Bathroom Design, Layout, Renovation

By: Building Guide  06-Dec-2011

Another exciting part of the project is creating your bathroom. The kind of environment you want your bathroom to have is dictated by materials, space and finish.

  • Tiles are an obvious choice of material here but wooden or concrete floors and painted walls have their place (carpet is not recommended, however).
  • The fashion is for larger tiles rather than smaller and these help convey a sense of a larger space when the room in small; conversely, small mosaic tiles are still very fashionable and work well in small spaces, too.
  • Fixtures come in a range of materials – examine the performance characteristics before making decisions.
  • Tapware is important to the look and feel of your room and modern built retro designs are an option along with modern designs; consider large mirrors to make small bathrooms look bigger.
  • Don’t forget ventilation and heating – especially underfloor heating (very nice in the winter!) and the room must be able to be fully dry within 30 minutes.
  • The towel rail should be as big as you can afford and fit – more people, more towels.
  • The waterproofing is essential so don’t scrimp – even though you can’t see it, incorrect application will cost you a fortune in repairs.
  • Showers should be tempered or toughened glass to NZ Standard. If using imported products, ensure the glass is up to standard.
  • Lighting is important, from task lighting for makeup application, to soft non-directional lighting for relaxing baths or midnight visits.
  • Can you fit two basins in, or one large on with two taps, so that two people can use the basin at the same time?
  • Is the tapware correct for your water pressure - check with your plumber before buying?
  • Does the layout work – can you open the shower door without hitting anything, or bend over the sink without bouncing off the wall behind you?
  • Is access to the shower and bath easy? Does the door open the right way?
  • Do you have sufficient storage for everything you want to keep in the bathroom (makeup, first aid, personal products, medicines (not recommended because of temperature and moisture fluctuations), bathroom supplies)

Bathroom Renovations

When it comes to plumbing, electrical and sanitary connections there is a real risk of causing accidental damage to your property which may not be covered by your home insurance unless you have taken separate renovation cover. Using a registered builder means you will be covered by their public liability insurance against any accidental damage and they will provide a guarantee for their workmanship.

Before hiring a builder, make sure they are trade qualified, ask to see a copy of their insurance policy, ensure it covers all subcontractors working on the project and clarify the terms of the guarantee they offer. Something as simple as a stray nail through a water pipe can take months to show up and can quickly turn into a very expensive problem, so make sure you’re covered.

There are obvious dangers working with electrical fittings if you are not qualified and especially so in bathrooms.

Electrical work should only be carried out by a registered electrician

who will provide a certificate of compliance for their work. Keep yourself and your family safe and leave the electrics to the experts.

Plumbing might seem straight forward to some and although you’re unlikely to put yourself in any danger, it’s easy to get it wrong. Any faults with the plumbing may go unnoticed for some time while they do damage behind new wall and floor coverings which then must be removed and reinstalled to be able to fix the problem.

Effective waterproofing is critical to protect the structural elements of your house from the all the water that ends up on bathroom floors, especially if you’re planning a tile shower. We have seen many examples of damage behind walls and under floors caused by inadequate or nonexistent waterproofing. It pays to uses a licensed applicator who will provide a producer’s statement for their work.

Painting and tiling are two areas you can take on yourself. Be sure to select a paint which is suitable for wet areas and mould resistant. When tiling floors or showers you must be sure that the waterproofing applicator’s guarantee will still be valid if you do the tiling. This can be a sensitive area because if a problem occurs the waterproofing applicator may argue that they are not to blame because the waterproofing membrane was damaged during the tiling installation and it can be very difficult to prove who is at fault. The best way to avoid a potential problem is to use a contractor who will waterproof and tile and provide a guarantee for both.

It’s always tough living through a bathroom renovation, especially if there is only one bathroom in the house. Even if you have the skills to take on the project it pays to consider how much time you can devote to it, how long it will therefore take to complete and how the rest of the household will be affected. Even using qualified tradesmen and managing the project yourself, it can be tricky to co-ordinate all the various trades required to ensure the budget and the timeline don’t blow out. To avoid the stress altogether, use a bathroom specialist who can provide complete project management, a fixed price and a guaranteed completion date. The potential savings don’t always outweigh the financial risk and stress you take on doing it yourself.

And when it comes to selling your property, providing guarantees and producer’s statements to show renovation work was undertaken by qualified tradesmen not only adds value, but also provides potential buyers the of comfort of knowing the bathroom will look and perform as well as it does today for many years to come.

Other products and services from Building Guide


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Work with your chosen professional reasonably early in your planning, as their expertise and knowledge can save you time and money and give you what you want. The control of water around your house gives you the water where you need it, at the right temperature and the right time - without leaking.


Master Builders, Certified Builders, Independent Builders

There are specialist project management companies and, while this maybe a bit more expensive, this can take many of the hassles out of the whole building process and will help ensure you have a quality job. You may choose to have your architect or designer stay on as full project manager or you may have an arrangement where your builder is the project manager and the designer takes on an overview role.


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Financing Your Build

Once you are happy with the building contract arrange for a copy of this to be taken to your finance professional so finance can be confirmed. This is where an independent property valuer reports to the lender on what the property will be worth once complete. Arrange finance to purchase a section and have preapproved finance in place to build the home.