5 Bathroom Blunders To Avoid

It’s no secret that a new bathroom is one of the most labour-intensive and challenging renos you’re likely to tackle, especially if you’ve decided to project manage it yourself. Brace yourself for weeks without the convenience of a shower and loo, and for the procession of tradies a typical bathroom reno demands.

Luckily, with the right knowledge and planning, you can avoid some of the rookie errors that trip up inexperienced renovators. With almost 50 bathroom renos under my belt, I’ve identified the top 5 mistakes to avoid.


# 1 Failing to have a proper plan

If you’re project managing your own bathroom reno, it might be tempting to just make decisions on a whim and wing your way through it. However, what you might see as creative freedom can easily descend into complete chaos. Making decisions on the fly is the surest way to get your tradies off side, blow out your time lines and have costs spiral out of control. Everything needs to be properly planned out well in advance of any work starting, complete with strict time lines, detailed costs and the all-important order of works, so you know exactly what needs to happen when.

#2 Not sticking to budget


The best way to ensure you don’t overcapitalise on a bathroom reno is to set your budget at the start – and stick to it! Where possible, try to allocate a contingency of 10% as a buffer against unforeseen problems or things that don’t go exactly to plan. That’s Murphy’s Law. When you’re dealing with decades-old plumbing and electricals, ripping up floors and chipping off old tiles, it’s impossible to know what’s hidden behind, that may require thousands to put right. When you have a proper project plan in place, you can finetune your budget as the reno progresses – pare back that $1,000 basin to something more modest, if you need to claw back funds.

#3 Automatically ripping out and replacing everything

Your first impulse might be to demolish everything and start with a clean slate, but stop and consider if that’s really necessary. Ditto with shuffling your room layout when the current placement of your toilet, vanity and shower all make perfect sense. Think carefully, too, about ripping out a bath to make a fancy, walk-in shower. That could be a good plan for a property targeting wealthy singles, but not so great if your target market is families who expect a bath. Updating a few key items like your vanity, shower screen, toilet, shaving cabinet, etc, but keeping the bones of the old bathroom, can save you thousands of dollars and still get you the look of a new bathroom. White Knight tile paint can be used to resurface your old wall tiles, making it way cheaper and less disruptive than replacing all the tiles. It’s about thinking outside the square to reduce costs, but still achieve a contemporary bathroom.

#4 Tackling DIY when it should be left to the pros


We all know it’s illegal to do your own plumbing or electrical work, but it doesn’t stop some gungho DIYers from attempting crucial tasks, like the waterproofing. In a bid to save a few bucks, you’ll be running the risk of a leaky bathroom – one of the most common DIY disasters if waterproofing isn’t done correctly. That’s not an easy or cheap fix, as anything laid over the waterproofing will need to be ripped up and reinstalled, once the repair is done. My advice: keep your DIY handiwork to straightforward tasks like painting only.

#5 Hooked on trends that will quickly date

Unless you’re happy to renovate your bathroom every couple of years, or want a bathroom that’s bang on-trend, then it’s risky to choose fixtures and fittings that look like they’re straight out of the pages of Vogue Living. Rose gold taps, boldly patterned tiles, coloured cabinetry, basins in quirky shapes or materials… they may look cool today, but how will they measure up in a year or two? You don’t have to go with an all-white bathroom to play it safe, but conversely, choosing the hottest trends could mean you end up with a dated bathroom all too quickly.

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  1. I am just in the process of updating my bathroom and everything you have said above makes total sense. My biggest job is putting in a double hung leadlight window (house in 1930s)and removing a smaller window which will eat the budget as weatherboards also will need to be replaced but it will look amazing (I hope!. I’m leaving the toilet, replacing the vanity (in the same place) replacing bath (in the same place) and new tiles walls and floor. Love all your tips, thanks Dot

  2. That was fantastic read! I’m going to be doing up a settlers cottage in about a month and the bath room has been weighing on my mind but know I have a nice easy vision because you have simplified the project for me! 🙏🏻

  3. Hi
    Hoping to convert laundry to an ensuite in my 70’s style unit, need to move hot water system to fit shower, basin and toilet. Any tips please?

  4. Hi Cherie,

    I have a little dilemma where the bathroom vanity has been made 1055 mm long instead of 900mm. This leaves only 745mm for a wall hung WC pan which is 360 wide . This leaves 192mm on either side of the pan. One side being shower screen and other side is vanity
    Can you please guide me weather it meets the clearance requirement/ recommendation.

    1. Hi Jyoti, building code standards differ in every state of Australia. 850mm spacing is the ideal spacing for a toilet area so you would fall under this at 745mm. Best thing to do is to call a local plumber and get them to advise if this is an issue (based on which state you live in). C x

  5. Hi Cherie
    I am planning on resurfacing the wall tiles and bath in our existing bathroom but would like to replace tiles on floor. Can this be done without ripping out whole bathroom? My shower area is enclosed by a shower hob that is tiled on one side of shower and runs into the bath on the other side (walls on the other 2 sides). the bathroom floor is separated from the shower floor by the hob.

    1. Hi Justine – you can replace just your floor tiles instead of ripping out your whole bathroom. You will need to waterproof your whole entire floor area again however you may have some problems with the waterproofing not being able to be extended up into your wall area. You’ll need to speak to a good water proofer about this. In light of this, you might want to consider getting your existing floor tiles professionally resurfaced if they are still in good condition. Companies like Thermoglaze or Resurfacing Australia can give you a quote on this. Will save you having to rip out all your tiles without any waterproofing issues. C x

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