Bathrooms for First Time Buyers Buying Guide

Where to start

Our contemporary, space saving bestseller Metro Compact

If you’ve just bought your first home then updating a bathroom is a great way to put a personal stamp on your new property and start afresh. When it comes to what to consider, the top three constraints you may be working around are;

1. Space - perhaps your bathroom space is at a premium and your priority is to pay close attention to layout and maximising your use of the space without compromising on your growing needs in the years to come.

2. Budget - after paying a mortgage, conveyancing and deposit fees, you might be left with a small pot of money to work magic on a bathroom in need of TLC so your priority is making an impact cost effectively.

3. Making quality choices - whatever choices you make now as a first time home owner, you need to feel confident they’re the right decisions for you and your family with quality products you can rely on for the next 10+ years.

At bathrooms.com we’re passionate about finding design solutions that work around your needs and budget as a first time home owner. This guide is designed so you can design your dream bathroom on budget and potentially add value to your first home as a result.

Whether you’re staring at a dated avocado bathroom suite or you want to make the space more focused on your needs as opposed to the previous homeowners, it’s important to weigh up your options so your new bathroom stands the test of time.

Where to begin

Before considering which bath, shower or toilet option is right for your new home, first get a thorough understanding of the space you’re working with, the elements you want to keep and change and then pin down a realistic budget based on what you think you’ll need, not forgetting labour costs for installation.

What’s a realistic budget for a bathroom?

This is a common question for first time homeowners.

After buying your first property, you’d be surprised at the dramatic differences you can make to your bathroom on a tight budget with just a few key design changes.

The average cost for a complete bathroom redesign in the UK (including plumbing, tiling, flooring and labour) is estimated at £4,000 (source – Daily Mail, December 2015*). However, if your budget is smaller, costs can be heavily reduced by being clever with how you plan your space and DIYing where possible. We’ll be giving space and cost saving tips throughout this guide to help you make the right decisions. 

Prices can also vary depending on the size of your bathroom, and how much of the original bathroom you salvage. No matter what your budget, Bathrooms.com offer affordable bathroom solutions without compromising on durability and design. We recommend seeking quotes from experienced plumbers and tilers early on in the project which will help you set a realistic figure as labour charges can vary widely across the UK.

* http://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-3336666/The-one-cost-homebuyers-fail-budget-adds-10-000-year-moving.html 

Your options

There is a wide array of different bathrooms available to you to achieve a variety of different looks, from modern wet rooms, to traditional freestanding bathroom suites.

Knowing what is achievable in the space you have is the secret to successfully prioritising your household needs and defining the overall look and feel of the space.

We pride ourselves on producing practical bathrooms that fit with first time buyer’s lifestyles and budget without compromising on design, so no matter how big, small or impractical your space may be, we have the products to create your dream bathroom.

Let’s begin by looking at your options taking into consideration your constraints as a first time homeowner - space, budget and quality

Baths for first time buyers

Our Jansen Back to Wall LH makes the same statement as a freestanding bath, but needs less space in a layout.

Baths and showers are the biggest pieces in your bathroom so first decide whether you’ll have one or both, then sketch a room plan with your measurements in mind. If you can’t fit both a separate shower and bath, a shower bath will be a more effective and affordable option - we’ll cover more info on shower baths below.

If space and budget is at a premium, straight baths are a great choice as they fit neatly along a wall or up against a corner which makes best use of the floor space available to you. A model like our Sullivan is practical, stylish and offers a contemporary look at an affordable cost.

Straight baths come either with squared edge, or curved edge ends. If the end of your bath will sit in close proximity to your sink or toilet, a curved edge bath would soften the flow of the room and prevent bangs and scratches over the years, whilst a square edged bath will need a little bit more walking space around its perimeter to prevent clumsy knocks.  

If you’re set on having a separate shower cubicle and bath but have a small space to work with, consider a corner bath which gives the illusion of space because of its curved edges. Corner baths can be installed flush against 2 walls in any right angled corner allowing more room for the loo, sink and shower, adding to a better overall layout.

Ensure you end up with a bath that stands the test of time comfort-wise by considering how you like a bath to fit around you when in use. If you tend to soak in baths sitting upright, a flat base bath might be more comfortable for you. Alternatively if you prefer lounging, a bath like our Coates would provide sloped support to your back for hours of relaxation.

Add personal touches to your new bath by choosing unconventional taps that offer a design statement alongside practicality. Taps can either sit fixed to your bath towards the center or to one end, or above the bath tub with pipe work running behind a partition wall which will give a tidy look. Mixer taps with a shower head included are a great choice for ease of cleaning regardless of whether you’re opting for a shower bath or separate shower and bath. 

Top tip: Baths tend to be a standard size 1700mm. If you’re working with a smaller bath space, most of our baths can be ordered in 1600mm. Our smallest baths are our L and P-shaped shower baths at 1500mm.

