How to avoid these bathroom reno rip-offs

A bathroom renovation can be one of the most effective ways to increase the value of your property, according to Open Agent

A well-planned and executed renovation can add up to 10 per cent to the value of your house, especially for those who have owned their home for five years or more. However, there are five common mistakes that can cost you more than you bargained for.

Over or underspending
It’s best to do some homework before you dive headfirst into a renovation. Research how much your renovation will cost, so that you won’t get stuck with an empty wallet and a half-finished bathroom.

A 2018 report revealed that the average cost of a bathroom renovation in Australia was $17,522. Depending on the size of your renovation, you can expect to spend as little as $5000 or as much as $25,000.

Spending $5000 to $15,000 on a bathroom is considered a budget renovation. Between $15,000 and $25,000 is standard and more than $25,000 is a luxury renovation.

The Houzz Australia 2017 Bathroom Trends Study revealed that people 54 and older spend an average of $11,900 on a bathroom renovation. And bathrooms and ensuites of five square metres or less will cost $9700 on average to renovate.

However, as important as it is to not overspend, having too tight a budget may produce inferior results and fail to impress you and potential buyers. Know your budget – and stick to it.

DIY
While the do-it-yourself approach may seem attractive, especially to those who feel comfortable using tools or are on a budget, it’s important to remember that some things should be left to the professionals.

If you have experience in tiling, painting or building shelves you may be able to do these tasks yourself but other complex areas, such as waterproofing, electrical work and plumbing, should be left to qualified tradespeople.

If you attempt certain tasks yourself, you’re likely to get hurt or damage your home. Damage to waterproofing or electrical work will likely cost you more than to employ a tradesperson at the start.

Tearing out the perfectly good guts
Don’t be fooled by old-school tiles and wacky colours. If your bathroom is structurally sound, there’s no need to break the bank pulling it apart. You can change the look of your bathroom with a few budget-friendly cosmetic changes.

Two of the costliest aspects of renovating a bathroom are waterproofing and relocating plumbing. If the layout of your bathroom is functional, consider avoiding big changes. Replacing the tapware, wall tiles and an old-looking vanity can save you thousands, while giving your bathroom a fresh, modern look.

Retiling the floor can damage the underlay of the waterproofing membrane, which can lead to many more expensive and long-term problems. Choice recommends avoiding major changes to the floor if you intend a budget renovation or to contract an experienced and trusted tradesperson if you do.

Choosing fashion over function
Trends come and go, so don’t get sucked into chasing the ‘Vogue living’ dream that prioritises fashion over functionality.

Keeping your design simple and it will likely age well. Seeking budget friendly alternatives to desired fittings and materials will save you money. Try to match the style of the bathroom to that of your home. This way it is likely to remain relevant for longer.

Dodgy tradespeople
There’s nothing worse than paying through the nose for a poorly done job. While some dodgy or unqualified tradespeople may try to take advantage of you if given the chance, there are many more honest people out there. The trick is finding them. It’s best to start by asking your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues for recommendations as word-of-mouth is still the best way to ensure that you contract a trustworthy worker.

A tradesperson who does a poor job can cause expensive problems down the track. They may also see an opportunity to rip-off a retiree. According to Service Seeking’s Renovation Consumer Price Index from 2016, these were the average hourly rates charged by tradies in 2016.

  • plumbing: $80.92 per hour
  • tiling: $44.93 per hour
  • renovations and building: $62.80 per hour
  • carpentry: $56.45 per hour
  • electrical: $75.56 per hour
  • painting: $42.56 per hour

Remember that this does not include the cost of materials and that prices will change, depending on your location. For example, the hourly rate is likely to be more expensive in metropolitan areas than in regional areas. If possible, ask for several quotes.

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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