Budgeting for a Bathroom: When to Splurge and When to Save


There’s no doubt that planning a home renovation is a mammoth task. With so many different considerations, where do you start? The average bathroom renovation can range from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the space and how much you’re looking to revamp, so it’s crucial to kick things off properly.

Words: Wesley Sinclair from Highgrove Bathrooms

But before the actual renovating even takes place, it’s important to make a plan and set a budget. The costs of fixtures, tiling, plumbing, fixtures and electricals can really add up if you don’t plan ahead. Always allow for a 10% buffer for any unexpected costs that may come up along the way.

For a full bathroom renovation, a rough guide would be to spend 40% your budget on fixtures, 35% on tiling, 20% on plumbing and the last 5% on electricals.

Accounting for nearly half of your renovation budget, the fixtures and fittings you choose can make or break the look and feel of your bathroom.

If it’s in your budget, the fixtures to splurge on are your cabinetry, toilet and bathtub (if you’re looking to include one). Ample storage space is a must for every bathroom, so choosing the right vanity and shelving for all your bathroom essentials is vital. Opting for a wall hung vanity will free up floor space and give you the illusion of a bigger bathroom.

When choosing a toilet, think about the WELS (water efficiency) rating as well as how easy it’s going to be to keep clean. Wall face toilets eliminate the need to reach around and clean behind your toilet, and rimless toilets provide a more hygienic flushing experience.

Don’t blow your budget on pricey mirrors, robe hooks, tapware, basins, towel racks and the like. Quality, affordable accessories that can coordinate your whole bathroom look are readily available and can be updated later when you’re ready for a refresh.

If you’re planning to include a bathtub in your new bathroom, splurging on a freestanding tub will add that extra touch of luxury while maximising the available space. And while you’re at it, why not take the plunge and go for a solid surface bath? They look spectacular and some, such as the Highgrove Bathrooms Lusini Freestanding Solid Surface Tub, offer up to 50% more heat retention.

The amount of your budget spent on tiling will be determined by the size of your space and how high you want your wall tiling to go. Floor to ceiling wall tiles is a luxury bathroom trend we’ve seen emerge over the last 5 years and it can instantly add value to your home.

Ranging anywhere from between $30 to $200 per square metre, the final tile price will depend on whether you opt for a basic or opulent look. Complex designs like mosaics and herringbone patterns are more expensive and can cost more to lay, too. On top of the price of your tiles, the actual installation can set you back around $40 per square metre – including things like site preparation, labour, glue and grout. Make sure you professionally waterproof the areas around your toilet, vanity, shower and bathtub to protect the integrity of your floors and walls.

If your tiles are still in good condition, you could consider re-grouting instead of completely replacing. Opting for a bit of facelift rather than a complete overhaul will save you lot of money, and in some cases, that fresh white grout is all that’s needed for a brand new look!

There are plenty of ways to save $ when renovating your bathroom, however, plumbing isn’t one of them. Don’t skimp when professionally fitting your basin, toilet, shower and bathtub, as poor plumbing can lead to many problems later down the track. A leaking tap or busted pipe will cost you so much more to fix than the initial installation fee. Some products are only covered by warranty if they’re professionally fitted too, so make sure you do your research.

The hourly rate of a plumber is $80 on average, or they can charge per task. To completely renovate and rearrange the space, your plumber will need more time to extend and change the current layout to suit your new bathroom plan. Always get a quote and avoid changing your original plans if possible!

The electrical elements in a bathroom can sometimes be overlooked when planning a renovation – think exhaust fans, downlights, LED Mirrors, heated towel rails, power points and light switches. Always plan your electrical layout before doing any tiling as it’s much easier to run the necessary wires and cables.

You want your lighting to be effective enough to carry out daily activities like shaving, applying make-up and brushing your teeth. As most of these activities centre around your vanity, having wall sconces or an LED Mirror will help illuminate this area.

Heated towel rails when fitted with a timed eco wall switch are an energy efficient way of ensuring your towel is toasty warm and dry all year round. Talk to your electrician about having the wiring run before you install your tiles though as these need to be hardwired and professionally installed.

Also make sure you select and install a good quality exhaust fan to eliminate moisture build up in your bathroom.

There are so many options available to complete your bathroom renovation on time and on budget.  Make sure you speak with the experts first; your plumber, tiler and electrician.  Their advice is free and can be invaluable in helping you to avoid costly mistakes.