Renovating your Bathroom

  • Posted: Jul 24, 2008
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Renovating your Bathroom

Bathrooms are a little like cars. Compact models condense the basic functions into an economical package. The larger models put a premium on spaciousness and luxury and the mid-of-the-range versions try to balance cost and comfort. As with cars, you generally pay more for a larger bathroom, but you also have more options. Area size, however, isn’t always key; bathrooms of all sizes can be functional and stylish. The challenge is to let your personal preferences drive your design without exceeding the space available and budget limits.

Any bathroom renovation is based on planning and selection of fixtures. On the planning side, you may not have the space for a bath the size of a Hummer, but perhaps you can find the extra space you need to be comfortable. In the same way, your budget may not allow for luxuries such as his and hers steam showers, but standard equipment well-chosen can make a huge difference.


In planning and budgeting for a bathroom upgrade, you should start by determining how much space you have. Whether you are renovating your existing bathroom space, extending a little or you have the luxury of starting from scratch by adding on or by converting another room, your bathroom’s overall shape and size will likely fall into one of three categories:

1. Standard Bathroom:
● A standard size bathroom is a rectangle starting at approximately 1,5m x 2m 1,5m x 3m and can be as big as 2m x 3m or 2,5m x 3m. In a standard sized bathroom there is space for a basin with a vanity, a toilet, a bath tub and maybe a small separate shower.

2. Guest Toilet:
● A guest toilet is a square half-bathroom, generally 1m x 1,5m, housing just the essentials; a basin and a toilet.

3. Master Bathroom:
● A master bathroom is large and roomy, often as big as 30 square metres or more and normally on suite. The extra space allows for indulgences such as a large freestanding bath tub, a dual shower, separate vanities, a sitting area with large furniture pieces, storage and large windows or skylights. The shape of the master bathroom can vary as it is rather a large area.

Fitting and Fixtures

No matter what the actual dimensions of your bathroom, it’s the arrangement of the fixtures within the bathroom that determines how big or how small the room feels. A modestly sized bath tub smartly configured can feel spacious, while a large bath tub poorly planned can feel cramped. Ensure that there is enough space around and in front of the toilet bowl this will make sitting on the throne a comfortable experience. The height of the basin should fit the user, especially if you are taller or shorter than most people. For double-bowl vanities make sure there is enough space between the two. A bath tub should be large enough to be used comfortably. Shower doors should always open outwards into the bathroom and should be big enough to be used with ease.

Quick tips:
● If you have a large home (300m² or more) or you would like to install the latest in tap technology then you will need to install a high pressure geyser (600KPA).
● Choose flooring that is slip-resistant and avoid stairs in the bathroom.
● Make sure that any glass in the bath or shower has been tempered to strengthen it.
● Install the toilet paper holder within reach of the person sitting on the toilet.
● All electrical outlets, switches and lights need to be projected against moisture.
● Both task and atmosphere lighting is important in the bathroom, so plan well.

Bathroom Costs

Although the bathroom is usually the smallest room in the house, the cost of renovating it can be expensive. But according to Ooba, bathroom renovations can generate a return on investment of between 60-80%. If, for example, you spend R10 000 on your bathroom renovations, this could increase the total value of your home by up to R18 000. How much you spend on your bathroom depends on what fixtures, fittings, surfaces and accessories you choose and how much labour is involved.

1. Labour
● Installation will account for nearly a quarter of the total cost, because jobs such as plumbing and tiling are quite labour intensive. Labour costs will be even higher if you add a new bathroom or you’re moving fixtures around. You can save money by doing the work yourself, but be realistic about your skill and experience. Fixtures, wiring and plumbing connections must meet building standards and codes. So, unless you’re completely confident in your abilities, let a professional handle the main work and limit your contribution to prep work and finishing, where you can still save money, but the skill requirements are lower. That being said, the cost of labour is definitely not the place to save money. In fact, hiring a good contractor is the key to getting the most for your money. Paying a little extra for the experience, skill and efficiency will reap benefits for years to come.

2. Products
● Product choices are where you’ll make or break your budget. You can buy the basic fixtures – basin, toilet and bath tub – for a few thousand rand, or you can spend tens of thousands on just one item. The best advice is to buy the best quality you can afford, especially with the basic fixtures, which should perform dependably for a number of years.

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