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It is not a good time to think about selling up and moving as house prices are gradually recalibrating to more realistic levels, though it is an ideal time to add some value to your property through simpler moves like a bathroom renovation.
Not without their pitfalls, the popular bathroom reno is a little more complicated than what it may seem on the TV, though with some careful consideration and the right team it can be an enjoyable and beneficial process with some stunning outcomes.
Matt Tonner of Melbourne’s Fido Projects knows a thing or two about bathrooms and, in particular, how to go about a make-over in an apartment building where the challenges can be a little higher. According to Tonner, these are a few of the key things to be aware of:
* Consider the extent of works as there is a great deal of administrative work that needs to happen in order to renovate a bathroom along with builder’s preliminaries, so it may be better to hold off for another year or two and do the kitchen as well as you’ll get more bang for buck. Also some bathroom renovations may require a permit, so it’s a good idea to speak to your builder about this as well, so you have a realistic timeframe.
* Use a designer / architect who has a good understanding of building regulations and engage the building surveyor early in the planning to ensure you’ve covered off any compliance issues.
* Select a builder that you feel comfortable working with, not on price, as you’ll forget about paying that little bit extra in the years down the track. Ask to see some of the builder’s previous work and speak with a couple of their previous clients.
* Be realistic about budgets – real costs will likely be far more than you would expect so choose fixtures and finishes wisely and understand the impacts of selecting one finish over another. For example, a beautiful stone mosaic will not only be more expensive to purchase but costs substantially more to install and requires sealing which all adds up.
* Don’t skimp on spending money on good trades – every trade requires great skill to get the perfect finish. No point spending a fortune on tiles and using a cheap tiler as it’s not something you can pull off and try again.
* Works can impact on neighbours so often body corporate limit hours for noisy works which impacts on builder’s productive hours and increases costs.
* Parking and access for trades can make things more difficult so consider renting a car space for the construction period or providing visitor passes for trades.
* Works would likely require owners to move out so consider the cost of relocating yourself or your tenant.
* Be mindful of moving fixtures to alternative areas as sewer and water points can be difficult to relocate in apartments.
* Consider dimensions of shower screens, baths etc as lift / stair access may limit sizes.
Of course when it comes to design, the right products can make all the difference and regardless of size you can achieve a level of luxury.
Storage is the biggest thing in smaller bathrooms as most apartments don’t have space for a linen closet. Utilising the space under the basin is the best approach and means more surface area up top for a basin and easy access to the daily essentials.
Whether you go for a counter top or sunken basin, the top and tap height needs to remain relatively the same though in narrow situations it is the depth that actually counts. You really don’t want to be going any closer than 380mm to the wall with your vanities leading edge as simple things like removing make-up become even more frustrating than they already are.
A simple workaround is using a undercounter basin like the Mod 12 with a gooseneck mixer tap position to the right of the basin rather than behind. The basin depth is 280mm and requires an additional 50mm on each side meaning it maximises the minimal space and puts the fixtures to the side. Alternatively, the Premium range comes as a wall-mounted or countertop unit, which allows you to customise under-basin storage while choosing various widths or multi-basin versions and still keep things thin.
In extreme circumstances or for a small ensuites the Lavamani range, which in Italian translates to washing your hands, is perfect for precisely that – though these small basins and shelving units still hold a quality of material and finish worth the investment.
In any case, and any space, renovating a bathroom isn’t as simple as choosing the right tile colour but with a bit of pre-planning and some clever decisions it can be worth the wait and the investment.