What you need to know before renovating a bathroom

Before embarking on your bathroom renovation project, there are a few things you have to consider. We have put together this guide to give you an idea of what is involved when renovating bathrooms.

Renovation a bathroom in London

Bathroom Remodelling Process can be separated into five stages:

  • Finding Inspiration - This is probably the most fun part of the process. Finding inspiration has never been easier. Many online websites cater to DIY home improvers. You can find thousands of ideas on websites such as Pinterest, Homify and Houzz.
  • Designing your Bathroom - Once you have decided how you would like your bathroom to look, the next stage is putting everything in place. Some of the most important things to consider are whether you are going to draw your plans using online planning software, sketch the plans by hand on a scaled diagram, or hire someone to do the job for you.
  • Planning - This is when you need to start thinking about hiring a contractor or different building specialists and create a schedule to help you plan the renovation step by step.
  • Construction - This stage includes demolition and strip out, carpentry, plumbing and electrics, bathroom fitting, joinery and painting.
  • Completion -This is when you can give yourself a pat on the back while admiring your brand new bathroom.

Finding Inspiration

Shower area in a luxurious bathroom


You can find many online sites offering bathroom design ideas and inspiration. Here are some of the most popular ones: 

Houzz is a type of social media network where homeowners can connect with builders, architects and interior designers, who use the platform to showcase their work. You can create idea books where you can save all your favourite images.

Pinterest is a social media platform that allows users to upload and share images and videos. You can 'pin' all your favourite pictures on your board to view later.
 
Similarly to Houzz, Homify is a social platform where homeowners can find inspiration and connect with building specialists in their area. 

As well as online, you can find inspiration in other places:

Home improvement magazines such as "Essential Kitchen, Bathroom Bedroom magazine."

Home décor retailers such as Ikea and Homebase are great places to find inspiration for your planned bathroom makeover. 

Designing your Bathroom

simple 3d design of a bathroom


At this stage, you will need to sift through your list of ideas and decide where everything will go in your new bathroom. To achieve this, you can choose one of the methods listed.

1. Prepare your own plans by drawing a scale diagram on paper. If you're planning to do most of the work yourself, your sketch measurements will need to be as precise as possible. If you are going to hire a building company, then a rough sketch will do. Your bathroom floor plan will need to include room dimensions, location of units, taps, cabinets, lights etc.

2. Use online software to create your room layout. There are many different types of 2d and 3d room planners available on the internet, both free and paid.
Floor planner is perfect for beginners. You can draw your plans from scratch or choose an existing drawing to start with. The simple drag & drop interface works in your browser, so you do not need to download anything.
Sketch up is a powerful 3D modelling program. But being very advanced also means that it is more difficult to use. If you are new to it, you will have to go through a lot of video tutorials to learn how to use it.

3: Hire an architect, interior designer, or design and build contractors to prepare the drawings for you.

If you choose to do your design yourself, don't forget to include the plumbing, electrical and tiling layouts in your bathroom floor plan.

Planning

Getting Organised

It is essential to have a complete plan in place before you start your bathroom remodelling project. Create a folder (and a series of subfolders) on your computer and save all the items you might use in your renovation so that you will always be able to locate it when you need it. Getting organised before starting will help you to stay on track and will make budgeting easier. 

This information will come from various sources and might include:

  • Research – ideas, products, costs, suppliers, builders' contacts
  • Your bathroom renovation plans 
  • Budget and costing
  • Building schedule 

Choosing Bathroom Finishes

Listed below are examples of the items you may want to select or at least have some input when dealing with a building professional:

  • Floors and walls – ceramic, stone, mosaic tiles
  • Cabinets – decide how much storage you will need 
  • Bath Fixtures – toilet, basin, shower area, bathtub and taps
  • Lighting - spotlights, led strip lighting
  • Doors/Windows – frames, handles and fittings
  • Heating - Radiators, Underfloor heating, sheet heating behind the wall tiles

Key Things You Should Do

  1. Visiting showrooms will help you get a good idea of what is available on the market and how much it will cost.
  2. Make sure that you make all your selections before the construction starts, and that all materials are ready and on-site.
A young couple visiting a bathroom renovation showroom and chosing a cabinet

Now it's time to find someone who will help you complete the work. You have two options. Either you can appoint a building company specialised in house refurbishment to complete all the tasks from demolition to completion, or you could hire independent tradespeople for each part of the job.

While the first option might be slightly more expensive as the renovation company manages the whole process from start to finish, if you are after a stress-free renovation, it is the best choice.  

If you don't mind doing some of the work yourself, you can save some money by taking the second route. The tradesmen you might need include carpenter, electrician, plumber, plasterer, tiler and painter decorator.


How to find the best builders?

There are many different ways to find good quality building contractors, including referrals by friends, workmates and family members, Google search, Yellow pages, and much more. Make sure that you check the contractor's references and if possible, view at least one of their previous project to make sure that your bathroom is in save hands.  


