Planning a bathroom with your clients
Before refurbishing, renovating or building a new bathroom, sit down with your client to establish what kind of space they have in mind.
A serene space where they can enjoy a relaxing soak at the end of a long day?
A clean, efficient space where they can simply get showered and set for the day ahead?
A large, practical space that can cater for a large family?
This information is vital. Not only does it help your client get things clear in their mind, but it means you’ve got a better idea of the space you’re working with – and what kind of fixtures and fittings you’re going to be looking for when the time comes.
1. Build a better bathroom ticklist
When you’re talking to your client about what they do and don’t like about their current bathroom, you might find this checklist helpful. It goes into lots of detail, so you get a specific idea of what your client needs.
What kind of bath would they like?
- Bath with a door (can be sourced)
- Free-standing bath (with legs)
- Free-standing bath (without legs)
- Shower bath
What kind of shower would they like?
- Separate enclosure with door
- Hi-tech shower with jets
- Wet room style shower
- Extra powerful shower
- Shower with a seat
- Child-proof shower
What kind of washbasin do they need?
- Single basin
- Two basins side-by-side
- Corner basin
- Basin with storage
- Floating basin
- Basin with pedestal
- Space saving basin
Where would they like the toilet positioned?
- Floor-mounted toilet
- Wall-mounted toilet
What kind of storage do they need?
- Cleaning Products
- Bath toys
- Toilet Rolls
What kind of storage would they like and how much?
- Hidden storage (e.g. under the basin)
- Floor to ceiling cupboards
- Small, mirrored cupboards
- Slim shelving
- Open storage racks
- Compact or minimal storage
What kind of flooring are they looking for?
- Solid Wood
- Something else
What kind of wall finish would they prefer?
- Fully tiled
- Partial wall tiling
What look are they going for?
- Fresh and clean
- Boutique hotel
- Luxury spa
- Warm and homely
- Clean and simple
2. What kind of bathroom project is it?
Cloakrooms and small bathrooms
You might find yourself installing a cloakroom downstairs, often in a tight space, such as a former cupboard under the stairs. Alternatively you may be converting an upstairs box room into a small bathroom.
A cloakroom or small bathroom suite may be comprised of no more than a toilet plus a basin, though it could include a shower too.
Either way, you make sure that your measurements are spot on.
After all, you’ve probably come across cloakrooms where the measurements haven’t been done right, so you bump your knees on the basin when you sit down on the toilet – not a good finish!
Guest bathrooms & en-suites
These days, it’s not unusual to come into a master bedroom and spot an en-suite bathroom – even if the bedroom is on the small side. Parents like them because it gives them somewhere private to wash, leaving the main bathroom for the children or for people staying over.
If space is at a premium, a simple suite comprised of a basin, toilet and shower cubicle will do the job. Mostly, it will be used for having a quick morning shower, so simple and practical are the watchwords.
These are often found in upmarket hotels, but something you’ve probably been getting more enquiries about over the years. Clients like wetrooms because they look nice – modern and contemporary – but also because they’re easier to clean, being just an enclosed space with a showerhead mounted on the wall.
With a wetroom of course, it’s all about the waterproofing. How many horror stories have you heard about wetrooms starting to leak and the installer having to rip everything out and start again?
Drainage can’t be taken lightly either. You always make sure the floor has a sufficient incline to allow effective water drainage. You may also need to install a drainage tray under the tiles, too.
It’s funny how often clients say they’re not really bath people, that they prefer showers. But of course, if they’ve got children then they’ll definitely need one.
Then there’s the question of basins: one or two? And again, if your client has a big family, do they want to invest in two? It will certainly help everyone get ready and out the door more quickly in the morning.
Where does the shower go? In its own standalone cubicle with a door, showerhead and screen over the bath, or a walk-in with a glass screen? If the water pressure is weak or gravity fed, you may want to discuss installing a pump.
3. Assembling the right team
A bathroom refurbishment is pretty labour-intensive. Even the most experienced hands can use a little help – if only to get things moving that bit quicker.
You may need a joiner to actually create the space. There may be walls to erect, doors to reposition, counter-tops or vanity units to build and fit, plus storage solutions to integrate.
After that, your plumber can come in to do his first fix, getting any pipework that needs sorting taken care of. You will also need to get a electrician in at this stage too.
If the ceilings need doing, or there are walls that need making good, then a good plasterer is always handy.
After that it’s the turn of the tiler who can take care of the counter tops, floors or walls.
Finally, to make all your hard work look as perfect as can be, you’ll need a good decorator.
4. The right tools for the job
Pretty much all the tools you need to install a bathroom will be familiar to you. You’ll almost certainly have them in your tool kit.
