Bathroom renovation cost

What are the current costs and trends in bathroom renovations?

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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, updated on August 5th, 2021       

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Your ultimate guide to bathroom renovation cost in Australia

Bathrooms are the one of the costliest rooms to renovate. There are many aspects of bathroom renovations to consider, including how extensively you wish to renovate, the average costs, and how to finance your build without going over budget.

Next to a kitchen, a bathroom is the largest and costliest room to renovate in an Australian home. According to a study by Houzz, Bathrooms were the third most popular room to renovate in 2019 (17%) followed by living rooms (20%) and kitchens (23%.)

In 2020/21, according to the Home Industry Association, there was an available pool of 233,000 bathroom renovation jobs – a decrease of 22.2% over the previous year. Additionally, there has been a 4.8% increase in the price of skilled tradespeople for the year up until March 2021. This has been caused by government measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, which prohibited tradespeople from visiting homes in some states, such as Victoria.

The survey found 66% of bathroom renovations were made in homes 11 to 20 years since initial build.

The Houzz study also cited that plumbing was the top home system upgrade in 2019/2020 (31%).

How much does a bathroom renovation cost in 2021?

In a survey conducted by the Home Industry Association, the average value for a bathroom installed in a new home was $18,304 while the average renovation for a bathroom cost and average of $19,085. A similar Houzz study showed that a Master Bathroom median spend for renovations cost $13,000, while other bathrooms cost about $10,000 (2019). Spending went up by 8% for the master bathroom, while it went up by 25% for other bathrooms.

According to Open Agent, a budget or partial bathroom renovation in a small bathroom can cost as little as $5,000 while a major or complete renovation in a larger bathroom can cost $25,000 or more. According to ServiceSeeking.com.au, luxury bathrooms may cost anywhere between $35,000 to $60,000.

According to Mark Sheppard, director of Mark Sheppard Bathrooms and Renovations, Canberra regions' largest and most professional wet area specialist who undertakes around 200 renovations per annum, the average work component from a quality renovator is around 23k plus products 8k-13k plus asbestos plus government or council approvals and inspections.

“We do a lot of research on end of contract costs. The average renovation runs between 34k and 45k completed. Telling client[s] that a reno is 18k is unrealistic because most clients need full renovations,” said Mark Sheppard. 

“We surveyed over 400 people that had renovations on non fixed price contracts, completed in 2020 and 90% of those renos ran over initial budget. The reason being the work component is only a proportion of the total end of contract cost when adding PC items such as shower screens, vanities, tapware, toilets etc., asbestos removal, Council approvals and new electrical work etc.” said Mark Sheppard. 

Accounting for size, the average bathroom renovation costs $1,600 per square metre. Basic renovations may cost about $1,400/m2 while premium bathrooms with higher grade materials cost upward of $2,400/m2.

Bathroom renovation cost infographics

How do you finance a bathroom renovation?

According to the Houzz survey, 80% of renovators are funding their bathroom do-over with their own savings.

20% said they’re using a credit card; 14% said they’re drawing on equity. (It adds up to more than 100%, because people are using multiple funding sources.)

Using your own money is risk free – it’s already yours, so why not use it? A bathroom renovation is not only a monetary investment but a lifestyle investment.

However, using a credit card or home equity can cost you more in interest than some alternatives, such as taking out a personal loan.

Budget overruns can happen and forking out more by tapping into your equity or slapping big costs on plastic can mean higher interest in the long-term.

Let’s assume you require $15,000 for the build. Let’s weigh up the options and see how much interest you’ll pay based on making the same repayments as a personal loan: $314 (or keep the same repayments as your current mortgage.) We also assume you have $200,000 equity in a $700,000 home.

Source Interest Rate Term Interest Paid
Credit Card
18.99% p.a.
Personal Loan
7.99% p.a.
5 years
3% p.a.
25 years
$6,339 (extra)

Though you will have to apply for a personal loan, the total interest paid in this example is half that of the extra on your mortgage and a quarter of what you’d pay in interest if you used a credit card.

How much does labour cost when renovating a bathroom?

According to a survey conducted by online services site ServiceSeeking.com.au (n=52,000) tradespeople that specialise in bathroom renovations charge about $65/hr. The cheapest rates bottom out at about $50/hr, while more premium renovators charge upwards of $80/hr.

Other costs to consider when renovating

Other costs you need to consider when renovating is whether you’ll be using temporary accommodation if the build is particularly disruptive. You will need to find an alternative place to wash and bathe each day, which may mean driving to a friend or family member’s house.

Cost overruns can also happen due to supply cost increases, underestimated complexity, or a change of mind in terms of scope or materials. According to Houzz, 25% of renovation projects come in overbudget (less than over 25% of the original cost) – only 3% come in under budget.

Additional labour hire may be required if tradespeople discover asbestos in your home, as this requires specialist removal.

Differences between renovation options

There are a few options you can choose when renovating your bathroom – and some are more cost-effective than others.

Partial Renovation

A partial renovation usually involves updating your shower with new tiling, screens, waterproofing, fixtures & fittings, and installing a new vanity, mirror and/or towel rail. This option can give your bathroom a fresh new look, while dealing with any issues of water damage. It does not involve any rearrangement of the current layout. If you are only replacing one or two elements of your bathroom, it can also be considered a partial renovation.

