What you need to know before refurbishing your bathroom

Thinking of refurbishing your bathroom? Before you get started find out about the regulations, costs and latest bathroom designs here.

refurbishing your bathroom

Plan your bathroom design carefully before
you refurbish

Refurbishing your bathroom is a great way to improve the value and comfort of your home, here are some things to consider before you begin:

Choosing a bathtub

A tub is often the focal point of any bathroom so consider carefully the size, shape and style you wish to install, depending on the dimensions of your bathroom. Tubs tend to come in either free-standing, corner or basic rectangular designs with a standard depth of 372mm. Bath materials range from acrylic to stone or cast iron.

If you want an even more luxurious option then a spa bath or a whirlpool is ideal. You can choose to convert a standard bathtub into a spa bath by installing jets; extra features such as rotating speed adjusters and underwater lights can be fitted.

Cost of a bathtub – a budget rectangular bath from Homebase costs around £179 whereas luxury Bette Baths are made from coated steel which repels dirt; these come in freestanding or roll top models. The BetteHome Oval Comfort freestanding bath costs £1,297. A spa bath costs between £800 and £3,000.

Choosing a shower

If you only have a small bathroom the best idea is to install a shower over your bath with a good quality screen. If you’re lucky enough to have a large space, a separate shower or even a wet room is ideal. Water saving shower heads are a must and needn’t ruin your bathing experience, most are designed now to feel stronger than they actually are. If necessary, you may need to install an electric shower which costs more to run.

Cost of a shower – Which? says that a power shower can cost up to £700 while a mixer shower is priced between £50 and £600. An electric shower comes in at £50 to £200.

Choosing a toilet

Toilets come in a variety of styles, from simple one piece models to two piece options or wall hung pans. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), about 30% of all water used in buildings is flushed straight down the toilet each day. To help combat this and keep your water bills down, choose a dual flush or low flush toilet which saves around six litres of water compared to traditional models. You could also install a cistern replacement device which can save 50% of water per flush. To go even more eco, a rainwater harvesting system or grey water recycling system reuses rainwater to flush your loo.

Cost of a toilet – toilets from Homebase costs between £79.99 and £379; a dual flush or low flush option may be priced around the top end of this scale. A cistern replacement device only costs around £20 whereas a rainwater harvesting system can cost between £2,000 and £3,000, says the UK Rainwater Harvesting Association.

Luxury Bath

If you have the space, a luxury bath
is a great addition

Choosing a basin

Basins are also available in various sizes, materials, colours and shapes to suit your bathroom design. Choosing unusual taps is a great way to personalise your sink; again, water saving taps are a good idea and are widely available. If your sink doesn’t already have water regulating or aerated taps then you can easily fit them.

Cost of a basin – ranges from as little as £50 to £200, according to Homebase. Low-flow taps may be slightly more expensive than standard options.

Choosing bathroom flooring

Flooring in your bathroom needs to be functional, safe and attractive. Stone such as marble or granite looks great and once sealed is a waterproof and long-lasting option; but it can be cold, slippery and expensive. Porcelain is a cheaper, low-maintenance alternative to stone whereas linoleum is more eco-friendly as it’s made from natural materials like linseed oil. You could even go with engineered wood if you really like; just make sure it’s made to withstand damp.

Cost of bathroom flooring – marble costs around £46.00 per square metre from Floors of Stone. Homebase sell an eight pack of porcelain tiles for £22.99 and linoleum between £20 and £30 per square metre. Engineered wood is priced at £22.50 per square metre from woodandbeyond.com.

Choosing bathroom lighting

Firstly, try and utilise any natural light as best you can, installing blinds or shutters. As well as a standard overhead light, downlights or spotlights can be installed around mirrors or on cupboards – taps that change the colour of the water are even available.

Cost of bathroom lighting – Ikea sell bathroom lights from £25 upwards; a downlight from Homebase costs from £8.

Choosing bathroom storage and decoration

Storage is important, particularly in small bathrooms, so use clever under-sink or corner cabinets. Built-in vanity units are good and come in a range of styles; free-standing cabinets are a cheaper alternative. When decorating your bathroom pay attention to the details, for instance match your shower curtains to the blinds and add interesting soap dishes or ornaments. Paint or tile for the walls is the most practical option. Prices for decorating your bathroom will vary depending on your taste and the fittings you choose to use.

towel rail

A heated towel rail is a
space-saving alternative
to radiators

Choosing bathroom heating

It’s essential that you keep your bathroom warm and inviting, but rather than relying on traditional radiators you can save space by installing a heated towel rail. Underfloor heating is also a good choice for the bathroom, drying the floor quickly and saving you an average of around 25 – 30% on your fuel bills.

Cost of bathroom heating – a heated towel rail from Homebase costs from £50. Prices for underfloor heating will vary depending on whether you choose an electric or water-fed system; but on average, costs about £10,000.

Building regulations for bathrooms

You’ll need to adhere to the following building regulations when refurbishing your bathroom:

Part H – drainage and waste disposal: this includes making sure that waste pipes and drainage run downhill from appliances to outlets; otherwise you will need to install a pump system like a Saniflow. You will also need to follow guidelines from the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme which prevent water wastage, contamination and misuse.

Part F- ventilation: these regulations state that your bathroom must be well ventilated to prevent condensation damp and mould. You can have a window, extractor fan or both installed; new fans must extract 15 litres per minute and run for 15 minutes after the light has been turned off.

Part P- electrical safety: dodgy bathroom electrics can be fatal so regulations specify maximum voltage levels for different areas and state that switches must be placed outside the bathroom or be pull-chord operated.

Part A – structural safety: this is important if you are installing a brand new bathroom or extensively refurbishing; make sure, for instance, that the floor can hold the weight of your bathroom suite.

Who you need to hire when refurbishing your bathroom

When refurbishing your bathroom it’s best to hire a professional to fit everything so that it’s safe, adheres to regulations and works as well as possible. Make sure that you ask for insurance credentials, references and proof of your tradesperson’s qualifications before you hire. It may be wise to hire someone registered with a self-assessment scheme such as the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) or the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) so that you don’t have to independently apply for building regulation approval.

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