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What's a good budget for a bathroom renovation?

As an interior designer here in Sydney, I'm often asked about budgets generally and more specifically, how much people should allow in their budget for a bathroom renovation.

When people are looking at doing a bathroom renovation, I know that they will be hearing wildly varying numbers and I totally understand that this can be so confusing. I have seen recently in Facebook groups numbers like $16k for a full bathroom reno and I can tell you now, that while that may be possible, I absolutely cannot do a bathroom for that. No designer can.

Those low ball figures often involve the homeowner doing a lot of the demolition (although I would never recommend this) and taking charge of the dumping fees. It often includes second hand or on-sale PC items or having friends who are a tradie doing work at mates rates. They're figures more commonly associated with flipping houses or first home owners.

When you're creating a beautiful home, I know from experience that an average sized bathroom on the ground floor (in a house) will require approximately $25,000 for the builder and about $15,000 in PC items (in a mid price range). On top of that is the joinery, feature lights and stone bench tops and designer fees and these can vary greatly depending on complexity and stone chosen.

So, in a nutshell, you're looking at a 'from price' for one bathroom of around $45,000 - 50,000. Man, I know that sounds like so much, but that is truly what you're looking at for a beautiful designer bathroom here in Sydney. Of course economies of scale come into it, so if you have three bathrooms to do, there will be savings overall (as long as they're done concurrently).

Bathrooms in apartments have more constraints so the costs for the builder can vary to reflect that. Sometimes to cut down on costs, you keep the plumbing where it is but then you also have access and parking issues and the need to put up coverings to protect body corporate assets (lifts, stairwells, corridors, flooring etc).

I have a job on at the moment at a house which includes an ensuite and a main bathroom. The price for the builder is almost the same for both even thought the ensuite is about half the size (we aren't doing them at the same time as the client wants to live in the house while works are on). The client had trouble understanding that the job isn't worked out on a square meter basis but instead day rates for the trades. The difference in price between the rooms comes into play with the PC items. Obviously the smaller space needs less tiles for example, and it doesn't need a bath the associated tapware, so that's where the main difference in price will be.

Also note that the builder will quote assuming that there will be no nasty surprises once they start pulling things apart. If something does crop up such as termite damage, the builder will need to quote you on the additional work needed to rectify it. This is the one major risk involved in all renos....that something unexpected may crop up. I've seen it happen before on several occasions and this is exactly why you need to factor in some contingency funds to your budget. While it can be a hit to the hip pocket, it can also be a blessing in disguise! I once had a client who initially didn't want to update her kitchen but eventually changed her mind. And lucky that she did. When they demolished the existing kitchen they found a leak which would've eventually caused damage to the newly renovated ensuite below!

So, the moral of the story is, if you want to engage a designer to create a beautiful bathroom for you, the budget I would recommend is around $50,000 with a contingency of at least 10%.

If you need help designing a beautiful bathroom, we'd love to help! We have a full team to bring into the project including a wonderful builder and an awesome joiner and we have a huge list of suppliers in our little black book to go to for PC items.

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