Planning your Bathroom Design

Why use an Interior Designer for your bathroom design project?

In most cases, bathrooms have a very significant impact on the resale value of your house. A bathroom with a wow factor is as much about investing in your asset to improve the value of your house as something that you can enjoy in the everyday. A designer will pay for itself in terms of the value added to your investment.

A good bathroom designer will meet with you to establish your tastes, requirements and wish list, your budget level (basic, mid level or all the bells and whistles) to create a bathroom design that meets your needs & lifestyle. They will address the practical issues of designing a room that ticks all the boxes for you, and is stunningly expertly finished, while addressing safety & durability.

It is important to understand at the outset that a builder CANNOT provide a cost for a bathroom without a bathroom design, plans & elevations and a schedule of fixtures & finishes; there are too many interconnecting parts, services co-ordination, separate trades to co-ordinate, custom joinery and choices in fixtures and finishes to make this possible. Then again, the design also needs to suit the space available, and any existing services connections. The more effort that is put into forward planning at the front end will minimise any variations impacting on cost and time during construction. If you try to get estimates for a project from different builders without proper documentation you have no way of comparing like for like, or quality.

Engaging an independent designer allows you to be more in control of the design & construction process. The designer will offer you more choices than a builder will (builders tend to like to use certain suppliers). The designer will provide a documentation package that you can have costed by multiple builders to get a like for like comparison. It provides you with an independent person to check on the build at various stages and provide a defects inspection and report at the end, which you can then take back to the builder to ensure that those last little niggly bits get dealt with.

Where space is at a premium, is when the services of an interior designer really comes into their own. The up-front planning stage is a must to get the layout right before even considering the finishes & fixtures. The sketch plan below demonstrates the finesse that goes into making a bathroom, toilet and laundry work and flow in a small area. A great interior designer can achieve this, whilst ensuring the bathroom still looks spacious.

Your interior designer will help you explore different colours, materials and finishes, to nut out which are right for your project. They’ll help you navigate the endless choices in bathroom fixtures to select what will work for your project and your budget level.

Bathroom & Laundry – Layout option 1

It’s worth the extra expense of hiring an interior designer who can provide elevations and 3D views of your bathroom in Revit. Standard a documentation package will offer only plans and schedules. The key to a comprehensive and well co-ordinated set of documentation that provides enough information for a builder to quote from should also include elevations & custom joinery drawings (at a minimum of 1:20 scale) and a ceiling plan. Anything less than this will leave gaps in the information that may then translate to incomplete quotes. 3D perspective views in Revit provide you with the visual translation of the working drawings; clients are often not familiar with reading plans and elevations – these will give you the confidence that you and your designer have developed a bathroom design that you’ll love.

Deciding where to Budget

The bathroom & kitchen are generally the most costly rooms in the house to build or renovate, however there are easy ways for you to take control of the budget when installing a bathroom. If you’ve already decided to hire an interior designer for your bathroom design project then you’ve already saved money in reducing unforeseen expenses by creating a well designed and documented set of drawings that you can obtain competitive pricing on.

Firstly, you’ll separate wants from needs. Your bathroom designer can help you assess how much of the bathroom you need to change; the more you change, the more expensive the project will be. If you make any changes after construction commences or because you don’t have a clearly documented design, then you will face an increase in costs.

Consider maintaining the current layout & major elements such as the bath shower, vanity and toilet in their current location, whilst replacing fixtures & fittings in order to reduce plumbing costs.

The choice of materials used for tiling & vanity finishes has a significant impact upon your budget, practicality, the look and feel of the space, as well as on the long term durability of surfaces; your designer can guide you, but ultimately the final decision will remain with you. In this instance, it’s about finding the right balance of priority for you between all these factors.

Custom made or off-the-shelf vanities? There is now a wide variety of ready-made vanities available from bathroom fixture suppliers in a range of sizes, styles and finishes to suit your needs. Custom made joinery comes into its own if you’re looking for something unique in terms of style, something to fit in a particular space, or want to include heaps of extra storage.

There is a distinct difference in the quality of fixtures available on the market. Consider not only the price point, but if you have to replace items such as tapware in future, may have to replace all the tap ware in the room if consistency of look is important to you, and good tapware can be expensive. Another example are baths – they can vary greatly in cost & quality also; they may look very similar, but a good bath will maintain water temperature for longer than a budget driven option.

When considering grout, there are 2 distinct types: standard and epoxy. Standard grout is cheaper to install, however this is not something you should consider as a way to budget in your bathroom. Consider using epoxy grout in the bathroom; while it is more costly to install (it takes longer to install due to the nature of the product), you’ll end up with a much better wearing, longer lasting and easier to clean finish. See this blog post for my personal experience in this.

Carefully consider your long term goals before reusing existing elements, fixtures or fittings in a new design. Designers, builders and contractors may be able to reuse various items, however will not take any responsibility if things go wrong; for example if the item is old, and breaks not long after reinstallation, or is not quite compatible with the design, or if installation & maintenance information is no longer available for that item. You may find yourself paying more to rectify the situation. Is the risk worth the cost saving?