Bathroom makeover tips on a budget

Remodelling your home’s bathroom is a popular trend that can add to the resale value of your property. However, it can be a costly project. Sandy Turner from Bathroom Bizarre offers some tips and advice that will help you get the most out of your bathroom budget.

What can you afford?

Sandy says that the first and most important aspect of any bathroom remodelling project, is to do your homework and work out an accurate budget: “Conduct a thorough and honest examination of your finances to reveal just how much you can afford to spend on the remodelling project in total.”

She also says that it is important to know what the maximum is that you can spend on the renovation without over-capitalising on your property: “Ask an estate agent to give you an estimate on what a bathroom remodel will add to the resale value of your home, add it to what you bought the property for and then compare this figure to the price of other similar homes in your area to work out what you can spend.”

What are your reasons?

Different homeowners remodel their bathrooms for different reasons, which will affect the overall design and budget of the project, says Sandy: “The rule of thumb is that if you are going to remain in your home for five years or less, then any bathroom remodelling project needs to be looked at as an investment that will offer you returns when you sell your property. In these cases, the fittings and fixtures you choose should be of a more commercially appreciated design and colour, so that the room appeals to the broadest segment of buyers. Generally speaking, bathrooms offer an impressive 60% to 75% return on investment with regards to money spent.

“If however, you are intending to live in your home for five years or more, then the project can be designed around more personal preferences, such as your choice of colours, styles and designs that will best accommodate you and your family’s needs. Having said that however, renovating your bathroom is a sizeable investment, so to increase any bathroom’s longevity, it is best to choose a style that won’t date very quickly – something with timeless appeal,” explains Sandy.

Working out your budget

Now the real work begins – at this stage, you need to find out what everything costs, explains Sandy: “First things first, you will need to choose and cost out all the materials, fittings and fixtures that you want to install in your new bathroom. You will need to be very thorough here, and include everything you will need – from bathroom fittings and fixtures, to accessories, lighting, window treatments and tiles. Also, don’t forget to include the price of all the plumbing, electrical and building materials that you will need in order to install these items, such as pipes, grouting, wiring, etc.”

Aside from the cost of all the fittings, fixtures, materials and tiles, don’t forget to add in the cost of the labour for the plumbing, tiling and electrical work: “The labour costs usually comprise approximately one third of the project’s total costs, but it is best to get a written quote from various plumbers, tilers and electricians who will be able to tell you exactly what they will charge for the job at hand. Also, if you are going to do major building alterations to change the size or shape of the bathroom, it is best to get a building contractor in to quote on what the alteration will cost you and include this total in your budget.”

On getting quotes, Sandy says that it is essential to shop around: “It is important to get a few quotes and compare them. It is best to make your choice on word-of-mouth referrals of reputable contractors, compared to merely choosing on price, as fixing up a bad job will end up costing you a lot more in the long run. Ask all the contractors for the names and numbers of past clients that you could possibly phone up and see what they thought of their service and the job they did before you make your final choice.”

The last thing that needs to be included in your budget is an emergency fund that can be set aside for any potential problems that may arise: “When it comes to plumbing, there can be all sorts of budget-busting surprises lurking behind the walls and floor. Also, breakages can also occur and need to be factored in. Setting aside 10% of your entire budget will usually cover any of these eventualities. At the end of the project, if you haven’t used it, you can always spend the money on other little luxuries, such as new bath towels for example.”

How you can save money

The cost of a bathroom remodelling project can vary greatly – depending on what is done and the cost of the fittings, fixtures and materials used. However, Sandy says that there are ways you can save money – they include:

Sticking to the original layout: Moving lights or plumbing, and making building alterations, such as inserting windows or breaking down walls, will add a substantial amount to the end cost. For the most cost-effective way of remodelling your bathroom, keep its original layout and floor plan, and just change all the fittings, fixtures and tiles.

Choosing wisely: It’s the little luxuries and unique additions to any bathroom that can make or break its end appeal, and it is these items that usually cost the most. However, since most bathrooms are relatively small, you can use these items cleverly for maximum effect. For example, if you are lusting after a particularly expensive mosaic tile, consider using these as accents in amongst more pedestrian and less expensive tiles. Also, choose expensive vanity countertops for a stylish aesthetic appeal – the area is relatively small, so you can really go to town here and use marble, granite or glass without breaking the bank.

Update your shower: Throw away your shower curtain and replace it with a glass shower screen for a more updated and contemporary look. Complete the shower update by replacing the old shower rose with a newer and more water-efficient model.

Avoid change orders: Last minute changes, called “change orders”, waste time and can break your budget. Be sure of what you want from the outset and avoid these at all costs.

Shop around: You will be amazed at how the cost of items can vary from shop to shop – be sure to take your time selecting where to buy from and shop around for the best price out there. You can save yourself considerable time and effort by doing your costing, sourcing and shopping online.