Tips from a plumber: What to consider when renovating a bathroom
If you’re thinking about renovating your bathroom, there are certain things you can DIY, but the plumbing part is not one of them and should be left up to the professionals. We spoke to Chris Gough from Greenstream Sustainable Plumbing who gave us some great tips on what to think about before you start renovating a bathroom, the importance of using a licensed plumber, and what can happen if you don’t.
e&s: What are your top tips to consider before starting a bathroom renovation?
C: Think about your end result and work backward; the fixtures ultimately determine the layout of your space, where services (such as water) need to be connected. Once that’s done, you can start planning and carefully mapping out timeframes, and if you are living in the house consider your living arrangements while the renovation is taking place. Bathing in the sink can quickly lose its novelty! You’d be surprised at how many people start knocking things down without carefully considering the end result and how they are going to get there.
e&s: What are the most common mistakes people make when renovating a bathroom?
C: One mistake people tend to make is purchasing expensive feature pieces and then expecting to retrofit around them, without thinking of the whole picture. Often when people take on the renovation themselves, they can easily forget about practicality, as they don’t pick up the things that experts do. Another common mistake is the budget and sometimes people don’t realise how much renovations cost and how easy it is to go over budget.
e&s: What should I consider if I want to ensure my bathroom is sustainable?
C: There are so many options these days to make your bathroom sustainable and meet any budget. To save on hot water, choose an energy efficient hot water system. Today, you’ll find many inexpensive instant hot water systems on the market. The days when you had hot water sitting all day heating in a system are long gone! Solar hot water is another more long-term option. It’s pretty expensive to install, but considering how much sun there is in most of Australia, you can get a lot in return. Another great add-on is installing a circulating pump to your hot water system – it circulates the hot water throughout the pipe system, keeping water in the system warm to provide instant hot water as soon as you turn on the tap.
Simple greywater systems can also save lots of money by diverting water used for washing hands and showering straight into the garden. There are also some fantastic toilet designs that have a sink on top of the toilet, the water you use to wash your hands is then used to flush the toilet. Even simple sustainability measures like having a bucket in the shower to use in the garden can save water, it all adds up!
e&s: What should I look for when choosing sustainable fittings and fixtures?
C: The WELS rating is great for consumers to easily pick out sustainable quality fixtures. The more stars on the water rating label, the less water that the product will use, and the more money you will save. The standards are high and quite specific, which gives great peace of mind for novice renovators. Check out the Gessi Goccia Basin Mixer (pictured below) with a WELS rating of 4 stars.
These days it’s Australian standard for taps to have flow regulators and these automatically save much more water than older fittings.
There are a lot of innovative fixtures on the market that reduce water use, but still maintain the water pressure we all love, like aerating the nozzles so that the water pressure is enhanced with a mix of water and air.
e&s: Why should you use a licensed plumber?
C: There are so many things that can go wrong, but leaks are the most common. If pipes are not joined and glued correctly, or you don’t have the right equipment, this can easily happen. More complex things, like not understanding the needs of a gradient for drains, can result in backups of sewerage, not nice!
A lot of home renovators watch YouTube videos and think they can install plumbing themselves, but they often don’t realise that any work that isn’t done by a licensed plumber is illegal and therefore not covered by insurance. This can turn into a real nightmare if something breaks and a massive leak damages your home.
e&s: Do you have any horror stories that people can learn from when considering a reno?
C: I once had to deal with a situation where the homeowners thought they could install a toilet themselves. Unfortunately, they connected the toilet waste to an in-ground stormwater pipe, which fed into their rainwater tank. The water from the rainwater tank was feeding water into toilets for flushing and into the outside taps, and as this was connected wrong, raw sewerage was flowing into these. They didn’t realise this at first, so it became a pretty bad public health issue; pipes were blocked with toilet paper, the smell was horrific, and once fixed the owner had to clean all the sewerage out of their huge rainwater tank – not a fun job.
Visit your nearest e&s showroom and let one of our experts help you choose the best fittings and fixtures for your dream bathroom.