Complete Renovation

A complete or full bathroom renovation is a complete remodelling of a bathroom space, which may include waterproofing, painting, new ceiling, light-fittings, new fixtures & fittings, and changing all the tiles. It allows you to completely strip out your old bathroom and start again from scratch. Rearranging the configuration of the bathroom will need a strip-out of the existing interior, replumbing if you wish to rearrange your toilet, shower, or vanities, and rewiring to match the new layout or to install new appliances such as heated floors, heat lights, fans, or other bathroom amenities.

NOTE: if your existing bathroom has been constructed with asbestos, is suffering from water leaks, mould damage, or other structural issues, your bathroom will require a complete renovation.

Home Care Renovation

A Home Care bathroom renovation is for those who need more functionality from their bathroom due to limited or declining mobility. This may make use of government incentives so a householder may install additional safety features.  A bathroom renovation of this kind could enable people on Home Care to live safely and independently at home for longer. Some of the safety features added to a bathroom can include grab rails, non-slip tiles, shower seat and greater wheelchair accessibility.

Additional Bathroom/Ensuite Addition

This requires building a bathroom where one didn’t exist before – or splitting an existing bathroom into two. This option often means a complete remodelling of your existing bathroom while adding additional walls, doors, and features to create a new bathroom space. These require the most subcontractors, materials, and architectural time and are usually the most expensive type of renovation.

How material types influence price

The material you select for your bathroom can greatly influence the price of your bathroom. Most bathrooms will use tiles over the walls and floors, which has a significant impact on your budget. Tiles can come in matte, gloss, polished, and textured styles, with the latter designed as a non-slip tile.

These are the three common types of tiles found in contemporary bathroom renovations:

  • Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are a common tile which comes in gloss and matte finishes and are a non-rectified tile. You can find ceramic tiles in different glaze colours, as well as concrete, marble, and natural stone look. Ceramic tiles are often more cost-effective than other types of tiles.

  • Porcelain

Porcelain tiles come in polished, Lappato and Matte Finishes. Porcelain is much harder tile than ceramic. These are a type of rectified tile. They come in different appearances like concrete, marble and natural stone. Renovators can lay porcelain tiles in various patterns to give a more natural look. Some porcelain tiles come in a timber look. Porcelain is much costlier than ceramic but has more variety in terms of looks and textures.

  • Stone

Natural stone comes in honed, polished finishes. Stone tiles come in various types such as marble, granite, and travertine. They come in many sizes and thicknesses for various applications. Stone tiles are able for laying in various patterns to give a more natural look. Natural stone is usually more expensive than ceramic but comparable to porcelain.

  • Rectified and Non-Rectified Tiles

All tiles come in what are known as rectified or non-rectified tiles. Rectified tiles are tiles that have been machined to give them a near-perfect surface, edges, and dimensions. They are used in symmetrical looks and have fine grout lines – sometimes 3mm or less. This gives them a uniform presentation. Due to higher machine tolerances, it’s unusual to find rectified tiles smaller than 300mm x 300mm. This gives rectified tiles sharp edges. Non-rectified tiles are “traditional” style tile. They are described as “pillow edged” or “soft-edged” which feature deeper grout lines.

  • Tapware

Tapware can also influence cost. Tapware is used in the vanity, shower, and bath (if applicable.) Cheaper tapware can be made of plastic or ceramic, but most tapware is made out of some type of metal. Simple chrome-plated brass is at the low end, with brushed brass, nickel, gunmetal, or copper looks occupying the luxury end of the market.

How to design a bathroom – even if you’re not an expert

Designing a bathroom can get complicated easily – but it’s best to ask some simple questions first. Planning a bathroom renovation can take almost 10 months and the build itself about five. 

How to design a bathroom?

Know what you require

You should have a good idea of what kind of renovation you want – a strip out and replacement of everything you had before (partial), a complete redesign (complete) or an addition or splitting of two bathrooms into ensuites.

Your budget

Beyond your requirements, you need to know how much you are able to spend on the bathroom. Though figures of $10,000-$20,000 are averages and estimates, each space and home is different – and some complications such as re-waterproofing or asbestos removal may have to be considered.

Use state design guidelines

State design guidelines usually boil down to reviewing your available space to satisfy the guidelines. These are “like for like” replacements of existing amenities and an alternative layout, if you are working toward a complete renovation. State guidelines also indicate you should engage a specialist design consultant to refine your bathroom layout.

Who will be using the bathroom in the future?

Is this bathroom just a cosmetic upgrade or do you need more function? Are you expecting children in the near future – you may want to add a bath. Are you growing older and finding it harder to get around? Hand holds and other non-slip surfaces may be required.

What type of vanity will you need?

Basic vanity units can come with cupboards under the sink, free-standing sinks, and many other combinations. These can range from plastics, more expensive ceramic sinks, porcelain, stone, metal, and others. Materials can also vary for the cupboards such as wood, plastics, and etc. These can match your aesthetic as you like – but some are pricier than others.

Tiles and tapware

Tiles are often the biggest expense of your entire bathroom build, as they will cover a substantial portion of your bathroom. Choosing the right tiles for the look and feel is important; as is the tapware.

Toilets, baths, and showers

Toilets and showers are usually the mainstay of any bathroom, and you need to decide on what types you’ll have. A bath may also be a consideration, especially if you are planning on children – or just like a dip now and then!

Set everything in stone

Don’t change your mind half-way through the process – make sure everything you’ve designed and budgeted for stays the course. One of the main causes of budget overruns is a homeowner changing their mind part-way through the process. It leads to more labour, more parts, and higher costs.

3D bathroom designer software

Some bathroom renovators or contractors may be able to “visualise” your bathroom using 3D software. This way you can get a reasonable approximate look of your bathroom before you commit to any particular materials or configuration.

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