Plumbing – Bathrooms and Toilets

Everyone has an opinion about Toilets and Bathrooms even if they aren’t too bothered about other rooms. (I used to be involved in Airport Design. At project meetings million dollar concrete decisions used to take less than 5 minutes but when it came to a few thousand dollars for the toilets it was at least 30 minutes per meeting as everyone wanted their say)

Having said that here’s my opinions:………

Overall

After the kitchens the bathrooms are usually the next most expensive rooms.

Its worth thinking carefully about the cost of fittings as you may find very similar fitting to those you ‘Love’ at half the price.

White fittings don’t date, and are easier to match if you want to choose units from different ranges.

A floor drain is a definite for me, convenient if you have young children who like to splash in the bath and a good safeguard if you get a leak.

Ensuite

Shower – I think the days of shower trays are long gone. Having a walk in shower means you can have a larger shower, much better than the minimum size.

Wash basins I have previously posted about One Basin or Two so the only other comment is “Think carefully about what basins and mixers you need, it can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost.”

Toilets Lot of choice but look at the prices before you pick. I have seen similar looking toilets with a $500 price difference

Bidet? Well I have never had one but if you like the idea why not. A possible cheaper alternative may be one of those Japanese devices that fit on the toilet.

Bathroom

The differences between this and the En-suite are:

Bath We have always had a bath as I occasionally enjoy having a soak, and they are good for bathing children. If you are planning on getting a spa bath you are probably going to need a larger hot water service!

Shower I’m not a big fan of over the bath showers, getting in and out can be difficult, particularly for elderly visitors, so I would always go for the separate shower.

Toilet I don’t mind having the toilet in the bathroom but you may have different ideas.Do you need a separate toilet?

Washbasin – To my mind there is not much point in having a separate toilet unless it has a washbasin. If you don’t you still need to use the bathroom to wash your hands. I have known large families particularly with lots of girls to have a full vanity unit in the separate toilet, or even in an alcove near the bathroom.

 

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Plumbing – External

All new Australian houses come with one external tap next to the water meter……..but what other external plumbing might you need?

If you are on an estate with Recycled Water you will have two meters and two taps although they will probably be next to one another.

Here some thoughts about other external plumbing:

Garden Watering

A friend of mine said he needed a tap at each corner of the building and from my experience I think he was pretty right.

Our existing house has one tap at each side and at least one more would be useful.

Ideally these taps should be supplied from either your recycled water supply, or your tank water supply.

Al Fresco / Outdoor Kitchen / Barbeque Area

Whatever you call this area at least a cold water supply will be useful.

If you have a sink, and it is near the other hot water services a hot water tap may also be worthwhile. (If its some way from the house it will probably be a waste of time as it will take too long for the hot water to come through.)

If you have a gas barbeque and you have mains gas think about extending the gas supply,

Mains Gas costs less than half the price of bottled gas and doesn’t run out in the middle of a barby.

Back Door and/or Garage Wash Basin

I usually wash my hands in the laundry trough when I come in from the garden but some swear by keeping all garden and garage dirt out of the house.

Outside Shower

I have seen a couple of examples of this where the bathroom has an external door and an outside shower.

It looks really good for summer use. . . Just make sure you have good privacy screening!

Swimming Pool

  • Supply for topping up, preferably rainwater.
  • Shower, do you want hot or are you happy just with cold.

Rainwater

See the Rainwater section of the sustainability category for more information on this subject.

 

What’s your most important outside plumbing?

For similar posts see Plumbing

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

 

 

Plumbing – Are You Getting Hot Water?

One of those things I have never got quite right is hot water plumbing.

This means running the taps for a while to get hot water.

In the morning I switch the shower hot water on and can have a shave before the shower is ready to jump in.

Some Suggestions

The key thing is to get the hot water service close to the taps, or showers that are going to be used the most.

The usual site for the hot water service is outside the laundry.

That made sense when people used lots of hot water in the washing machine.

Now with cold wash detergents it’s probably the showers that use the most hot water, especially if you have teenagers who want to spend half an hour in the shower.

The more you can group bathrooms and the kitchen the sooner you will get hot water, and the less water that will be wasted.

If you can’t do this and you have a big house perhaps two separate hot water services or several small instantaneous hot water heaters may be the way to go.

Not Easy

In the last house I built I thought I had got it reasonably correct.

The laundry, 2nd bathroom and the kitchen are reasonably close to the centre of the house as is the hot water service.

What I hadn’t allowed for is that the kitchen sink is in an island unit.

The pipe run the plumber chose was up into the roof, past the island unit to the wall, down the wall, under the floor, and then back up to the sink. That’s about three times the amount of pipe than if the run had been direct under the floor to the sink.

