tradespeople if you’re not sure.

Look for items on sale – or ask your trades if they know of any great discount suppliers (you could cash in on the tradies’ discount) – but ensure everything you select is covered by warranty, as it’ll cost more to replace if they break.

6. Only tile where needed
Consider your areas to be tiled carefully; you could save money by only tiling the areas necessary to keep the room waterproof as opposed to tiling the whole room up to the ceiling. Talk with an expert if you’re not sure.

7. Be open to vintage
Embrace pre-loved or second-hand items where possible: refurbished timber vanities or clawfoot baths can be simply stunning additions to a renovated bathroom.

8. Avoid DIY – unless you know your stuff
If you’re renovating to add value to the house as a whole, then renovating should only be done by an expert, aside from easier jobs like painting. Fixing mistakes can be costly and time-consuming, so only tackle jobs you’re confident doing yourself.


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