Issues surrounding Designing a Bathroom.

You may ask yourself, how hard is it to design a bathroom? Simple answer: It can be challenging depending on limitations and what the client wants. Being an architect specializing in designing four- and five-star hotels, these bathrooms come in all shapes and sizes, from your cheap standard hotel suite room to a presidential suite. But what are the common factors that dictate everything, floor area? You may not think about it, but what is critical is not what is contained within the bathroom itself but above the ceiling line because all the MEP services have to fit in this volume of space while complying with local building regulations.

What the hell has this to do with a simple residential bathroom“? Plenty, as things have to be thought out, what is the best design for the client while making the required services work? Suppose you have a postage stamp in the floor area; it will be damn hard vs having a tennis court to work with. So, let’s ask ourselves, what are the fundamental items for a bathroom to work vs. the luxury item?

First, the fundamentals.

    1. The room has to be “tanked”, made waterproof.
    2. A toilet
    3. A vanity basin
    4. A walk-in shower
    5. Floor and wall tiles
    6. A floor-waste (I’ll explain more in detail below)
    7. A mirror
    8. Ceiling waterproof lighting
    9. Towel rails.
    10. Anti-Mold waterproof paint for the ceiling.

Now the luxury items.

    1. A bathtub (this can be a standalone for one person or Asian built-in style meant for more than one person)
    2. A double bowl vanity (his/hers)
    3. Twin mirrors (round or rectangular)
    4. Side or back lighting on either side of the mirror(s)
    5. A concave mirror that is scissor operated & retractable.
    6. Granite vanity benchtop
    7. Built-in soap holder for the shower, bath, and vanity
    8. A small waterproof LED TV that is wall mounted & pivots allowing people in the bathroom to see.
    9. Air extraction unit to remove bad odours and steam from the shower/bath

Now, builders are notorious for offering alternatives to make things work in their favor. But this is where you employ site supervision as they are meant to be impartial and work to the spirit of the Contract. This is especially recommended on houses, so the owner is not inundated with information beyond his knowledge base. A site consultant is specialized in this field of work.

Point in case; the builder says to the owner, “you don’t need a floor waste, it’s just extra money that you can save”. Money normally picks up the ears of the person paying for everything.

Firstly, the floor waste is a get out of jail card encase any of your drainage pipework blocks up. It is an alternative means of discharge.

Secondly, if the floor wastes are cut out of the contract, you are entitled to a reduction in the signed off tender price. Documentation has to be submitted proving how much the tender price is to be reduced by. N.B. The price reduction will not be much. Talk is cheap but when it gets to paperwork the facts speak for themselves and the savings won’t be much.

Thirdly, Liability: If any flooding occurs because the floor wastes were removed and, for example damage to carpet happens, you are left with no redress unless you have this all down in writing – which I would be highly surprised there would be a paper trail. And there are a number of other legal limitations existing as well.

Fourthly, if you employ an Architect or Interior Designer, all materials will be specified to the enth degree (meaning technical specification) so the builder can put up alternatives that met the specification requirements.

Fifthly, there is a procurement period, if items have to come from inter-state or abroad time has to be allowed to acquire the product. You just can’t rock up to the local hardware store and purchase any old tile, vanity, or toilet.

Sixthly, the builder is compelled to submit product samples of what he will install which have to be signed off by the consultant or owner (and a photographic record is warranted), so no surprises are discovered at completion of the project.

Final note: If products are not manufactured anymore, or issues such as extra-long delays in shipping time, such as what happened during and after the pandemic, these can be deemed as force majeure. Force majeure means an act of God or natural disaster. These terms are commonly used in contracts to exclude one or both parties from liability and fulfill their contractual obligations when events beyond their control occur. For delays in the delivery time of products, extensions of time are warranted. Plus, liquidated damages cannot come into effect for the delay period.

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