It uses more cold water to get to the hot water through to the kitchen sink than our ensuite, which is further from the hot water service.

I suppose I should have discussed the actual pipe runs prior to signing the final contract!

 

For similar posts see Plumbing

 

Safe Hot Water

Did you know that around 90 Australian children are admitted to hospital each year due to scalds from the water from the tap, with many will requiring skin grafts.

Disabled and the elderly are also more at risk of scalding injury.

The water doesn’t have to be boiling!

Water at a temperature of 65 degrees C will cause full thickness burns in 1 second, even at 60 degrees it only takes 5 seconds.

Those boiling water taps (pictured) for making tea are particularly dangerous

Solar hot water systems can be a problem particularly  in summer

They can heat water up to much higher temperatures than the normal maximum of 65 degrees for gas or electric hot water systems.

Making it Safe

If you have a gas or electric system set the maximum temperature to 50 degrees C. If you are not sure on how to do this get a plumber to make the adjustment.

This will not only improve safety but save you money as the system won’t loose heat as fast.

If you have a solar hot water system make sure the tempering valve is fitted and set it at 50 degrees which will automatically mix cold water with the hot water if the hot water is above the preset temperature.

If you ‘must’ have a boiling water tap do set it right at the back of the counter where tiny fingers can’t reach!

 

For similar posts see Plumbing

 

Separate Toilets?

Most house plans show a toilet in the master bathroom but a separate toilet in the other bathroom……………. Why?

Maybe it’s because you don’t want visitors to see the bathroom, but where are they going to wash their hands?

Is it because you want somewhere quiet to go and read?

In England the only time people generally had a separate toilet was downstairs when the main bathroom with a toilet was upstairs.

I used to hang my college certificates in the downstairs toilet in one house. . . . That’s because I think you should never be in a dignified position when you are reviewing your achievements.

To make your house more accessible for a disabled visitor, or even old or injured family members, it’s easier for the toilet to be in the bathroom.

To get an idea go and look how a disabled toilet is organised in your local shopping centre.

I suppose if you have a big family queuing for the bathroom it might be a problem but then I would have though the best thing would be, rather than have a bathroom and a toilet to have two shower rooms each having a washbasin and a toilet.

With the shower rooms being smaller than a bathroom they probably wouldn’t take up much more space than a bathroom plus toilet.

Perhaps in one room you could have a half bath rather than a shower tray so you could still be able to give small children and babies a bath.

Must have a separate toilet

If you really want a separate toilet, as many people do, here are a couple of reasons why you might think of opening the door outwards rather than inwards as is typical.

    • You can make the toilet area a bit smaller which can help fit it in.
    • If someone passes out they will most likely fall forward against the door. If the door opens inwards how would you get them out?

One question I haven’t resolved is how should you decorate a separate toilet and should you install magazine rack?

After all reading on the toilet is the only time most of us men do any multi-tasking.

 

As you can see I can’t take this issue too seriously so here’s an appropriate web page: Strange Toilets

N.B I hope you liked the photo of the Avocado Bathroom. . . it was very trendy when we were re-modelling our first home

For other posts about House layouts see Plans

For Toilets see Plumbing

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

 

Twin Basins – Is It Worth It?

When we first came to Australia and started looking at display houses we often saw En-Suites with two wash basins.

We thought it looked fairly classy so that’s what we got in our first Australian new house.

Ever since we have always gone for a single basin. . . here’s why:

  • We found that we are never in the bathroom at the same time.  Even when we used to travel to work together I always got up first to take the dog for a walk which gave my wife a clear run.
  • Having a single basin gives more counter space on the vanity. (sometimes too much!)  We do have fairly strict demarcation lines. My wife’s stuff is on the left and my stuff is only allowed on the right.
  • Having one basin with only one set of waste plumbing leaves more room in the vanity cupboards for fresh towels, hair dryer, toilet rolls, spare toiletries, etc, etc.
  • Cost saving of basin, tap fittings, and labour. Even with basic fittings this gave us a few hundred dollars we could use on things we really wanted. If you have expensive plumbing fittngs the savings could be thousands!

Will you have twin basins in your new house?

 

For similar posts see Selection

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists

in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

 

Braided Hoses Problems

Have you got one of these flexible stainless steel braided hoses?

This is one fitted to my toilet.

They were initially mainly used in inaccessible areas.

These days being fairly inexpensive they are often used to make all sorts of connections easier.

Problems

According to this article in ‘The Age’ they are responsible for one in five of all water damage claims.

It seems they have a limited lifespan.

