A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell

Choosing the bathroom and en-suite sanitary items

Even when working to a budget, there is still a huge amount of choice out there

The design or period of a house is always going to be a factor when deciding what style of bathroom suite to choose. It is possible to mix & match contemporary and classic styles, if you're careful, but we decided to go as contemporary as possible, to match the house. The tricky part is to create a bathroom that still looks 'wow' but without going overboard with the cash.

There are numerous High Street and online bathroom retailers available, for the cost-concious buyer. We thought this would actually make it harder to make a decision, but in the end it comes down to a little bit of shopping around, talking with other people and a couple of key factors, which have pretty much made the decision for us.

Talk to other people

There are a few friends and colleagues who've had new bathrooms fitted fairly recently, so it's been good to get some juicy info from them, about who they chose as their supplier and why... as well as what the end results are like. There is always a danger of listening to other people too much without trying them out first yourself, but it's hard not to swayed when you're spending your own hard earned cash. Not only that, but people who've had bad experiences are much more likely to share their horror stories, than those who had a smooth run, so we're trying to make our own minds up.

We heard from friends who had a nightmare with ordering their bathroom suite from B&Q. I heard from a friend who's finishing touches (shower head and fixtures) from Victoria Plumb weren't up to scratch at all. And we've heard from people who've had general difficulties with all the big players on the High Street. I think if we could afford to go to a specialist bathroom supplier, we would... as much for the customer service, as for the superior products. Maybe next time.

How will Sir being paying?

Having done a little research into the prices and deals available - and given that the bathroom suite has only been very loosely costed for in the overall budget - we've opted to use Finance for this purchase.

It seems that most of the big players are able to offer this, although their deals and interest rates do very quite a bit. At the moment though, it only seems to be Wickes offering 0% Interest Finance and that's for 2 years as well. At the moment, it's going to be hard to beat that offer, which is why our initial research into the actual products available, have been focused on the Wickes range.

Go and take a look yourself

You can usually get some great bargains when shopping online - and you can even get some better prices when buying online from High Street retailers. However, we want to actually see what we're getting first, before placing an order, so have pretty much committed to buying from a shop or DIY warehouse, where we can see them in the flesh. I'm really fussy sometimes about things like build quality, so it's essential to go and have a play.

We've been to see what B&Q have to offer, but weren't overly impressed with their contemporary bathroom range - and sometimes the showroom models are pretty beaten up and don't fill me with confidence on how well they're made.

Homebase do a decent range of bathroom products and they seem much better quality. There's been nothing which set me alight though - and unfortunately their Finance deals aren't as good as Wickes.

With Wickes, they have a great variety of products to choose from, but this means not every store has all of them on display. We're going to have to hunt around a bit I think, to find the ones we like in an actual showroom. They have quite a few contemporary ranges in their catalogue, so we've been compiling our extensive shortlist from these.

My prime focus is the style of the suite and how it will look in the bathroom spaces. Then it will be about the price - as I don't mind paying a little more get what we want. The 0% Interest Finance will definitely help with this, as we'll feel much less pain when spreading the cost over 2 years.

Cardboard cutouts

Our focus at the minute though, is about the actual dimensions of the products. It seems that baths and sinks have fairly standard overall dimensions - while toilets can vary more. So we've been measuring out the outline of our preferred products and cutting them out of cardboard, to actually lay out in the floorspaces. This has been a great help in trying to envisage what the layout will be and what the spacing will need to be between each item.

There needs to be enough knee-room and shoulder-room when sitting on the toilet. There needs to be enough elbow space when washing in the sink (I'm a nightmare for bashing my elbows on things!!). And it's nice to have as bigger bath as you can, so you can enjoy a nice soak, as well as have a bit of space when using the overheard shower.

After a bit of playing around with the sizes and positioning, we've pretty much finalised the dimensions of the items we can look at. Additionally, we've confirmed that a corner toilet in the main bathroom would be better for knee-room and shoulder-room, than having it fitted straight, in that corner of the room. I think that with a little bit of diagonal boxing-in around the vent pipe, this should be achievable.

Next entry: Floor damp-proofing and insulation (Monday 8th December 2014)

Previous entry: Wall ties - going ‘eco’ starts small (Friday 5th December 2014)

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