Showers for first time buyers

As long as you have a head height of 1850mm+ a shower can comfortably fit under the ceiling or in the recess of a room

Choosing the right shower enclosure and tray for your bathroom design is an opportunity for you to add a personal and practical touch to your first home. Decide whether you want to make your shower a stand out feature in the room, or a practical place to wash as this will determine your design choice.

Walk in shower enclosures paired with an ultra slim wet room tray gives the illusion of space. They’re a deceivably inexpensive option with their cutting edge frameless design, and if you want a shower that’s low maintenance, ordering a single glass screen for a walk in shower as opposed to a shower cubicle, will be easy to wipe down and keep clean - there’ll be no handles or frame getting in your way.

If you prefer a step in, step out opening to your shower (which does lock heat in better than a walk in shower) sliding door enclosures are a more practical alternative to a 90 degree hinged door opening in small bathrooms. They save the space that the swing of a door would usually take up in a room giving you more floor space to work with. The minimum size of a sliding door enclosure is around 1,000mm to allow enough space for the door to open and close properly.

If your priority is optimising space inside the shower yet you don’t have space for a wider rectangular shower tray, quadrant and pentagonal shower enclosures tuck in nicely to a right angle corner whilst not losing valuable shower space - when in use, having your back to the doors of a pentagonal shower means you still gain the same amount of arm space as if you had a square or rectangular shower tray, but altogether it will take up less footprint in the room.

Having a less practical sloped ceiling or squeezing in a shower to the eaves of a bathroom can be difficult to work around but provided you have a head height of 1850mm for your shower space, we have shower screens that can be purchased in 15 different widths that are easy to fit. Remember to account for the floor height of your tray as this will minimise head space under sloped ceilings. 

Frameless screens are a great way to keep light running through a small bathroom with a feeling of spaciousness. Opting for adjustable hard wearing glass screens as opposed to hanging a shower curtain keeps the space feeling clutter free and is more hygienic.

Shower baths for first time buyers

Our L-shaped shower bath is available to order in 4 different sizes to suit your bathroom shape (1500mm, making it our smallest shower bath on offer)

The long term versatility shower baths can bring a home is unrivalled. They offer the convenience of quick showers, and the relaxation of baths cost effectively (you won’t be paying for the two separately).

If your first home is somewhere you plan on starting or bringing up a family, a bathroom with a shower bath is a feature you should consider for their practicality. Shower enclosures can be tricky for children to use whereas a shower bath is simply somewhere they can step into.

Our range of shower baths come as P shaped, or L shaped providing lots of extra room on the tap end of the bath giving you the same experience as showering in a spacious enclosure. The models come in lengths of 1500mm, shorter than an average bath. All models come with hinged shower screens measured to fit your bath perfectly, with the option of left hand or right hand hinge screens to suit the layout of your bathroom. So think carefully about the positioning of the toilet, sink and storage as you don’t want a hinged screen banging into your bathroom suite.

Toilets for first time buyers

If you’re changing the layout of your bathroom then you’ll need to think about the position of your toilet as the first port of call. Your soil pipe will dictate the position of your toilet so it’s actually best to plan your bathroom layout surrounding your toilet.

If you’re buying a toilet for a very small bathroom, under stair cupboard or ensuite, a corner toilet unit like our metro compact is a great space saving option as it positions the toilet out of reach from swinging shower screens or basins and utilises space in an otherwise redundant corner.

Wall hung toilets like our Rinaldi Signature, our most affordable in the wall hung range, are mounted and raised from the floor to give the clever illusion of space underneath. The cistern and pipework on wall hung toilets are usually hidden behind boxed in tiling or wall panels for a minimal look which can double up as clever use of storage space. It’s also worth considering toilets with a dual flush which are more environmentally friendly and will save your pennies as well as the environment.

Bear in mind that hidden cisterns and pipework must always be accessible if for any reason there is a toilet or drain blockage and your plumber needs access. Your tiler or plumber will provide you with simple solutions to achieving a boxed in look whilst making it accessible.

Top tip: When measuring for toilet installation give enough space on every side of the loo so that you can be seated comfortably. Not too close to your bath, shower or worse… your radiator/towel heater. Ideally allow 15 inches either side and 21 inches of legroom in front.

Basins for first time buyers

Despite basins taking up a small amount of space in a bathroom, the design you choose for your first home can transform the room and overall design. Wall hung basins are the most compact option for small bathrooms, our smallest being our Contour Designer basin at 340mm. If you are looking for a small basin that is high quality without the price tag, this is the most affordable solution.

Consider what your growing needs will be in years to come. If you’re to take into account the needs of family living, we’d recommend opting for a sink as large as you can suitably fit in the bathroom. Wall hung basins are better for small tasks like washing hands, whereas something like a counter top basin or inset vanity basin like the Cubitt Semi Recessed Basin would be perfect for tasks that may cause a splash such as washing your face and brushing your teeth. The larger the footprint of your sink, the less likely you are to find water on the floor when little ones are using it. For a happy medium between large and small, pedestal basins like the Metro Curve offer practicality and a real focal point to a bathroom as they have good depth, catching any splashes and hide unsightly pipework inside their stand. 

