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BathroomBathroom Renovation Costs: An Expert Guide

Whether you’re taking on a house extension or undertaking a minor refresh, one of the most asked questions is how much a bathroom renovation costs.  After all, it’s a room of the house that is used every day, multiple times a day.  So naturally, we all want our bathroom to be the best it can be.

Without a doubt, bathrooms are the most underrated room in the house when it comes to price. Yes, bathrooms and ensuites are small compared to almost every other room in the house.  But there are layers of detail in a bathroom that hide the cost.

Just because the bathroom is a smaller room, doesn’t mean it costs less to renovate. So to help you understand what costs to expect when taking on a bathroom renovation, we’ve enlisted the expertise of designer, Bronwyn Aldridge of BronzDC to uncover all the costs you need to be aware of for your project.

Modern upstairs bathroom with a bathtub facing a large window overlooking a deck.

Bathroom renovation costs: what you need to know

Whether it’s a compact space or a palatial retreat, there are lots of things to consider. But no matter what, it’s critical to estimate your bathroom renovation costs before you start demolishing walls or choosing tiles. Read through these points to get a clear picture of what’s involved:

A bathroom renovation has lots of moving parts

Often when we think about renovating a bathroom, trades that spring to mind are a plumber and tiler. These are both important trades however a full bathroom renovation entails a lot of moving parts. So you are going to need several different trades required to convert the space from old to new.

Which trades do all bathroom renovations need?

Every bathroom renovation is going to need a demo team. This includes a plumber, electrician, plasterer, tiler, concreter and painter at a minimum. If you manage your renovation, you won’t need a builder to coordinate all the trades – that will be your job. If you have the budget available, though, and you’re short on time or experience, we do recommend hiring a project manager.

What other services and costs are involved?

In addition to all your trades, you may need rubbish removal or Skip Bins.  If you don’t have a second bathroom or you are renovating more than one bathroom at a time, you should arrange a temporary ensuite hire.  These are a brilliant investment and mean that you can stay in your home throughout the renovation which will ultimately save you money.

You also need to consider if specialist trades are necessary for safely dealing with building health hazards, like mould.

So you’re starting to understand where the cost of renovating a bathroom can quickly add up considering how many people need to be involved for a quality result.

Are all bathroom renovations a big deal?

Of course, there are bathroom renovations that are not complete overhauls, For example, they may only involve new tapware or re-painting the walls to breathe new life into the space. These types of renovations could be a DIY project and often require minimal trade help to complete. The size of the project will depend on the age of the home, any damage that may need to be repaired, the desired layout and the intent behind the renovation; are you renovating to sell in a tough market or reimagining the room for your own family?

What does a bathroom renovation cost in Australia?

It would be fair to say that fixtures and fittings like freestanding bathtubs, toilets, mirrors, towel rails, showers, taps, gorgeous vanities and basins, tiles and accessories usually make up a quarter of the renovation cost. My average project allows between $6000 – $8000 for client-selected products per bathroom for fairly standard yet good quality items. 

Bathroom packages are another option for fixtures and fittings. These vary a lot in price, starting at around $5500.

In today’s market, with the building industry experiencing cost increases in both labour and supply, a bathroom renovation could range from a $10,000 facelift to $35,000 for completely gutting the room and starting from scratch. I’ve also completed bathroom renovations that were nearly $100k by the time my clients chose some very high-end fixtures, coupled with difficult structural limitations to an upper-level bathroom.

Bronwyn Aldridge
Image: Trilogy Projects

Does bathroom size make a difference to renovation costs?

No, because whether your bathroom is a corner ensuite or the size of a bedroom, you will still need the same number of tradespeople, fixtures and fittings.

Of course, if a bathroom is large and tiled to the ceiling as opposed to a smaller room with half-height wall tiling, then tiling costs increase. And while a design choice such as this would be a great area to consider if trying to keep costs at bay, on its own it is not a huge contributor to the overall cost.

The tiler is going to have to be onsite for the same time regardless of tile height. So, a few extra rows aren’t going to make a significant difference. You can apply this logic to all trades.

Bronwyn Aldridge
L-Shaped bathroom with a rectangular tub and triple windows.

Know that structural limitations add extra cost

What can make a difference to the costs of a bathroom renovation is structural limitations. Upper-level bathrooms require more manual handling of tools and materials across levels. It’s a lot more effort to lug old tiles and concrete downstairs bucket by bucket than from a ground-floor bathroom.

Old plumbing can be another area that catches homeowners by surprise. For example, replacing galvanised pipework to meet compliance. This often means removing concrete floors.

Water damage and other old wear and tear can lend themselves to secondary work outside of the bathroom area that may only become exposed during construction. The older the home, the bigger the chance of something going awry.

I recommended that you factor in approximately 10% of your overall budget for renovation work. And if you don’t need it by handover … wonderful! You can afford some luxurious new fluffy towels and can start saving toward your next project!

Bronwyn Aldridge
Image: Trilogy Projects

The bottom line: remember to make informed decisions

Every bathroom renovation should be assessed on its own merit, with costs calculated realistically. We recommend that clients simultaneously engage a designer and a builder as the first step. When you have all three parties involved, it’s quicker to eliminate non-feasible ideas.

Communication is key! By taking the time to have this three-way meeting, designs won’t be proposed that are going to break the bank. And the bathroom is going to be constructed with a thorough understanding of the brief and design intention. And most importantly, the budget is going to be respected as much as possible from the very beginning.

I ensure that the builders I use share my value of honesty and transparency when offering advice. And when the client is transparent with their budget, we can maximise every dollar spent.

Bronwyn Aldridge
Making home banner referencing expert designer, Bronwyn Aldridge.

This article was written by Bronwyn Aldridge, principal designer of Bronz Designs and Consultancy, an experienced residential designer with qualifications in both Building and Interior Design. Her projects vary from standalone bathroom renovations to full home extensions and everything in between. The mission of Bronz DC is to share honest, reliable advice for clients and help builders understand client needs.

Images via Bronz DC

Planning a family bathroom? Head over to our guide and find out how to choose a bathtub that’s right for your home.

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