Clients appreciate it when you bring dust covers and masking tape to protect any surfaces, as well as floor protection sheets and some way for you to clear away any debris both during and after you’ve finished.
5. Measuring up
You want to get the most out of the space available, so you measure up carefully. Inexperienced fitters sometimes fall into the trap of measuring the dimension of the room first, whereas it’s actually the floorspace that’s more important.
In most cases you fit the new fixtures and fittings around the existing pipework. But now and again you come across those clients who have a very specific idea of what they want in mind… and don’t flinch at the prospect of significant plumbing work needed to reroute things.
Another thing easy to overlook is the space you lose when you open doors, either the bathroom door itself, or a cupboard door. No one wants the door to bang on the toilet every time they open it!
Helpful tools for bathroom measuring
6. Mobility bathroom planning
For people with mobility problems, a well-planned bathroom is very important. Being able to maintain their personal hygiene by themselves gives them a reassuring sense of independence.
If you ever install a bathroom for a client with mobility issues, there are a number of important considerations to bear in mind:
Both the washing facilities and the toilet need to be in the same room.
Ideally the bathroom should include both a bath and a shower – though this may be compromised by a lack of space, or financial considerations.
The bathroom should have 1500mm x 1500mm of clearance space, to allow someone in a wheelchair to turn full circle.
The doorway must be a 1000mm and allow at least 900mm of space for passing through. You could fit either a sliding door on the outside of the doorframe, or a standard door which opens outwards. Any lock you fit must be able to be opened from both inside and outside the bathroom.
The main ceiling light needs to be a closed diffuser light. The light-switch should be fitted on the outside of the bathroom, 90cm – 100cm from the ground. If your client would prefer a light-switch inside the bathroom, then this should be fitted with a pull-cord.
Likewise, if you’re fitting an extractor fan, the same rules apply. Pull cord inside the bathroom, or on-off switch outside.
Non-slip plastic mobility rails are preferable over metal rails. If your client prefers metal rails, they will need to be earthed.
Under-floor heating may cause problems when you come to fit mobility rails to the floor.
If your client is after a warm, tranquil atmosphere in their bathroom, or a fresh, clean-feeling space, getting the lighting right is crucial.
In order to comply with building regulations, a fully qualified electrician must carry out any electrical installations.
Knowing the light numbers
Any lights fitted in a bathroom must be IP rated up to a certain standard. The IP (instrument protection) rating consists of two numbers. The first (from 0-6) tells you how well the light is protected against solid objects – like dust, for example. The second number (from 0-8) refers to how much protection it offers against water penetration. In both cases, the higher the number the better.
Your electrician is responsible for ensuring you have the right fitting for your bathroom, but it’s still useful information to have.
Does your client want dimmer lights, so they can create the right mood?
In the shower, do they want a down-light with an extractor fan built in?
What about lights to the side, or around the bathroom mirror? This can help clients where more light is needed, such as for shaving or make-up application.
If you’re installing cupboards, does your client like the idea of putting lights inside so it’s easier to find things?
8. Bathroom storage
Given the relatively small size of a bathroom, storage solutions need to be innovative. It’s often helpful to just ask the client straight: how much storage do you actually need?
Are there any products that the client wants to have on display, or easy access to? Toothbrushes and toothpaste, might be one. Bundles of towels could be another. Should they go on a shelf or in a cupboard?
Does the client have children? If so, do they want somewhere smart to chuck all the countless bath toys that usually live in and around the bath?
How much stuff do they actually want to store? Encourage them to have a clear out, chucking away anything that’s been hanging around unused for a while – then see what’s left.
Minimising what they need to store will not only make your job a bit easier, it will also make for a cleaner, less cluttered-feeling space.
The main question for your client with regards to heating is, are they happy with just having radiators or do they want to add in little luxuries, like heated towel rails, or underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating works well in a bathroom, especially if the floor is to be tiled – protecting bare feet on chilly mornings!
Installing water-based underfloor heating means lowering the level of the floor in order to fit the pipework – is your client ok with this?
The electric underfloor mats are a less labour-intensive alternative… but of course they tend to cost more to run.
10. Bathroom Layout Planner Tool
Once you know what you’re actually going to fit in the new bathroom, you’ll draw a plan. Just to pin down where you are going to place each piece of the bathroom suite.
Our Bathroom Planner tool is quite handy in that it lets you create and print different bathroom layouts, so that you can give your client a few options.
What should be considered before bathroom renovation?
Understanding the kind of space your client wants before you begin will be vital for the renovation. See above for a helpful checklist, so you can get a clear idea of your client’s needs.