Countertop basins are a fantastic option for smaller spaces if your vision is to install one onto a shelving unit providing under sink storage for things like makeup, beauty products and razors. They can also give a style statement to a room when fitted in a suspended fashion below a mirror.

Top tip: Look for a basin with a fairly wide rim that can comfortably fit soap dishes or toothbrush holders on. This will save you space elsewhere in your bathroom, and all your daily products can be positioned within reach.

Bathroom suites for first time buyers

To promise a strong, cohesive design in your first bathroom refresh, you can opt to buy a bathroom suite to give you confidence that the individual parts in your bathroom will all match.

Purchasing one of our bathroom suites is a great opportunity to save money on your redesign. When purchasing products separately it can cost up to £100 more per suite. So if you’re thinking about only changing the bath and toilet, and you’re not sure how long your existing sink has left, it could be better value for money long term to buy a bathroom suite and replace everything, giving you a 10 year guarantee. 

Our bathroom suites can include a toilet, sink, shower-bath, freestanding bath or shower cubicle, depending on your needs, in a range of quality designs from clean line contemporary suites to the more classic and elegant models. Our cheapest suite is the Essential 3 piece, a popular choice for first time home owners who have a tight budget as it offers them quality design that’s built for modern living.

Top tip: If you have more than one bathroom in your home you could consider buying a bathroom suite and use individual parts across both bathrooms to spread your budget a little further.

Storage solutions for first time buyers

The plus side of owning your first property is having full permission to take storage solutions to the next level up that rented accommodation limited you with. During the redesign of your new bathroom, it’s important to take into account opportunities to incorporate storage space wherever possible.

For a start, bathroom cabinets are a great addition to any bathroom as they provide a home for unsightly razors, your stock of toothpaste and toothbrushes, and double up as a handy bathroom mirror. We offer minimalist bathroom cabinets, some made specifically to compliment your bathroom choice, most of which incorporate built-in lighting technology to optimise light in your space. Bathroom cabinet lights offer an ambient feel when the main light is switched off which could save you money in electrician fees had you have desired dimmer lights.

Further consideration for storage solutions could be to install countertop basins to a shelving unit, utilising the space where pipework would typically sit. Shelving above a toilet utilises wall space, providing a home for towels and storage baskets and is typically the cheapest storage upgrade you can give to your first home.

Radiators/towel heaters

If you’re redesigning a bathroom that’s dated, it’s common to find that radiators have been positioned in less practical places. A popular option in upgraded bathrooms is to install a towel heater in place of wide radiators. Apart from providing comfort and heat to the bathroom, towel radiators like our curved heated towel rail have a modern aesthetic that potentially saves space in a bathroom. Older heaters are typically wide, whereas towel rails are tall and thin giving you more wall space to install a wall hung basin, shelves or toilet. The Renwick towel rail takes up the smallest amount of space of all our towel rails, and is the most affordable option on our website.

There’s no doubt that towel heaters bring an unrivalled sense of luxury to any bathroom, given they keep towels warm and fluffy, but if you’re worried they may be too modern for your plans, look at our Arlo Traditional Radiator. It isn’t for cheaper budgets but it does offer a more timeless design that ties in with traditional bathrooms.

Bathroom furniture for first time buyers

Vanity units are a great way to utilise space under a sink and there are a variety available from bathrooms.com from £79. A corner vanity unit is a great option to conserve valuable space and a combination unit combines a toilet, sink and storage in one piece of bathroom furniture.

Alternatively, freestanding units are great additions for storage and give you the freedom to move these around your bathroom. You can also take these with you if you decide to move property rather than having them affixed to a wall.

Mirror cabinets are also a great way to utilise space that would have been taken up by a mirror and double this up as storage for medicine and other bathroom essentials.

The finishing touches

To finish off your bathroom redesign, don’t forget about all the ways you can enhance your space however small it may be.

Positioning large mirrors on walls will give the illusion of a larger room as light reflects from wall to wall, doubling the space size. If opting for pattern tiling either on your walls and/or floors, try not to focus on big, bold patterns in small areas. More detailed, smaller patterns in tiling is better suited to a smaller space as it is less busy.

As you would in any other room in your new house, make the most of lighting. If your bathroom doesn’t see much natural light, inset ceiling lights will brighten the room. Be careful as you are planning lighting changes as more often than not, faux ceilings have to be put in place to hide wiring. This lowers the ceiling height of your room so keep this in mind for your shower measurements.

If you have large windows and lots of natural light, introduce plants and elements of nature which will bring the outdoors inside, and don’t forget no bathroom is complete without candles scattered on shelving for ultimate relaxation.

To recap

Redesigning a bathroom you’ve long dreamed of that comes in on budget without compromising on design and quality is highly achievable.

The key is getting clear on the possibilities available to you and being realistic with your budget and space constraints whilst constantly taking into account your needs now, and 10 years down the line. With close consideration and clever use of small areas, you will end up with a bathroom that stands the test of time. A relaxing space for you, your family and future owners of your property, long into the future.

Good luck!

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