Obtaining quotations and signing contracts 

We suggest starting to look for builders at least one months before you plan on starting. Most recommended contractors or building specialists will have a couple of months worth of work in front of them and might take up to two weeks before they come back to you with a detailed quotation.  

Try and obtain three quotes so that you can compare your contractors on price but also on the quality of their previous work.


Signing a contract  

Once you have chosen a contractor and are happy with their price, it's time to sign an agreement. It should include the price, the contractor's contact details, anticipated start and completion dates, etc. 


Planning your project timeline 

If you are using different tradespeople for each part of the job, using a simple text editor or a construction schedule template to organise the timeline for each part of your project will save you time. It will help you ensure that each stage will be fully complete before the next building specialist is due to start. Don't forget to include preliminaries such as ordering a skip, installing floor protection, and setting up temporary toiles if needed in your schedule.  

Construction

Bathroom remodelling process - demolishion and strip out

Strip out and demolition

The extend of the demolition and strip out will depend on how extensive are the changes you are planning to do. At the least, you will need to remove the tiles, the units and probably the flooring.

Demolition might be dangerous, especially when it comes to plumbing and electrics, so it is best to leave it to the experts who will make sure that everyone stays safe and that the rest of the house is protected. 

Carpentry

Most bathroom renovations will involve a simple strip out and re-installation, requiring only minor carpentry. More extensive bathroom remodelling projects will require the carpenter to come at least twice, to do the first fix and the second fix. 

First fix carpentry might include:

  • Installation of new wall framing or partition walls
  • Replacement of damaged timbers
  • Frames for custom bathtubs
  • Frames for concealed cisterns

Next, the plumber and electrician will come in to either install new services or relocate the existing services following your bathroom design. Make sure you all the plumbing and electrical fittings are on-site.

The carpenter will come back at a later stage to complete the second fix, such as the installation of doors and cabinets. 

Walls

1. Brick walls

If you have brick walls, you are most likely going to use wet plaster (i.e. sand and cement or silicone render) to skim the walls to make them straight and ready for tiling. You can waterproof your walls by applying two layers of liquid damp proof membrane (DPM), with a layer of fibreglass mesh in between them.   


2. Timber frame walls

If your house has timber frame walls, the internal walls will generally have dry-lining (plasterboard). Popular options to use on timber stud walls include WBP plywood or moisture resistants fibreboards such as Gypsum.  

Bathroom renovation process - tiling

Tiling

Now that your walls are flash and straight, its time to move onto the tiling. Some things to consider are. 

The type of adhesive you are going to use. We prefer Flexi adhesive, which is suitable for use on both stud wall and brick walls and can be used with under-floor heatings.

The set out of your bathroom tiling. It's rare to get your bathroom tiles to work from corner to corner. There will generally be a cut tile on one side of the wall or the other. It's best to discuss the layout with your tiler, especially if you have tiles with a pattern on it.

Grouting. Waterproof grout is the best option for all bathroom renovation projects. You can choose between white and coloured grout.

Second fix plumbing & electrics

Once all your bathroom tiling is complete, it's time for the plumber and electrician to come back to finish the plumbing and electrical fit-out.  

Make sure you have all your fittings including toilet, bathtub, basin, water taps, lighting and heated towel rails on-site ready to go. 

Bathroom renovation process - painting

Painting

Painting a bathroom is a relatively straightforward part of the renovation process. Depending on your design, there might be barely any area left to be painted, and you might be able to do it yourself. Or there may be quite a lot of painting to do, including walls and ceilings, skirting, doors and window frames, in which case it's worth to get an experienced painter.

Choosing a good quality mould and bacteria resistant paint will help your walls stay clean and fresh. 

Bathroom renovation process - joinery - made to measure cabinets

Bathroom joinery (cabinetry)

Depending on your preferences, budget and your bathroom design, you can choose between custom made joinery, pre-made cabinets, or flat-packed furniture units.

While custom joinery is more expensive, it is unique, tailored to your tastes and fully customised and painted to match the rest of your bathroom perfectly. It will also help you save space by getting made-to-measure cabinets built to fit into your new bathroom without wasting any space.

Completion

There are a few things left to consider upon the completion of your renovation project, most importantly, defects and warranties. 

1) DEFECTS 

Highly rated building contractors will offer at least a 3-month warranty for minor renovation works they have completed, allowing you to retain 10% of the total amount up until three months after the completion of the work.

2) WARRANTIES 

Scan all your purchase receipts and warranties and save them in your renovation folders. Alternatively, ask the retailer to send you a digital copy of your invoice. By doing this, if one or more of your appliances or fittings stop working, it will be much easier to locate the paperwork.

Now you can finally sit back and admire your new bathroom. Or maybe, you are already thinking about your next renovation project. Perhaps you would like to learn how to renovate your kitchen?

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