When buying a new bathroom, calculate your budget and ensure you know what to expect for your spend to get the best value for money.

 Nouveau freestanding circular bath with shelf

Image: Nouveau freestanding circular bath, West One Bathrooms

Updating the bathroom is the second most popular home improvement, according to a 2020 study by Houzz. Its survey of nearly 7,000 UK homeowners found that the average spend comes in at around £4,000. Its bathroom trends report also revealed that 24% of us will budget less than £2,500 and 10% will invest more than £10,000 in the cost of their bathroom. But what are the differences between buying a budget suite and investing in a luxury design?

Budget bathroom cost

Freestanding bath, vanity unit and washbowls, from Bathrooms To Love  

Image: Manhattan unit, Layla washbowl, Ashbourne bath, Bathrooms to Love

It is possible to buy a standard bath, basin and loo for less than £500 in total. Research by Trend-Monitor and the Bathroom Manufacturers Association indicates that 38% of us favour shopping at a DIY store, plumbers’ merchant or out-of-town retailer.

For £2,000-£3,000 you will be able to mix and match entry-level and more high-end baths, basins and loos or buy a matching suite. Avoid the cheapest single-skin acrylic and steel baths and look for more robust fibreglass-reinforced acrylic or 3.5mm-thick steel.

At this price point, bathroom furniture is machine-made in limited sizes, with both fitted and freestanding ranges available. It will be made of melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) or medium-density fibreboard (MDF) faced or wrapped in vinyl, laminate, melamine or timber veneers. Flat-packed cabinets are cheaper than ready-assembled ones, but in either case it is worth checking for good-quality runners and hinges.

Most companies offer an in-store bathroom design service, but you will need to provide detailed measurements of the room. Some fittings and units can be taken home immediately. Otherwise, delivery takes a few weeks. Installation can be arranged independently, or through some stores including Wickes and Homebase.

Trade benefits 

Freestanding acrylic bath and walk-in shower enclosure, Victoria Plum bathroom

Image: Mode Foster acrylic bath, Made 8mm walk-in shower enclosure, Made Harrison square shower valve, Victoria Plum

Take advantage of available price reductions by asking your builder or fitter to buy the designs you want. ‘Many high street and DIY stores offer discounts to trade,’ says designer Rebecca Hughes.

Installers can also buy from trade suppliers such as Howdens – your tradesperson will provide costings prior to you committing to placing an order. If you prefer to shop online, many brands and retailers offer free planning tools and, in the case of Victoria Plum, a full installation service.

Read more: How to maximise your bathroom budget

Mid-range bathroom cost

Made-to-measure bathroom furniture, from Schmidt bathroom

Image: Arcos Edition furniture in Sencha and Grey, plus mirror, resin basin, tap and lighting, Schmidt

If you are one of the 20% of bathroom buyers who like to shop local and have around £4,000-£8,000 to spend, there are a wide selection of brands selling through dedicated showrooms or a network of independent retailers. Unlike the independents, a brand’s showroom will only carry its own ranges.

At this price point, there is a wider choice of bathroom fixtures, fittings, sizes and finishes, and it may be possible to customise furniture and shower screens.

Similarly, there are more options when it comes to materials. Along with quality acrylics and enameled steel, you will find baths and basins made from ceramics, composite stone, solid surfaces, cast iron and natural stone. Timber, MDF or high-grade laminate furniture expands the choice of cabinets and shelving.

You can expect to have access to an experienced designer for consultations, site visits and a measuring service, although this may incur an extra fee on top of the price of the products. Fired Earth’s home-design service, for example, costs £200 and includes detailed plans and samples.

Individual attention is one advantage of a design and installation package. ‘There will be a single point of contact from the moment you walk through the door until the final sign-off of the project,’ says David Roy, country manager at Schmidt UK. The timeline for delivery varies from company to company but will be in the region of four to ten weeks after an order is placed.

Read more: 5 modern bathrooms that embrace colour

Luxury bathroom cost

Boffi Flyer Iceland Pipe Solstice Giò Terra - boffi.com

Image: Flyer units in wood, Iceland solid surface basins, Terra solid surface bath, pipe brushed steel taps / showers, Boffi

Commissioning a one-off design allows for a bathroom tailored to your exact specifications. Turnkey solutions include everything from planning and installation to tiling and decorating. Furniture and fittings can be individually specified for unique sizes, shapes and finishes. You can also expect greater control over every aspect of the design, which will be exclusive to the project and completed using the highest-quality materials.

Hiring an architect or interior designer is one route, and benefits include expertise in making a budget work harder, plus access to extensive supplier and tradesmen contacts. Services range from a basic design proposal to full project management. Fees can be charged by the hour, the day, or as a percentage of project cost, so it’s important to establish the level of service you want early on.

Alternatively, use a bespoke bathroom company. Prices start at around £8,000, rising to £20,000 and more. You will be allocated a dedicated designer and can expect regular site visits, plus access to installers experienced in working with luxury and hi-tech products. ‘The time taken from design to delivery will be dependent on the project and products required, but can be anything from six weeks to four months,’ says Yousef Mansuri, head of design at CP Hart.


What's your most memorable bathroom from a Grand Designs home? Share your thoughts with us by tweeting us @granddesigns or post a comment on our Facebook page.



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