(Note: This is part of a longer interview with Adrian Kos of Vogue Bathrooms in Canberra. To get the complete interview as a free pdf entitled “The 5 Things You Must Know Before You Start Your Bathroom Renovation” , click here.)
What do I need to do to prepare for my bathroom renovation?
Interviewer: So, what do I need to do to prepare for my bathroom renovation? Can you describe the process before the work begins, give us some bathroom renovation tips for a client who is about to commit to a remodel?
Adrian: Sure. So, generally, when someone touches base with us, they’ll be at one of several stages. There’s people who you know, obviously, haven’t got a clue about how the renovation process works. They don’t know what inclusions they like, they don’t know anything. They just know they need their bathroom done. Other people have been planning for a long time, they know exactly the vanity that they want, they know the tiles they want, they know which way they want them laid. So, one of the first questions I ask a potential client when they call or email us–using the convenient forms on the VogueBathrooms.com.au website!–
Interviewer: Ha ha
Adrian: —I would ask them what stage they’re up to. So, we would do it on a client to client basis, really. So, to be prepared so that I can give you the quality personalized advice I give all clients, I would say to do a bit of research, go through magazines, go on Pinterest, go on Google, get a feel for what you like. Also, be mindful of the type of home you have. You want to be sympathetic to the style of the home you have. I mean, I don’t advise people to go for an ultra-modern bathroom if they’re living in a home that was built in the 60s. We can still update your bathroom and make it obviously new, but still, be sympathetic and have a little bit of that retro touch that will be sympathetic to the rest of the home, in that case.
So, it really depends on your taste, and obviously your budget. But again, do research, get a feel for colours, go into different showrooms, get samples of tiles, get samples of materials for your vanity finishes, bring them back home, even look at taps, some people like black taps, some people like different materials – aluminum, nickel; some people still want the traditional chrome taps. So, get a feel for what you like, then get a feel really for what you want to achieve. Do you want to just update the bathroom? Do you want to update the space? Do you want to make the space bigger? Do you want to knock out the wall between the bathroom and the toilet and rearrange the layout so you get a bigger vanity? You know, some people have a growing family so they need a double vanity for the kids growing up. They might have two or three kids so they’ll to have kids brushing their teeth at the same time. So, all these things would play into the renovation we do for you, what your situation is. If you’re a retiree, if you’re an empty nester, then you know, same thing, but it’s just basically will the scope of the project be to completely redo the bathroom or do you just want to update it. So, I give the very best personalized advice I can to each Vogue Bathrooms client, but it does help if you know what you like, your colours and your layout and obviously, your budget. You need to have a realistic budget, what do you want to invest in the bathroom?
Do I need to have design ideas before I start the renovation process?
Interviewer: Do I need to have design ideas before I start the renovation process? We have no ideas, can you help? My wife is worried the renovation won’t match the other bathrooms, the fixtures, the finishes, etc.
Adrian: Helping you arrive at a bathroom design that suits you is a big part of what we do, for clients who need it. Part of the service that we offer is we help with design, and we have in-house designers at the tile shops that we use. I’m not a formally qualified designer, but after several hundred renovations you can imagine I’ve got experience with design and thinks like matching colours that benefits my clients. So, you don’t have to have any idea. We can start from zero and then just throw ideas at you and you tell us what you like and what you don’t like. And we can basically play the process of elimination until you start getting a feel for what your taste is and what you like. We’ve found this process works very well for clients.
Interviewer: And you mentioned Pinterest and Google image search for ideas, there there’s no shortage of online destinations for more bathroom design ideas than you’d ever need.
Adrian: We would generally encourage you to do a little bit of online shopping or online browsing or even go around to showrooms and just have a look at examples and see what jumps at you, what you like, because lots of people don’t know what they like until they see it. Whereas other people might think they like a bathroom design feature because they see it in a magazine, but when they see it in real life they might be like oh wait, that’s not what I had in mind! So we work with clients, naturally. Some people are very easygoing, they’ll come in and spend 20 minutes in the showroom and they’ll pick everything. And I’m like wow, okay–are you sure? And they say that yeah, we’ve got a clear idea of what we want, and this is it. Whereas other people might spend, you know, half an hour looking at taps, really considering their options. We work with them–I mean sometimes people need a bit of encouragement to make the decision and ask me for help, what I think would look good or do in my own home? And maybe take recommendations based on that advice.
