Finally, you're going to have to paint anyway. Now is the time to consider the colour of the paint and how it can be improved from the lurid pink, green, yellow or blue that someone thought was a good idea. Paint is the easy bit! Just remember to add a mould-inhibitor to any paint you decide to use in a bathroom, and make sure it is a semi-gloss or gloss to make it easier to wipe clean.
Phew! That's a long list!
Having to renovate a bathroom in any property can become a major exercise very quickly if you don't consider all of these points before you buy.
One of my earliest clients, and a very good friend, made the mistake of buying a flat, knowing that she had to do something with the kitchen because it was visibly falling apart.
Unfortunately, she didn't check the stability of the tiles in the bathroom. We initially thought we could get away with some cosmetic work on the tiles, bath and walls, but closer inspection (unfortunately, after settlement...) showed us that we would have to rip out the lot and start again. The only thing we could save was the layout of the bathroom and the actual bath, toilet, and sink, with some clever work to save them. This realisation that she had to renovate a bathroom as well as a kitchen blew her budget to double what she could afford overnight, even with some really quick thinking and a lot of help from friends.
The good news is that when we finished the job, the rental return on the property increased beyond our wildest dreams (I'd told her she might achieve $200 per week, up from $150 - and she was offered $240!). For a few weeks, this little apartment was the most chic and expensive two-bedroom apartment to rent in the suburb, until the other real-estate agents cottoned on and raised other (less renovated) apartments to match.
What can I do if my rental property's bathroom turns out to be a disaster?
There are plenty of things you can do to renovate a bathroom on a tight budget, as long as you are prepared to shop around, find bargains and ask for discounts.
This doesn't mean you have to compromise on the appearance, or even the quality of the finish, if you are prepared to be a bit creative.
In the case of my friend above, all the tiles had to go. So we bought simple white tiles (always classic) with a rippled surface for around $12.50 per square metre and put those on the walls. The ripple effect was a tip I got from the builder who worked on our own house and it's served me well. It looks really lovely, while hiding the fact that you might not have got all your tiles laid perfectly flat on the wall - and that wall was not even remotely flat, because it was all roughly cemented bricks underneath!
If the floor tiles are sound, but simply too ugly to go with your new tiles, you can paint a new membrane over them and then tile right over the top, requiring only a small adjustment to the bottom of the door to fit over the new level. Floor tiles (with a non-slip surface for safety and your insurance) start at around $25 per square metre. If you shop around, you may be able to find enough tiles to suit the job in the remainder boxes at your tile supplier. Don't forget to keep an eye out for bargain items like an eyecatching detail tile either. We were able to put a stylish strip of pebbles down the side of the bath for only $5!
If everything is sound, but it's just a horrible colour, talk to a tile and bath re-enamelling specialist about how much it will cost to have everything sprayed white or another suitable colour using waterproof bathroom enamel paint. Make sure you have the number of square metres of tiles they will need to cover with you when you call them up. The average cost to re-spray an entire bathroom is between $1000-1500, which is cheap when you consider that a complete re-tile by a tradesman can cost anything from $6000+.
Floor wastes for water should be blocked gently with paper until you're finished, to prevent rubble and grout from filling them up, and a new waste can cost as little as $3.
When it comes to taps and faucetts (or any other bathroom fittings - even the toilet seat), choose carefully for a balance between budget and style when your renovate a bathroom. There are some really nice designs for just about anything from plumbing fittings to towel rails and toilet roll holders if you're prepared to look at all the prices on the shelf (or online).
Make sure that cheap doesn't equal nasty and outdated, or likely to break quickly. This kind of false economy when you renovate a bathroom can destroy the lovely work you do elsewhere, and cost you money in the long run in repairs. Taps and fittings are the shining crowning glory of bathroom design, so look at a showroom for something really stylish and then try to get as close as you can to that look with a cheaper alternative at the hardware store or trade suppliers.
Shopping around can find you cabinets and shelves for as little as $10-25, which is fine if you can check them for sturdiness and install them yourselves.
Finally, remember that a mirror is almost essential in any bathroom. Remove one which is losing its foil backing and replace it with something new. Extend it as far as you can along a wall to enhance both the design and the feeling of space in your smallest room.
You can check thrift stores and two-dollar shops as well as hardware and homewares shops for something cheap and simple, but sizes can be a problem and size does count if it looks out of proportion to the place where you are mounting the mirror. The simplest and cheapest solution we have found is to go to your local glaziers and have a custom-sized mirror cut without a frame, and ask them to suggest fitting options (such as screws with a dome-nut, or special almost-invisible mirror mounts) to hold it in place. It's not as expensive as you may think.
Approached with the right attitude and knowledge, you can renovate a bathroom on a very tight budget and end up with an extremely professional result. Don't let your investment dream turn into a nightmare because of a few loose tiles: muck in and have ago!
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