How to Cut the Cost of Your Bathroom Renovation
Costs can easily escalate with bathroom projects, so follow this expert advice on how to budget wisely
Expert advice from: Raj Ghaly of Bathrooms By Design; Justin Wedgbury at Flush Fitting; Steve Baker at The London Bath Co
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If you want to avoid expensive mistakes, this is rule number one.
“Ask your fitter for suggestions and opinions as to what might work before you get your heart set on a layout, product or idea that can’t be realised (either at all, or within a sensible budget),” Justin Wedgbury says.
“I’ve been to houses where people have bought shower enclosures that totally dominate a room and leave tiny spaces to side-step around, or devised a layout that means the door hits the basin when opened,” he says.
“When visiting a showroom, take pictures of your space as well as the measurements,” he adds. “The bathroom isn’t always an easy or straightforward room to buy for.”
Related to rule number one, rearranging pipework can be pricey – and unnecessary.
“Changing the layout of the room entirely, or even marginally, to accommodate plumbing in different areas of the room could significantly raise the cost of a renovation, especially when considering installation costs,” Raj Ghaly says. “So it’s recommended you try to use existing plumbing and not drastically change the layout of your room.”
If you’re on a budget, it can be tempting to go it alone. But planning everything yourself can be a false economy.
“Right in the early stages, get professional bathroom fitters in to take a look. They usually offer free advice, so pick their brains,” Justin advises.
“If you find a good fitting company, they can assist in the buying of materials and furniture. This should mean a substantial financial saving and be less problematic all round,” he says. “This doesn’t mean you just ‘get what you’re given’ – the decisions are always yours, it’s your bathroom.”
Bear in mind professional bathroom companies often get the best deals. “It’s in the interest of suppliers, including prestigious showrooms, online distributors and high street outlets, to nurture relationships with bulk-buyers,” Justin says. “Discounts, favours and offers all help to provide the end customer with plenty of options.”
Read reviews of bathroom designers and fitters in your area.
Avoid a long list of niggly jobs at the end of your project – which will cost extra money to fix – by drawing up a clear contract with your fitter at the start. Know where you stand, so you can budget accordingly.
“Make sure it’s written down by the company or by you and agreed which tasks will be done,” Justin says. “Many fitters won’t include ‘making good’ door frames, decoration and electrical works, for example.”
Unless you’re planning a wetroom, you don’t need to cover every inch with porcelain, Raj advises. Not only is this cheaper – both in terms of labour and costs – but part-tiling is also often more practical.
“The advantage of part-tiling is that the bathroom becomes much more flexible,” Raj says. “For example, you can paint the rest of the walls, which means the bathroom can be redesigned more easily in the future, using different colours.
“Hanging pictures on bathroom walls is also becoming popular and part-tiling gives you this option,” he adds.
When it comes to tile prices, Raj says, “Ceramic tiles are generally cheaper. Imitation tiles (marble-look for example) can be inexpensive, yet will give your bathroom a similar luxury look and feel like the real thing.”
- Know your materials
Still on the subject of tiles, remember you don’t have to choose the most expensive options – especially these days.
- “Use good-quality porcelain tiles instead of natural stone,” Steve Baker advises. “Technology is so good now, it’s often hard to distinguish between them, and porcelain tiles can be considerably cheaper.
- “Porcelain is also much more durable than natural stone and less prone to cracking and chipping, and it doesn’t require regular sealing to stop it staining,” Steve adds. “Go for a full-bodied porcelain tile, which means your tiler will be able to polish the edges instead of using unsightly trims.”
“Bathrooms aren’t cheap. After kitchens, they’re the most expensive room in the house to overhaul,” Justin says. “There’s a lot of labour involved from different trades: plumbing, carpentry, electrical, tiling, decoration.
“It can be confusing to pin down exact costs in the early stages,” he says, “so it can be better to use a trusted company that does the lot, as they’ll help ensure different tradespeople don’t ‘tread on each other’s toes’.”
This isn’t for everyone, but if you aren’t one of life’s long soakers, it could be a money-saving option.
“We’ve noticed more customers opting for showers rather than baths, and this can not only bring down the initial fitting outlay, but lower running costs long-term due to greater energy efficiency,” Raj says.
Buying former showroom fittings can be a great way to bag a bargain.
“These shouldn’t have negative connotations,” Raj says. “You’ll reduce your expenditure by purchasing a product that’s been on display in a showroom but is unlikely to be damaged.”
Call around local showrooms to find out what might be available in-store. You may find a stylish basin in one shop and a great bath in another.
“Clearance items will also save you a lot,” Raj adds. “These may include discontinued items, so it’s stock that bathroom retailers need to get rid of and will offer at a reduced price.
“Comparing prices is also advised, but avoid the temptation to compromise,” he warns. “By going for the cheapest deals, you may be sacrificing on the quality of design and service.”
Steve adds, “Also look at the entry-level ranges by quality bathroom manufacturers, as you’ll often get better materials for less money.”
Recycle the decent things, by all means, but not every last screw or bath plug, or you’re defeating the object of planning a lovely new bathroom.
“Keeping the old ceiling because it’s ‘OK’, or not having an extractor fan fitted as it costs a bit more, could affect the finished look,” Justin says.
“Saving old taps or radiators to put in the new suite won’t help your budget much when the fitter is having to clean them up or strip them down carefully to remove anyway,” he says.
Raj adds, “Opting for a cheap toilet can lead to problems in the future, due to poor build quality and because flushing performance could be less than optimal. Fixtures such as basins are also worth investing in, as these are products you’ll want to stand the test of time without cracking or staining.”
Lights can get forgotten in bathrooms, but they make a big difference to the final effect. “Use good-quality LED spotlights for your bathroom,” Steve suggests. “They may cost a little more initially, but you’ll make savings sooner than you think and you won’t have the inconvenience of constantly changing light bulbs.”
Have you managed to save money on a bathroom project? Share your tips in the Comments.