A bathroom renovation project can be very complicated. It often involves numerous different tradespeople, impacts other areas of your house, requires 30+ different fixtures and fittings, and can be very disruptive to your normal routine. The advice given online, by friends and family, and on TV shows is always the same: make sure you get at least 3 quotes.
However, there's always a "but". How do you know that you're comparing like-for-like prices? More importantly, how do you make sure you're getting exactly what you're paying for, and that there won't be any nasty surprises that put a dent in your bank balance once you've had your toilet ripped out?
To help you navigate this process, we've outlined the top 5 things to ask any tradesperson who quotes on your project. Make sure they include these in their prices.
1 - Fixtures, Fittings, and Tiles
This is typically the starting point for people looking to estimate the cost of a renovation project. However, it's also where many mistakes are made for various reasons:
• There's an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to bathroom fixtures and fittings, with varying quality and a wide price range.
• Often, there are a select number of manufacturers that sell the same products to different suppliers who then brand the product with their own logo, SKU, and price tag. This makes it difficult to know if you're getting a good deal.
• There are more fixtures to pick than you might realize. Let's take a bath, for example. Often, people will send us a link to a bath and a tap, but you also need a bath waste, bath panel, shower screen, handheld shower hose, shower head, mixer valve, and more.
• You don't always get clarity on the exact product you're buying. We've been asked to quote on work where the customer has an existing quote that simply lists "traditional shower." A quick search will show you that this could be a high-end Burlington shower costing £900 or a Chatsworth shower costing £200.
To ensure you get value for your money, follow these steps:
• Make sure any quotation lists the specific products you're purchasing so that you can compare prices from other suppliers.
• If you're buying the items yourself, speak to the supplier and check that you're ordering all the constituent parts needed for the item. For example, a vanity unit might need a top, drawer insert, basin, and basin waste.
• Don't forget to factor in delivery costs, which can often be in the hundreds of pounds. If you can buy your full suite from one supplier, this is often a good way to get free delivery. Additionally, make sure you have enough room for all the items to be delivered to your house.
• Remember, this is your bathroom. Don't let any fitter push you into choosing a certain item if you don't want it. Fitters often work directly with suppliers and get good deals on certain items, but make sure the item is right for you, not just for them.
2 - Waste removal
It's no secret that ripping out an old bathroom can generate a lot of waste materials, including the old bathroom suite, plasterboard, broken tiles, cable offcuts, and scrap copper pipes. On our projects, it's not uncommon to have an entire flatbed truck full of bagged waste ready to be taken away. Unfortunately, much of this waste is difficult to recycle (although we try to feed any good-condition bathroom suites back into the circular economy whenever possible), so removing it is often expensive.
You should expect any quote to charge between £250 and £450 for waste removal from the site. If a company charges significantly less than this, it should raise alarm bells. Incorrect disposal of waste can lead to a £5000 fine and criminal prosecution, putting you, the homeowner, in hot water.
To protect yourself, make sure you follow these two simple steps:
• Ensure that any company you or your contractor uses has a Waste Carrier Licence. They should be ready, willing, and able to share this information with you.
• When the waste is collected from your home, ask for a Waste Transfer Notice. This is a legal document specific to the company that shows they have taken responsibility for the waste from you. It's a physical document that should be handed to you on the day.
3 - Parking charges
This document is mainly focused on projects in London. Although it may seem minor, the cost of parking can quickly add up during a project. Keep in mind that your tradespeople may arrive in two different vehicles, travel through the congestion zone, and pay for parking every day for up to three weeks. These costs can quickly mount up. We recommend budgeting around £150 to £300 for parking during the project's duration.
4 - Consumables and building materials
You’ve got a clear understanding of how much your fixtures and fittings are going to cost (and that’s the fun part) but it’s also important to get a rough guide on how much the consumables and building materials are going to cost. This could include anything like silicone, plasterboard, tile back board, insulation, screws, grout, adhesive, water tanking kits, skirting board - the list really is endless. It’s quite reasonable that a tradesperson might struggle to give you an exact figure here and they may also choose to group it into their “install” cost - that’s totally fine, just make sure you’re not being expected to write a blank cheque without an upper limit.
5 - A transparent day rate for additional work
Renovation projects can have unforeseen issues, such as discovering that the wall is in worse condition than expected after removing old tiles, or finding out that floorboards are rotten and need replacing. To prepare for these situations, it's recommended to have a contingency fund (10% is a good level) before starting a project.
To further ease your mind, consider asking your tradesperson what their day rate for labour is before starting to work with them. This can help you plan for unexpected expenses that may arise during the project.
Our quotations come with the added benefit of taking on the risk, so you don't have to worry about unexpected costs. However, there are two exceptions: structural issues and rot.
At Toolbox, our aim is to make the renovation experience as hassle-free and simple as possible for you, the homeowner. Any quotation you receive from us will include all of the above as standard. You'll also be given a dedicated page on our in-house software, which you'll use to approve the specific fixtures and fittings for your project. All of our quotations are fixed, so you won't have to worry about sudden and unexpected price increases to cover problems that arise when your existing bathroom is ripped out.
We understand that not everyone will choose to work with Toolbox for their renovation project. However, our founders started the company after becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of the construction industry in the UK. So, we only ask that you protect yourself by getting a full picture of the costs involved, no matter who you decide to work with.