Interviewer: I imagine with your experience you can accommodate either extreme, they come in with a clear idea in mind, or no idea at all.
Our house isn’t too big. Are you able to work around us when we’re at home?
Interviewer: Our house isn’t too big. Are you able to work around us when we’re at home? If I have one bathroom, should we even be talking? Is a bathroom renovation even a possibility for me?
Adrian: Okay, yes, yes, it is. In this instance generally, what people do is they would use someone in the area, their amenities. So, even a neighbor, family, they might go to the gym, or shower at work. What we try to do when we do the toilet we try not to have the toilet out of action for that long. So, we would basically leave the toilet last and we would only do the demolition of the toilet right before the tiler has to start. Because there’s no roughing in involved in the toilet. So, we would leave the toilet for after we demo the bathroom. When we get the bathroom pre-sheeted, so when we get the plumbing, electrical roughing done, when we get the bathroom sheeted and at the waterproofing stage is when we would remove the toilet. The toilet comes out, we waterproof the floor, we waterproof the walls 150 mil around the perimeter of the room and then we would get the tiler in to do the toilet floor, to do the skirting, or generally people don’t tile all the way to the ceiling and the toilet, I advise them not to because it’s a waste of money anyway. I would basically suggest to go skirting and 1.2 m. of tile at the back so the toilet sits nice and hard up against the tiled wall. So, we generally get the toilet completed in three to four days, meaning the client will be without a toilet for three days rather three plus weeks.
Also we we generally don’t work without access to a client’s house. What we generally do is get a key off the client and we put it on a secure lock box. We have a code that we all know and use. And I know who goes into the premises at any given stage because I’m the one that does the organizing.
We have in the past had a client where they didn’t give us a key and it was difficult. We still did the job, but we had to work around their schedules. They weren’t retired, they were still working. So, I had to give them notice every time one of the boys was going across, but they needed me to give them specific times to the hour, which I couldn’t really do. As I tried to explain to them, if one of the boys has another job in the morning and he’s booked to do your place at midday, if his other job takes longer to do–he’s still going to do your job–but it might be at two o’clock or three o’clock. It’s like a doctor’s appointment. He’s not going to cut that appointment short to be at your job on time. He will take his time on that job, just like he will take his time on your job. So, this particular job dragged out, the people got frustrated, but I had to point this out to them that I can’t control the circumstances.
Like just this morning, we ripped out a job and found termite damage studs. So, I’m not going to say okay, I’ll be back tomorrow because I’ve going to be somewhere else, I will serve that customer first, right? So, generally speaking, I would not do another job again if people can’t give us a key and trust us with the property. In the 12 years Vogue Bathrooms has been in existence we’ve never had anything go missing or anything like that from anyone’s property. All our subcontractors have their Working With Vulnerable People cards and have done security police checks because Vogue Bathrooms does government work as well, so there is no need for anyone to be concerned, and I control everyone. I’ve been working with all my guys for a long time, it’s not like I pull randoms off the street to do my work. So, if I have to work around someone’s schedule, I wouldn’t do the job. I would politely decline that job.
Interviewer: Will we have a lot of building materials in our house?
Adrian: You won’t have any building materials in your house, the only thing that you will have in your house is clean materials. For example we will deliver your vanities, your tapware, etc. but that can all be stored in your garage. And that’s only going to be there for a day or so before we actually need it. It’s not going to sit there for weeks. We only bring it when we need it, and we generally bring it a day before we need it. So, if the plumber is going to your home at 7:30 on Thursday to do the install, we would bring the materials on Wednesday for him to make sure it’s all there. As far as the building materials, such as Villaboard sheets (a type of cement sheet that’s impregnated with waterproof material) architraves (the timber frame that goes around the doors and the windows), things like that, we bring the materials as we need them to the site. The rest of it gets disposed in the skip bins.You wouldn’t have any materials lying around in or outside of your house.