Ideally the bathroom should be on the same floor as the bedrooms but in many old houses it is located beyond the kitchen on the ground floor. An extra bathroom will invariably add value to a property. But whether it’s a new bathroom squeezed into a closet, or a luxury en-suite in the attic, if the room has never been a bathroom, you must follow a few simple guidelines. And before making any decorative decisions it is important to concentrate on the plumbing and structural issues.
Changing the function of the room from a bedroom to a bathroom will need approval from your local building regulation officer. Changes to the water supply need to conform to water bylaws, so you should notify your local water company (your plumber can advise you if this is necessary).
Where will the waste go?
It’s far simpler (and cheaper) to fit new pipes to an outside wall.
What if the new bathroom has no external walls?
Usually the water supply can be re-routed easily, but the waste disposal will need a macerator and pump. In theory this is a clever solution, as the waste is reduced and pumped to the main soil stack. But beware – the installation can be messy and expensive, and the cheaper versions are noisy.
What about ventilation?
Wherever water is involved, condensation and moisture will build up, so extractor fans are a must, especially if there are no windows.
Leave this to the experts and remember that only special razor sockets are allowed in the bathroom. If you need music in the shower, try the Flow shower radio from bathstore.com
For a safe, streamlined look, opt for low-voltage halogen lights. If the bathroom has no windows but is on the top floor, get light from above through a tubular skylight.
Height and weight
During the planning stages spare a practical thought for the suite. If you want a traditional cast iron bath, check the floor can withstand the weight – especially in a loft conversion. If the room has sloping eaves, plan the shower and sink in the tallest parts of the room.
Can I do it myself?
No. You will need a professional plumber and electrician, but once the suite is in place, you could save money by tackling the flooring and tiling yourself.
Tiles are the most obvious waterproof wall covering. Try sheets of mosaic for added texture and interest. Look out for paints made especially for use in the bathroom. If you must use wallpaper, opt for a vinyl finish.
Tiles, terrazzo, vinyl and rubber are the most practical choices. There are now laminate wood floors designed especially for the bathroom. Avoid reviving old floorboards as they are virtually impossible to keep watertight. Cork is also making a comeback – it’s warm underfoot, but must be properly sealed.
Tips for tiny bathrooms to increase the sense of space:
- Choose a corner shower, bath, sink.
- A wall-mounted suite saves floor space.
- Use sliding doors and folding shower screens.
- A heated radiator doubles as storage for towels.
- Stick to a pale color scheme, and use large mirrors.
Create contemporary style:
- Mix different materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, wood, glass and limestone.
- Swap your shower for a tray-less, streamlined wet room. Water drains straight into the plug into a well-sealed floor.
- Use the same tiles for the walls and floor for a seamless finish that’s quick and easy to clean.