Bathroom Renovations

How to renovate your bathroom for under $10,000

An expert’s advice on keeping costs down - and the items worth splurging on.
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It’s often one of the smallest spaces in your home, but a bathroom can take a big chunk of your renovation budget. According to Housing Industry Association (HIA), the average cost of a bathroom renovation is an eye-watering $21,484. Depending on the space and your choice of fixtures and finishes, the cost of a bathroom reno can blow out of control.

You can still create the bathroom of your dreams without going over your renovation budget. The secret? Planning: itemising tasks to be carried out and listing every component and purchase necessary for the job, including taps, tiles, joinery, plumbing and electricals. Down to the last tube of grout. It may seem like overkill, but it’s the key to keeping a lid on spending.

“For a full bathroom renovation, a rough guide would be to spend 40% of your budget on fixtures, 35% on tiling, 20% on plumbing and the last 5% on electricals,” says Wesley Sinclair from Highgrove Bathrooms. “And always allow for a 10% buffer for any unexpected costs that may come up along the way.”

Modern black and white bathroom with hexagonal marble floor tiles and gold hardware
Tiles make a big statement leading right up to picture rail height in the chic bathroom of a renovated cottage in the Blue Mountains. (Credit: Photography: Helen Ward | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

How much should you spend on bathroom fixtures and fittings?

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. Keeping a bathroom renovation under $10,000 means careful allocation of spending across all items. “The fixtures to splurge on are your cabinetry, toilet and bathtub (if you’re looking to include one),” says Wesley.

“Don’t blow your budget on pricey mirrors, robe hooks, tapware, basins, towel racks and the like,” says Wesley. “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 keen to install a bathtub in your new bathroom, a freestanding tub might add that extra touch of luxury but could also make or break your $10,000 budget. On the other hand, a bath adds value to your home.


Coastal bathroom vanity with open shelving
A concrete vanity in a coastal Sydney home. Brodware tapware in Weathered Brass Organic and a Nero Stone sink. Finishing the lewk is Coastal Drift’s ‘Tiffin’ basket, against a Beaumont Tiles splashback. (Credit: Photography: Brigid Arnott | Stylist: Lisa Hilton)

When choosing a toilet, consider the WELS (water efficiency) rating as well as how easy it will be to keep clean. Wall-face toilets, where the cistern is hidden in the wall, are an interior designer’s favourite since they take up slightly less floor space and eliminate the need to clean behind your toilet. However, the installation can cost more and because the cistern isn’t as accessible, could be trickier and more expensive to repair down the track.

Ample bathroom storage is a must, 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,” suggests Wesley. You can also buy one ‘off the rack’ from a bathroomware supplier, rather than fork out for custom joinery.

Contemporary bathroom with white and green tiling
Wall-hung cabinetry and basin units provide ample storage but don’t take up too much bathroom real estate.

How can you save money when tiling a bathroom? 

The cost of tiling depends on 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 and it can instantly add value to your home,” says Wesley.

 However with prices ranging anywhere from between $40 to $500 per square metre (or more), you may want to be more discretionary about which tiles you choose and where to put ’em. Still want some opulence? Consider using a combination of tiles at varying price points; for example, basic square matte tiles in a neutral colour in the shower then a feature splashback of kit-kat or fish-scale tiles at the basin.

“Complex designs like mosaics and herringbone patterns are more expensive and can cost more to lay, too,” says Wesley. “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.”

 If your tiles are still in good condition, you could stick to a bathroom renovation under $10,000 by re-grouting instead of completely replacing. “A bit of facelift rather than a complete overhaul will save you a lot of money. In some cases, some fresh white grout is all that’s needed for a brand new look!” says Wesley.

Freestanding bath tub in a colourful bathroom
A freestanding bath is a luxury that will add value to your home, if you can swing it. (Credit: Photography: Rebecca Lu)

Don’t go too cheap when it comes to plumbing

While saving money on your bathroom renovation is a top priority, plumbing is not something you want to cut corners on. “Don’t scrimp when professionally fitting your basin, toilet, shower and bathtub, as poor plumbing can lead to many problems later down the track,” Wesley warns. A leaking tap or busted pipe could cost you so much more to fix than the initial installation fee.

Some products are only covered by warranty if they’re fitted by a licensed plumber too, so do your research. The average cost of a plumber is $110 per hour; they can also charge a flat fee per task.

If you were to completely renovate and rearrange the space, your plumber would need more time to change the bathroom layout, so sticking with the existing plumbing ‘footprint’ of your bathroom is an easy saving.

Bathroom with heated towel rail

Don’t forget about the cost of electricals when renovating a bathroom

Often overlooked in a bathroom reno, the electricals need to be considered up front and included in your budget planning. “Think, exhaust fans, down lights, LED mirrors, heated towel rails, power points and light switches,” explains Wesley. “Always plan your electrical layout before doing any tiling because this will make it much easier to run the necessary wires and cables.”

Effective lighting is a must, for shaving, make-up and brushing your teeth. But keeping a bathroom renovation under $10,000 may be challenging if you opt for statement lighting or fancy appliances. Keep it simple. “Since most everyday tasks centre around your vanity, having a wall sconce or an LED mirror will help illuminate this area,” suggests Wesley. A couple of down lights should complete the job.

Grey and white bathroom
Don’t forget to include room for lighting in your bathroom renovation budget. (Credit: Photography: Kristina Soljo | Styling: Fiona Gould)

Consider the big picture, too, to keep running costs down in the long term. 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, year-round. It might be cheaper than under-floor heating, as well.

You can complete your bathroom renovation for under $10,000 – and on time. Set a firm budget, plan it well from the start and get several quotes. Speak to the experts first: plumbers, tilers and electricians. “Their advice is free and can help you avoid costly mistakes,” Wesley adds.

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