Our Top Ten Tips for an Economy Bathroom Design and Installation project
1) Don’t be overly ambitious with your bathroom design:- The new bath/shower/wc/basin should be positioned almost exactly where the old units were positioned:- remember that professional labour costs account for at least 70% of an economy bathroom re-fit and running new drainage and water supply pipe-work is time consuming and involves extra material costs
2) Before you spend any money on tiles and fittings, hire an all-trades professional fitting team:- There are no savings to be made in flooding out your downstairs neighbour through botched DIY or through cash in hand and “fly by night” cowboys:- If your carefully selected and vetted professional outfit does have an unlikely but potentially expensive accident, then the company insurance ( check this out before hiring them) will cover the costs involved:- Pre selection will also allow you to involve the experts in the design and vital material/fittings selection process
3) Negotiate a fixed price with your contractor:- On a labour only basis, and at this time ( outwith the London area) it is possible to hire a good all trades contractor skilled in plumbing, builder work, woodwork, plastering, tiling, decorating and electrical work as necessary for about 1600-2300 pounds per standard bathroom inclusive of all works as necessary:- Make sure that your contract is in writing and is signed and agreed by both parties. There is no need for a fancy or legally drafted contract:- An exchange of clearly and simply expressed handwritten letters or Emails will constitute a binding agreement in any small claims court if required. Careful selection of your contractor should ensure that legal proceedings are a very unlikely outcome of any project, but a properly constituted contract is a necessary and sensible insurance for any business transaction.For more information, visit their website at bathroom installs.
4) Shop around for your own sanitary fittings:- There are some fantastic deals to be had out there:- For example, and at the time of writing, B&Q has an excellent offer on a full “Sandringham” suite by Armitage Shanks Ltd (inclusive of bath, basin/pedestal/wc and taps) All for less than 200 pounds ( usual list price over 600 pounds):- If you see a “named brand” shower in a big store don’t buy it but check out comparative deals on line for a better deal.
5) If you have a “combi” boiler in your house you will find that a thermostatic valve shower or “power shower” as it is sometimes known, is probably the cheapest and definitely (performance wise) the best option:- remember to consult with your contractor as to which type to get:- These showers can have an exposed or concealed valve depending on what kind of walls you have:- When selecting an electrical shower, remember that the new more powerful showers available today ( rated up to and beyond 11KW ) will need a larger cable and mains circuit breaker installed by a qualified electrician:- Using a similarly rated shower to the existing shower can save you hundreds of pounds in rewiring costs.
6) The most commonly used tiles by far are ceramic ( as opposed to porcelain, slate or natural stone) they are also usually the cheapest to lay as they do not require specialist adhesives, cutting or drilling. Some natural stone products also require periodic sealing to maintain their condition. It is vital that you consult with your contractor before purchasing tiles or adhesives. The size of tiles can be a potential problem:- Large tiles do not generally work very well, appearance wise, in a small area and the size of tiles is always a major issue for walls and floors that are less than perfect (Tiles do not bend ):- Whilst smaller tiles can often cope with less than perfect surfaces, larger tiles can not:- A good tiler will always do the best he can, but remember that absolutely 100% perfect tiling is achievable only in laboratory conditions by robots!
7) The colour and finish of items in a bathroom design is down to personal choice. In my experience plain/neutral coloured tiles and paint finishes work best. Coloured tile edgings or bands may end up dictating the colour of towels, decorative accessories and the future paint colours on walls etc:- A combination of dark charcoal floor tiles, white “bumpy” wall tiles, very light grey emulsion walls and a white painted ceiling is a very cost effective but classy finish that works very well for all towel and accessory colours especially when combined with silver tile trims/beads and the silver taps and shower fittings etc to be found in most bathrooms:- A similar effect can be achieved with buff coloured and other neutrally coloured tiles:- If you are artistically minded and talented, do what you want and certainly don’t listen to any bathroom fitter!
8) Your contractor is likely to be on site for anywhere between 7 and 11 working days. Let him have a fairly large area on which to keep his tools, materials and the bathroom fittings etc:- Any contractor worth his salt will always respect your property ( use dust sheets etc) and will clear up at the end of every night. A spare room is ideal, and with the door kept shut to hide the storage area after the contractor has finished for the day, then the intrusion should be bearable for the contract duration
9) On most bathroom projects it is possible to keep a working toilet on the go for all but 24 hours of any contract:- Newly laid floor tiles need time to set prior to fixing the new wc and basin pedestal etc. In the absence of a second bathroom then alternative arrangements should obviously be made with neighbours, friends or family in advance.
10) Finally if you are happy with your bathroom let your contractor know ( everybody likes to be thanked for doing a good job) and pay him promptly. If you wish you can place a good review of his workmanship online through your Google account, it will help his web site rankings and also other potential customers seeking trustworthy and fine craftsmen.