6 Steps To Transform Your Bathroom And Increase Your Investment Property’s Value

Date Published: 12/05/22

Ilse Wolfe 2021 09 27 021232

Ilse Wolfe

Renovations Coach at Opes Accelerate. Property Investor for 15 years.
Introduction

In the eyes of a potential tenant, a run-down bathroom is an unclean bathroom.

This is why it’s important for renovations-focussed investors to fix up and polish the bathroom as a part of any BRRRR project.

Improving a property's bathroom is step #3 on the Cashflow Hacking List – a 6-step approach to turbocharge any BRRRR project.

However, the more you shuffle or add to an existing bathroom, the more your costs go up.

So, it’s a fine line. You need to balance the increase in value you’ll get with the money you choose to spend.

In this article you’ll learn the top 6 things you need to think about to nail your bathroom renovation and create the ultimate renter’s bathroom.

Bathroom Renovation Opes
Step 1 - Add A Toilet

#1 The toilet to tenant ratio

When you renovate a property, you will often increase the number of bedrooms the building has.

The more people you can comfortably fit in a property, the higher the rent you can change.

But if there are more people in there, you’ve got to think about the number of toilets the property has. So, you’ve got to get the toilet-to-tenant ratio right when it comes to intensifying existing properties.

So, that’s why you must ask yourself “so I need an additional toilet?” when sussing out a potential renovation.

If the answer is “yes”, then the very next question is: Where?

Typically, a standard 3-bedroom home will have one existing toilet, in a separate room to the main bathroom.

This is generally fine, depending on your location and tenant expectation.

But if you then add a bedroom and make it 4-bedroom home, it’s usually a good idea to add a second toilet.

If you go even further and end up with a property with 5+ bedrooms, adding the extra toilet is non-negotiable.

At this number of rooms, you probably need to add another shower too.

If you are renovating older existing properties, they often come with a separate laundry.

So as a rule of thumb, that’s a good place to put these. But of course, the laundry has to be large enough to contain the new shower and/or toilet.

One other option (in some bathrooms) is to swap out a bathtub for a shower box, and place a toilet in newly-cleared space.

But, of course this all comes at a cost. And the most cost effective way to upgrade your bathroom is to keep it like for like. In other words, don’t get rid of a bath or existing shower unless you really have to.

So, bear your budget in mind when considering the latter option.

Also, bear in mind that a second toilet will always require council consent.

Step 2 - New Flooring

#2 The flooring of the bathroom when you change the floor plan

New flooring is collateral damage for any bathroom reconfiguration you choose.

For instance, if you move the toilet or bath, you’ve then got a blank space in the floor where you’ve got no tiles/vinyl.

And you’ll end up having to replace the whole floor.

So, if you don’t want to have to replace the flooring of the bathroom then you need to be strict and not shuffle the floor plan of your bathroom too much.

For instance, if you choose to install a new toilet, it absolutely must cover the footprint of the previous one.

Otherwise, you end up with an ugly “crescent-moon” footprint where there was an old toilet.

Flipping property strategy before vs after

Now, if your bathroom has normal timber floors, it’s not usually an issue and you don’t need to do anything.

But if there is existing tiling, you need to make sure to cover old footprints otherwise the only fix is finding identical tiling – that's not easy to find.

In terms of flooring, vinyl is the best for water resistance.

Step 3 - Timeless Fittings

#3 Go for timeless fittings and avoid the fads

There are so many trends with tap fittings. A few years ago, matte black was the go-to. Today it’s brass and copper-coloured taps.

But, regardless of price or material quality, any tap with a coating on it will wear and break down.

So, following the latest trends will ultimately increase your replacement costs.

And because the bathroom is a highly-used room, when renovating you really must consider durability versus cost.

That’s why it’s better to stick to stainless steel or metal for fittings. These are hard-wearing and timeless. So they won’t break as quickly and will still look good even as the trends change.

Remember to never go for a trend over function. Inoffensive fittings will appeal to everyone and won’t fall out of favour in a few years.

You also want to think about lighting.

Good, functional lighting is key to any bathroom. Think about either LED down lights that go into the ceiling or a ceiling-mounted oyster light.

If it suits you can install a backlit mirror. It looks great and can add appeal, but it will depend on your budget.

Step 4 - Replace The Bath

#4 Replace baths with something more useful

Unless the property is going to be tenanted to a large family, a bath is not necessary.

But it also depends on where your rental is located.

