What do I have to spend on a bathroom renovation?

Dated vanity unit? Ugly lino from the 80s? Yellowing plastic toilet seat? It’s time for a bathroom renovation.

With new hardware and plumbing to be upgraded, a bathroom reno is never going to be cheap.

But it’s usually worth doing, both for the pleasure of having a usable, beautiful space, and also for re-sale value: Some estimates put the return on bathroom renovation spends at $1.50 to $2 for every $1 spent.

We asked some experts what you should expect to pay.

READ MORE:
* The Block NZ: Trouble in paradise in family bathroom week
* How much do home renovations actually cost?
* How to save money on a renovation

Jeremy Gray, from Builderscrack.co.nz, said bathrooms are a relatively complex area of a home, and generally show their age faster than other areas. People can spend anything from less than $10,000 to more than $50,000.

Dave Georgetti, from Refresh Renovations, says most full replacement renovations (bath, shower, toilet and vanity) will cost between $20,000 and $40,000.

“Some of our clients just want an update to bring up the standard of the home or increase its value or saleability. Some renovations are triggered by necessity – leaking showers or faulty fittings that are doing damage.”

Georgetti says he gets a lot of satisfaction from before and after comparisons, “and knowing the clients will have a more luxurious start and end to their day”.

Dave Georgetti, from Refresh Renovations, says extras such as freestanding baths add to the cost, but also to the style.

Scott Espie

Dave Georgetti, from Refresh Renovations, says extras such as freestanding baths add to the cost, but also to the style.

What should you focus on?

The basics of adequate water pressure, lighting, heat and extraction need to be sorted first.

Then there are the extras – but these can all add to the cost. Things like wall-hung or custom-made vanities, stone or marble vanity tops and basins, freestanding baths or soaker tubs, frameless glass showers with rainheads, non-standard colours of tapware, and mirrors with built-in LED lighting and demisters will add up.

Mitre 10 bathroom expert Christa Macaulay says renovators need to factor in not just the cost of products and materials, but also allow for tradespeople, such as a plumber, electrician, tiler and builder.

“If the bathroom layout is changing significantly, this will increase your plumbing complexity and time on the job. It’s more cost-effective to replace fixtures in the same position as the original, if possible.”

Factor in not just the cost of products and materials, such as this vanity from Mitre 10’s Hafele range, but also allow for tradespeople. You want your bathroom reno done right, with no leaks.

MITRE 10

Factor in not just the cost of products and materials, such as this vanity from Mitre 10’s Hafele range, but also allow for tradespeople. You want your bathroom reno done right, with no leaks.

It is possible to get some lower-priced fittings from the big stores. Mitre 10 has a low-cost range for those with a budget of under $10,000, including a standard-size shower for only $599, along with a back-to-wall toilet for under $300.

“If you have a bit more budget to play with, consider upgrading to a larger walk-in shower with an overhead shower slider for a touch of luxury.

“It’s always good to start planning your renovation around the shower, with our popular glass 1200 by 900mm showers allowing for a very comfortable showering space.”

Clean and simple white worked for this bathroom upgrade by Refresh Renovations.

Scott Espie

Clean and simple white worked for this bathroom upgrade by Refresh Renovations.

A wall-hung vanity can “open-up the room and offer the illusion of more space, making a smaller bathroom feel bigger,” she said.

She recommends homeowners check with their local council before starting any bathroom renovation, to understand if building consent is required.

We can glean ideas from this year’s season of The Block NZ, in which bathroom renovation prices were all in the $20,000 to $30,000 price bracket. Of course, the contestants themselves contributed some labour, mainly putting up wall linings and painting.

Tim and Arthur's Zen-inspired bathroom from The Block NZ received rave reviews from the judges, especially the full-height glass in the shower.

Supplied

Tim and Arthur’s Zen-inspired bathroom from The Block NZ received rave reviews from the judges, especially the full-height glass in the shower.

What to expect for your budget

Under $10,000

Gray says that with a small budget, repainting, relining or refreshing an existing bathroom will be possible. “Or, use budget materials and fittings to make minor upgrades.”

He recommends the following options, depending on what the budget allowed:

  • Repaint walls
  • Replace cabinet doors
  • Replace handles and tapware
  • Replace acrylic shower box
  • Install a new type of blind or shade
  • Replace damaged or outdated fixtures and fittings
  • Replace toilet
  • Replace vanity
With a budget of up to $20,000, a tiled shower becomes a possibility.

UNSPLASH

With a budget of up to $20,000, a tiled shower becomes a possibility.

$10,000 to $20,000

In this price bracket, Gray says homeowners can “swap the older models for newer, updated versions, and (. . . ) benefit from using quality materials.

“Typically most of these tasks will be undertaken in combination with tasks from the previous price-bracket.”

  • Re-tile
  • Install new custom benchtop or wall-mount, double vanity sink
  • Strip back to frame, reline, re-waterproof
  • Repair floor damage from leaking plumbing if needed, relay and recover floor
  • Install tiled shower
  • Improve lighting
Dave Georgetti from Auckland Central Refresh Renovations undertook this bathroom renovation.

Scott Espie

Dave Georgetti from Auckland Central Refresh Renovations undertook this bathroom renovation.

$20,000 to $50,000

“This is where you can start to move plumbing and rework the space structurally,” Gray says.

  • Reconfiguring home layout to add an ensuite
  • Complex renovations involving moving plumbing
  • Adding toilets
  • Larger bathroom spaces and higher-spec fitouts

$50,000-plus

Gray says renovations above $50,000 give a homeowner “full creative license over the functionality, look and feel”.

“Typically a higher price buys more complexity for standard spec fit-outs, or higher spec fit-outs for standard bathrooms.”

  • Complex reconfigurations, as part of a larger alteration
  • High quality, custom fixtures
  • Granite or solid wood bench tops
  • Custom-built vanities
  • Contemporary tiling and mosaics
  • Freestanding bathtub