Many braided steel hoses are used in accessible but closed areas where heat, moisture and fumes can react with the woven mesh, causing  corrosion that leads to hose failures.

Things like chemicals, stored in under sink cupboards, can also further shorten their life, by causing deterioration of the internal hose.

Having sharp bends also makes them more prone to failure.

If you already have these hoses make sure you regularly inspect them and change them at the first sign of damage.

 

How To Make Your Bathroom A Wonderful Retreat – A Quick Read Will Help For Easy Execution!

A guest post by Hubert Dwight

Whatever the reason to remodel your bathroom, planning will go a long way to make each of your house spaces complementing the other.

Don’t overspend; smart planning about the improvement is a must.

Your one and only aim should be spending less and making the most of what is available, for instance bathroom renovations in Brisbane….and, to do this, create a checklist of what you need; what the budget is; and how a wise investment is possible.

Remember, to make your bathroom a wonderful retreat, you have to ensure its functionality.

And, saying no to the rest, here are a few more things to consider –

Want To Get A Feature Bath? Think Again

If you have no plan to sell the house soon, do not plan for a ‘Feature Bath’.

Fashion will have changed, but the expense will have an immense impact over your bank balance.

Rather, look out for a basic tub, which suits your regular use and also adds to the value of your property.

Remember, cost of the product must be commensurate to its importance in your life.

A comfortable nice-size bath is going to work wonders.

How Have You Imagined Your Shower?

A modern bathroom without a separate shower does not justify the tag.

But, the concern is how to make your showering experience better and worth the expense.

The unlimited showerhead choices on market is likely to leave you bewildered.

Right from single shower head to multiple rain shower heads, you get myriad number of choices and choosing what suits your needs the best might make your head spin.

Keep in mind that with each better choice, the cost goes higher and at some point, you can see yourself slipping out of the budget.

What’s more, the placement of the shower setup, which should be the way plumbing and replacement (if needed later) can be done handily.

And, do not pay for needlessly complicated shower faucets.

Safety Measures Are Essential

It would not be wrong calling a bathroom an accident prone zone.

It will be wet and slippery, so the chances of fall are higher.

What is wise is getting a couple of permanent safety bath mats and install it besides the tub with the help of suction cups or you can also opt for non slip bath mats for the use in the shower.

Besides, there are grab bars, which you can attach judiciously on the wall nearby bath tub to help yourself raise and come out holding.

Some of your older neighbours may be installing a shower bench as they don’t feel safe taking a standing shower.

Make An Arrangement To Sit

If your bath in built in you can extend the edge make a place to sit and relax or have a bench.

The advantages that come along with such arrangements, include easier shaving legs, self pedicures, and easy application of moistening creams.

Considering the low cost to this, it could probably be rolled into your current budget.

Keep Reading Materials Near The Loo

Sounds quite intellectual, or at least an opportunity to read in peace, right?

Well, enough with smartphone browsing, how about doing something conventional.

Keeping reading materials nearby the loo can be a good idea, but you have to arrange a space for that first.

In many contemporary bathrooms the loo is installed besides the tub. And,maybe you build some shelves at the bottom of your tub section to store some easy reading.

Why A Condensing Hot Water Service Is Worth The Extra

If  you are considering an instantaneous gas hot water service there are normally two options.

  • A standard unit
  • A condensing unit which typically costs around $300 more.

So what is the difference

Standard Unit


The standard unit has a single heat exchanger to transfer the heat from the gas burners to the water.

Typically the exhaust gas leaving the unit is in the order of 200 degrees C.

This means the maximum efficiency of the unit is around 80%.

Condensing Unit


The condensing unit has an additional heat exchanger installed above the main heat exchanger.

It uses the waste heat from the final heat exchanger to pre-heat the water.

The exhaust gasses are thus much cooler, typically much less than 100 degrees C.

This means efficiencies of up to 95% can be achieved.

Savings

An increased efficiency means that the condensing boiler can save you up to $100 in the first year.

It should pay back the additional cost over the first three years and then be saving you money for the next 9-10 years.

That sounds like a bargain to me.

 

Kitchen Costs – Sinks

One of the most expensive rooms in your new house will be the kitchen.

For the purposes of research I spent an hour looking through my local Bunnings.

Just concentrating on stainless steel double drainer sinks I found they stock over 20 different types.

Prices range from $118 right through to $1,553.

That’s 1300% increase.

Want a ceramic sink and you could double the cost again. . . . and that is just one small part of the kitchen.

You have got to select taps, counter tops, cupboards, cook tops, ovens, range hoods.

I’m not saying select the cheapest of everything . . . just remember the more you spend on the kitchen the less you will have to spend on the rest of the house, or you may finish up with an horrendous mortgage.