Find out the Top 5 bathroom renovation tips direct from our Builderscrack bathroom experts. This advice can make all the difference between a successful bathroom renovation or not…

1) It’s All in The Planning

Adam Pearce. Bathroom renovator at Better Bathrooms, Auckland.

As the saying goes –  “The devil is in the detail” and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to tackling a bathroom renovation.

“Planning the layout is everything. It’s a good idea to get your builder in early to discuss ideas on layout possibilities.  Even small spaces can work and function well with a good layout. Often simple things like changing to a cavity slider door or moving existing layouts around can make a big difference” – Daniel Palmer, Builder.

“Plan the bathroom first, rather than buying products you like the look of and then trying to make them fit. Double check measurements – where items are going to fit inside the bathroom. For example, if putting a vanity with a heated towel rail on the wall, you’ll need to double check that when you open the vanity drawer or door, it doesn’t hit the towel rail, or when opening the shower door that it doesn’t hit the toilet” – Adam Pearce, Bathroom Renovator.

“Plan ahead, a good renovator will usually be booked out at least 2-3 months in advance. Even when not using a professional renovator, give yourself that lead time to book in any tradespeople you will need” – Andre Massey, Bathroom Renovator.

2) Don’t Skimp on Fixtures

This is one room that going too cheap on your fixings, such as shower mixes and taps, can cost you money in the long run.

“There are few stores that sell what looks to be European bathroom fittings but a lot of the time they are cheap imported products. The money saved on buying the real thing is soon lost when the plumber has to spend extra time trying to adapt the fittings to fit the standard NZ pipes and fittings. They are also prone to breaking down early and the customer after care is usually of the same standard as the items they are selling. Meaning you won’t be able to service these items and they will need complete replacement” – Chris Hall, Plumber.  

3) Upgrade Your Plumbing System

Chris Hall. Plumber at Uneda Plumber, Christchurch.

Old plumbing pipes don’t last forever. They degrade over time and are a major cause of many leaks in a home. You’re rolling the dice if you renovate your bathroom without upgrading the plumbing system at the same time. If/when an old pipe leaks, you’ll have to tear into your brand new bathroom walls to find the leak, causing extra cost and having to redo your bathroom.

“If the walls are being stripped for a bathroom reno, make sure you remove all of the old pipework, it’s probably already done it’s time so it would be silly to try and save a few dollars by covering old pipes with new gib, tiles and fixtures only to have to rip it all out again in a few months because an old pipe has finally sprung a leak” – Chris Hall, Plumber

“Make sure you have a decent plumbing system, i.e mains pressure hot water. This is not an upsell to the customer to make more money. The way I often put it to people is, someone who knows about cars would advise you to lift the bonnet and make sure the engine of a car is in good condition rather than be sold on the paint job. The hot water cylinder, or gas system, is the engine of your plumbing system and we see time and time again people blowing their budget on tiles and tapware when doing up a bathroom. This looks great when you’re showing it off to friends and family, but is not the best when you are running around in the shower trying to get wet because the pressure is too low” – Chris Hall, Plumber.


4) Hire Quality Tradespeople

Andre Massey. Bathroom renovator at 20/20 Glass Plus, Tauranga.

Being a wet area, there is the potential for a lot of to go wrong if you hire the wrong tradespeople. The consequences of fixing a shoddy bathroom renovation can be costly. There are places to save on costs but this is not one of them.

“You want experienced, licensed tradespeople i.e. master painters, registered waterproofers, electricians, plumbers, builders working on your bathroom. Hiring licensed professionals has the added benefit of being able to provide the homeowner with certification like – waterproofing, plumbing PS3, and electrical” – Adam Pearce, Bathroom Renovator

“Don’t go cheap when hiring tradespeople. Waterproofing, requires someone accredited to do the work. Anything connecting to your waste has to be done by a plumber; the same applies to electrical equipment like; heated towel rails being installed by an electrician” – Andre Massey, Bathroom Renovator

“Water damage caused by improper waterproofing, it’s just not worth skimping on – whole bathrooms and adjoining rooms may need stripping back to framing and completely rebuilt as a result” – Andre Massey, Bathroom Renovator.

5) Where To Save Money

Daniel Palmer. Builder at Palmer Construction, Palmerston North.

We’ve talked a bit about where not to skimp on a bathroom renovation, but where can you save money? There are a number of areas to safely save on the budget, including painting walls instead of tiling, and shopping around for products and fittings to get the best price.

“Not opting for a full wet bathroom, as this is the most expensive option” – Daniel Palmer, Builder

“Plumbing merchants usually have a good selection of tapware, valves and fixtures but can be quite pricey to the public walking in off the street. If you talk to your plumber he should be able to get you a discount on the retail price as he has an account with the merchant” – Chris Hall, Plumber

“Shop around for products and tiles – there are often sales to take advantage of. As long as you are buying from respected companies, you can get good quality items for affordable prices” – Adam Pearce, Bathroom Renovator

“Having a fully tiled bathroom is the most expensive of options, so bear that in mind when planning. If you are handy, you could do your own tiling, but note a bad tiling job is very visible in a bathroom” – Andre Massey, Bathroom Renovator.




Thanks to our four expert tradies for sharing with us their bathroom tips. You can find these and many more expert tradespeople on