For instance, if your rental is in a lower-socioeconomic neighbourhood, the bath won’t be used as often. That’s because of the price because of both the price of water and the cost to heat it.

If it’s in a wealthier area, then you might consider keeping it.

Regardless, sometimes baths take up too much space that could be better used. For instance, by replacing the bath with a shower box and toilet like discussed above.

Top tip – pay special attention to an existing shower-over-a-bath set up. That’s because you have two water sources already available in the room,

That means you can use one for the shower box, and the other to direct water to the second toilet.

Step 5 - Consider The Water Cylinder

#5 Make Sure The Water Cylinder Is Big Enough

The capacity of the water cylinder needs to be considered, when increasing the number of bedrooms within a property.

More rooms equals more people, which means more people using the hot water.

An existing 3-bedroom house will usually have a 135L low pressure hot water cylinder.

For a 4-bedroom house, you’ll need to upgrade to a 180L mains pressure cylinder.

For anything 5 rooms plus, you’ll need a 230L mains pressure cylinder.

While you’re thinking about it, you’ll also need to think through storage, especially if you’re planning on using the property as a room-by-room rental.

That’s because your bathroom could soon be accommodating 4x toothbrushes, 4 sets of shampoos and other items – and they all need to go somewhere.

Bathroom Renovation

But if you’re short on space, there are ways to boost the storage for essential items.

For instance, you can use a mirror-cabinet or install a vanity that has good storage.

It’s a good idea to always go with the higher-capacity vanity options. Or if it’s a wall hanging vanity, make sure there’s enough space to put stuff underneath.

Step 6 - Consider How Waterproof

#6 How Much Is Too Much To Waterproof A Bathroom

The bathroom is going to have to deal with a lot of water and moisture during its tenure, so you’ve got to think about hardiness.

For example, never kit out your renovation with anything that will absorb moisture from the air.

While it may have been done in the past (cringe), don’t put carpet or wallpaper on your shopping list.

Remember, anything that can lift, will lift. Think wallpaper, the corners of cabinetry (if not properly sealed). You don’t want materials that will start peeling away from the wall.

A new paint job offers a great, cost-effective finish for any bathroom. But if you want to level-up, tiles offer better durability for splashback.

Yes, tiles have a higher investment cost but you can stagger it to meet your budget.

For example, you might choose to tile half the wall, rather than tiling the whole lot.

Labour will usually cost about $60 per square metre, which at my 20-30 square metre recommendation can become a lot more expensive. But it will last really well.

And most importantly, don’t forget that every bathroom needs an extractor fan.

Bathroom Renovation
How Much Does It Cost?

How Much Does It Cost To Renovate A Bathroom?

As a ballpark, you should expect to pay in the region of $6,000 to $7,000 for a bathroom renovation.

But this is made up of both the fittings and the workmanship required.

To start with, the actual fittings are remarkably cost effective.

Here’s your typical shopping list for a new basic rental bathroom:

  • Heater towel rail
  • Shower box
  • New toilet
  • Vanity
  • Tap wear
  • Shower rail and tap

All up, this list should cost you up to, but not much more than $3000.

From there, it’s up to you to get costs from your tradesman (e.g. plumber, electrician and builder).

If you don’t have a pressing timeline, you can start to acquire the pieces over time as they are on special or on sale.

Don’t be afraid to hunt for bargains, and it’s totally OK to opt for function and the lower-cost selection to keep the overall design cost down.

For instance, a couple I worked with were able to renovate their entire Whangarei bathroom for just $3,500 because they shopped for specials.

And it’s not like they skimped either. The entire refresh involved removing a wall to include the toilet in an all-in-one bathroom, a sink upgrade from just one to two sinks, tiling, and painting.

Conclusion

Main Takeaways

At the end of the day, you need to take the principles from this article and apply them to each potential investment.

As you do this, you’ll notice that in some instances these principles just won’t work – for whatever reason. It’s important to recognise this before getting attached to a property.

For instance, if you’re looking at a 5-bedroom property but can’t find the space for a second toilet – then it’s often a good idea to walk away.

There will always be an easier property to fix-up tomorrow.

My advice always is: If you can’t make it work, don’t force the result.

For more information on a coaching programme for renovations-focussed investors head over to Opes Accelerate

Ilse Wolfe 2021 09 27 021232

Ilse Wolfe

Ilse Wolfe is a property investor and the director of Opes Accelerate – a coaching programme for renovations-focussed investors. She regularly appears on the Property Academy Podcast and has written articles for both Informed Investor Magazine and Property Investor Magazine.