Create a new Bathroom for £4,000!

publication date: Jun 12, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

In the UK, on average, people spend around £4,000 on fitting a new bathroom or major bathroom renovations. However, be warned it’s easy to get carried away with accessories that you don’t really need, so beware the very good bathroom salesman, who is likely to be able to get you to spend almost double what you originally planned. Yet if you shop around, there is no need to spend any more to achieve the bathroom of your dreams.

If you need to create a bathroom from scratch, then the first thing to work out is where you are going to put it. There are usually two options, firstly you might be taking space from an existing room, effectively creating an ensuite or you may be creating the bathroom from a new space, such as another room in the house, or a new bathroom in an extension or loft conversion.

Where do you start?
It’s better to try to create a bathroom either above, below or at least near existing waste and water pipes. It’s not impossible to create a bathroom wherever you want and you can even use a Saniflo system if it’s not possible or practical to pipe the waste/water to where you want the bathroom.  However, this could substantially increase the cost of your project, meaning you have to cut your budget elsewhere.

Replacing an existing bathroom
The first thing to do is take a look (or a bath/shower!) in your current bathroom and work out what you like and don’t like about it. Is it easy to navigate around? What do you like about the colour scheme? Is light maximised?

What do you want from your new bathroom?
Whether existing or a new ensuite or bathroom, there are lots of questions you need to think about answering:-

1. Do you want the loo and bathroom together or separate?
2. Do you want a shower within the bathroom or separate? Are you into bidets or not?
3. What sort of shower do you want, the best rain shower you can get, or something that’s more environmentally friendly?
4. Do you want water pumped into your shower from the mains, or is an electric shower more practical? 
5. Is a wet room practical or do you need something with a bit more thought if a member of your family is disabled or unsteady on their feet?
6. What sort of bath do you want? Spa? Acrylic? Roll Top?
7. Do you need a shaver socket?

Don’t forget about the lighting too, clever lighting can ensure you have bright light when required, or mood lighting for when you need a ‘spa’ moment! These days it’s also possible to blow out on a TV and sound system, but do you really need it or would you prefer a gadget free zone?

Make a plan of your current space or existing bathroom
Start with a piece of paper, ideally graph paper, and draw out the layout of your current bathroom, or what you would like where in the new space. Take measurements, as accurately as you can, including where the radiator, any electric points (shaver sockets) and the windows are (or you’d like them to be). You’ll also need to highlight where the nearest waste pipe (ie the big pipe coming down from the back of an existing toilet) is and any water pipes (again check the kitchen and any other bathroom pipes).

Call a plumber and visit the retailers – but beware of the salesmen!
It’s worth contacting two or more plumbers (and a builder if you need to create new walls etc) to ask their advice and cost as well as visiting specialist bathroom retailers and the local DIY stores. This way you can see what value for money you can get and you’ll also find that some outlets are best value for taps, others for baths, some for showers, so you can sometimes get a better deal if you mix and match.

With both plumbers and DIY outlets or retailers, make sure that you are quoted labour and material costs separately. You may need help from an electrician as well as a plumber, but you’ll need an electrician that is ‘Part P registered' to work on any electrics within your home.

If you are not used to dealing with very good salesmen, the first rule to remember is don’t budge on your budget. The second thing is not to sign on the dotted line on a first or even a second visit. Buying a bathroom in parts as opposed to a whole can save you hundreds and even thousands of pounds – they’ll soon get the message!

Alternatively negotiate very hard. Go with all the bathroom they suggest and when they tell it’ll cost twice your budget, say that’s great, what discount can you give? Say you want the bathroom they suggest, but only have £4,000 and not a penny more. Be warned! Don’t fall for their financing packages, unless they are at 0% interest. Even then, only borrow what you can afford to pay now ie £4,000 (if that’s for creating the room as well as the bathroom fixtures and fittings).

Check who is installing the bathroom!
It’s up to you how to fit your bathroom. You can do it yourself, but you need to have some DIY experience, especially if there is work required to build a new room and you have to move pipework etc.  You will need expert help for the plumbing and electrics. Make sure electricians are ‘Part P registered’ and plumbers working on gas are ‘Gas Safe Registered’.

Get the right certificates!
Any gas or electric work will require a certificate from the person carrying out the work. Make sure you get a copy of these certificates and don’t pay the tradesmen until you do. If you don’t, you may not be able to sell your home in the future without them.

Get a helping hand with our new Renovating a Property Service for just £19.99!

Property expert, Kate Faulkner, has joined forces with B&Q and other industry experts to offer a unique service, where you purchase a ‘property project pack’ that gives you:-
  • An A4 ‘how to’ guide (approx 80 pages), containing Dos and Don’ts, Factsheets, Checklists, Handy Tips and Forms
  • Access to Kate and her team, by phone and email, for any queries you might have during your project.

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