Darren Palmer's Top Tips To Bathroom Riches
Understanding where to make improvements is key
Recently I carried out a renovation of my own apartment in North Bondi. There was space, a great location and a small strata block of 4 giving the apartment plenty of good value points to start with. My goal however was to maximize every opportunity in the apartment so I could upgrade, sell and move onto a bigger property.
What I found when I was researching the value of the apartment was that 3 bedroom apartments that were 100sqm like mine were all more valuable if they had two bathrooms. My apartment only had one, but it also had a large hallway running through the two sides of the floorplan. In the layout I found an opportunity to add in another bathroom to create more value.
Reconfiguring Your Space
Looking at wasted space in a floor plan and reconfiguring so you can fit more in without loosing anything is another way to wring every dollar out of a property. It’s no good adding something in if it takes away from living space. The idea in improving is to make the property look & function better and feel more inviting. If you steal from one room at the expense of the other you can end up feeling cramped and really damage the feeling and livability.
The expense of the investment to create two bathrooms is considerable so it is absolutely necessary for you to quote the project and research whether you’ll be able to recoup and profit from your improvements by looking at the comparable sales in the area.
That said, in my apartment the exercise was to be a profitable and very successful one.
Getting More Bang For Your Buck
The key to any good improvement is maximizing the value for your money, or bang for your buck. There are several cost factors in improvement to consider – labour costs (trades people and labourers), design cost (designers, drafts people, documentation) , material cost (tiles, accessories, tapware, PC items like bath, basin, toilet etc, appliances such as extractors, heaters, underfloor heating & inclusions such as skylights) and service costs (engineers, council, certifiers, builders margin, skip bins, rubbish removal, storage, delivery fees).
A great way I managed to keep costs down in my renovation was to look at the simplest way to fit the extra bathroom in linking the plumbing to the existing plumbing exit points in the building. This one act saved me the issue of having to gain access into my downstairs neighbour’s apartment as well as providing the simplest plumbing solution which in turn saved labour costs and time.
Materials wise I focused my attention on one expensive feature, the beautiful silver travertine floor, and saved money on the basic 300x600 matt white wall tile. The floor tile was around $75 per square meter plus sealant but the wall tile, bought at TFO.com.au was only around $15 per square meter. The saving from one allowed me to spend more on the other.
Mirror is a relatively inexpensive bathroom consideration; a wall of mirror generally will cost less than the labour and materials to tile the same space. It is also relatively quick to install and can be applied over existing tiles if the waterproofing is still intact and in good condition. They also add to the illusion of space, which is desirable in any bathroom.
Storage and Lighting
Storage and lighting are something that I judge firmly on The Block so I was diligent to be sure there was both face level storage, squeezed into the old doorway in one instance and built into the cavity wall in the other, as well as under bench storage for larger items like hair dryers, toilet paper and the like. I was also able to fit in storage above the toilet cistern realizing literally every square centimeter of opportunity in the bathrooms.
The main bathroom had a shower in bath as I noticed that the apartments in demand in the area were mostly sought after by families. If you have children or animals you’ll know you can’t get by without at least a modestly sized bath tub.
Good Use of Space
As the ensuite was designed to service two people, the shower had two overhead shower heads as well as a handheld. I have had feedback from female clients in the past that they aren’t always fond of getting their hair wet every time they shower so an option to manage that is advisable. This could be a handheld or a shower head on a rail allowing the user to move the water below the hairline. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t cut it to just hand out a showercap when you sell your property so thinking of these functionality constraints will pay off at sale time.
Lighting wise, be sure that you provide enough light for ladies to apply makeup without shadowing. The best way to do this is to have a light either above the tap/plughole or have light shining from directly in front. Any lighting in a bathroom needs to be able to be dimmed so any midnight bathroom trips don’t leave you temporarily blinded. Another great way to manage this issue is to have several different light sources including some ambient light such as warm LED strips under the shaving cabinet or under the under bench storage. Set up a sensor in the doorway connected to the ambient light and you can have a great, soft, middle of the night solution. At other times the ambient light just helps to add to the mood and is also just the right level of light to enjoy a long soak in the bath.
Pay attention to the lines of your tap ware, door hardware and accessories. I used Parisi for all three which, by using the same supplier, I was able to match up rounded edges with rounded edges and be sure that the chrome finish would be the same colour and consistency. It’s important to make sure that the lines, material and finish of all of your inclusions matches. The basin and bath need to be the same line (rectangles with rounded corners in my case) and material, whether they be round, square, gloss or matt. Toilet pans more often than not are gloss white on the outside but make sure they at least have the same line as the basin and bath. Parisi do have some new toilet pans coming that have matt exteriors to match matt baths and basins FYI.
A Few Finishing Points
- Make sure any shower space is no smaller than 900x900. Expanding only one of these measurements though will give a greater feeling of luxury.
- A toilet pan usually sits within a space of around 800x800 to allow for 250mm from the side of the pan to any adjoining surfaces like walls or bath hobs.
- Creating a square of space on the floor, around 1.5m – 2m square will give you a more usable room by providing space to move around as well as giving better visual space.
- Position towel rails and hooks within arms reach
- Create a space to put your clean clothes
- A place to sit whilst your children are bathing is a great consideration
- Strip drains look better than standard drains, tile insert drains are even better still
- Frameless shower screens like the ones in my renovation supplied by Wet Design have a neater, cleaner, more contemporary look
- Finally consider the location of the tapware so it’s easy to turn on but stay dry, light switches should be put in sensible locations, Power Points need to be in positions that adhere to BCA standards by staying away from water sources, but also need to function. Locating in face level storage to charge tooth brushes and shavers is a good idea. Make sure you provide power for all the appliances someone would need, such as hair straighteners and dryers.
Considering all of the above and looking for every opportunity to save whilst not affecting the overall finish and appeal of the bathroom is a balancing act. Striking the right balance though will leave you with a valuable and beautiful result.