Bathrooms on a budget

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am


Renovating a bathroom within a budget can be difficult at the best of times. But how do you make wise decisions and avoid blowing the funds on intricate tile work, and having to compromise on the shower or basin?

The American National Kitchen and Bath Association breaks down remodelling costs to give an idea of how much should be dedicated towards labour and what should be spent on features.

It recommends design fees to cost around 4 per cent; installation 20 per cent; fixtures 15 per cent; cabinetry and hardware 16 per cent; benchtops 7 per cent; lighting and ventilation 5 per cent; flooring 9 per cent; doors and windows 4 per cent; walls and ceilings 5 per cent; taps and plumbing 14 per cent; and other costs 1 per cent.

When you work on a budget with your designer or contractor, ask them to supply a breakdown of costs. Of course, there are variables depending on the existing bathroom, whether you are installing a new bathroom or just giving it a freshen-up, and the local economy.

If you are looking for areas to save, experts always recommend cutting on tile costs by going for something economical, such as simple porcelain. If you must have beautiful tiles, try selecting just a section of bathroom to display them. A good choice would be the vanity backsplash or a wall in the shower.

It is a good idea for flooring to be slip resistant. Tiles that have a lot of texture will give you more traction, as will larger grout lines in the shower. If you want to splurge here, heated floor mats laid under the tile are surprisingly inexpensive and add a luxurious, spa-like feel.

There are also savings to be made on benchtops. The costs are considerably lower on a patterned and textured laminate, as opposed to something like quartzite, also known as CesarStone.

When it comes to choosing plumbing fixtures, it can be difficult to decide what to spend money on, especially with the array of choices on offer, from body sprays or a rain shower head, to colour therapy and even shower seating.

The selection will depend on how you plan to use the space. But the key to long-lasting fixtures is to not compromise on quality.

The higher the quality, the better the flow and the longer the finish will last without peeling off.

More people are also opting for one basin instead of two - that means less cost plus more space saved for an attractive and useful countertop.

Putting looks aside, function is the number one priority for a bathroom. If your toilet doesn't flush and the taps leak, then it doesn't really matter how much you have spent.