Modern bathroom with beige tiles, freestanding bath and frameless glass shower

When you’re starting a bathroom renovation, there can be a lot of information to wrap your head around. How to find a builder. Expected costs. How the process works from start to finish. So many questions!

Here at Farmer Constructions Sunshine Coast, we complete around 50 bathroom renovations every year. As bathroom renovation specialists, we love to help demystify the process, so you know what to expect and can confidently approach your renovation.

How do you start a bathroom renovation?

As with any major project, the first step to starting a bathroom renovation is to do your research. It’s essential to know what you like (and what you don’t), what you aim to achieve and your approximate budget.

Spend time brainstorming with your family, look at other bathrooms, draw some rough designs, set up a Pinterest board or visit some display homes for inspiration. List your “must-haves” and “good to haves”. Our article 15 on trend bathroom renovation ideas is a great place to start.

It’s essential to have a good idea of what you want before appointing a builder. Builders can usually provide tips based on our knowledge and experience but we recommend engaging a professional designer if you’re unsure about your design.

A designer can bring your desired style to life, provide colour consultation and help you choose tiles, fittings and finishes. A new bathroom is a substantial investment, so it’s worth speaking with a designer to help you make the big decisions (and the little ones) before you get started.

We use and recommend a local designer who we can connect you with if required.

What should you look for when choosing a bathroom builder?

  • License and insurance: Ensure the builder is fully licensed and insured. Some trades, such as carpenters and plumbers, may not have the correct licence. To complete bathroom renovations or new bathrooms in Queensland, a builder should have a minimum Builder restricted to kitchen, bathroom and laundry licence. Farmer Constructions has a Builder – Low Rise License, which requires a higher level of qualifications and experience.
  • Experience: Check they have experience with bathrooms and ask to see photos of bathrooms completed. (Check out some of our completed projects.)
  • Information: Obtain as much information about the builder as you can. Check their website and any other digital presence such as social media and news articles.
  • Reviews: Check reviews on Google, Facebook and other locations such as HiPages and ask if they can supply references so you can speak directly with previous customers
  • Faultless tiling: Ask about their tiler. With so many bathrooms going for a full tile look at the moment, faultless tiling is critical to the overall look of your new bathroom. Ask to see photos of the tilers’ work. The image below demonstrates the exceptional work of Farmer Construction’s tiler in a double herringbone tiled shower niche.
  • Specialists: Always ask who will be carrying out the work. It is a massive red flag if the builder is doing everything themselves. The highest quality results are achieved by using multiple trades who are specialists in their field.
White doubel herringbone tile feature in shower niche

How much does it cost to modernise a bathroom?

The cost of a bathroom renovation depends on the size and scope of the project, the amount of work involved and the fixtures and fittings chosen.

A complete bathroom renovation by Farmer Constructions is around $20,000 for a small size bathroom.

What are the stages of a bathroom renovation?

  1. Research, planning and budgeting.
  2. Engaging a builder or project manager.
  3. Layout, design and drafting.
  4. Exchange contracts and organise insurance.
  5. Stripping or demolition of old the bathroom.
  6. A carpenter installs new frames for niches, fixtures and fittings.
  7. A plumber installs roughing for new pipework.
  8. An electrician roughs in new wiring and wires up new lighting or appliances.
  9. Plasterers come in and line all the walls.
  10. Waterproofing is applied to the walls and floor.
  11. The tiler places the screed for the shower tray, creates floors then fully tiles the bathroom (or installs minimal tiling if it’s only the shower area, bathroom floor and tile kickers).
  12. Installation of shower screen, bath and vanity.
  13. The plumber fits toilets, mixers and shower accessories; the electrician fits LED lighting in cabinets, extractor fans and lighting; and the carpenter installs towel rails, toilet roll holders etc.
  14. If floor to ceiling tiles are not being installed, a painter will paint the remaining walls.
  15. Tidy up, inspection and end contract.

In Queensland, which areas of a bathroom need waterproofing?

Australian Standard 3740 and the Building Code of Australia provide minimum guidelines for waterproofing in wet areas, including bathrooms and laundries.

  • All walls must be waterproofed up to 150mm.
  • The shower floor must be fully waterproofed and the walls up to 1800mm
  • If a rain head shower is installed in the ceiling, waterproofing has to go to the ceiling.
  • Bathroom floors constructed from wood must be fully waterproofed.
  • Floors of bathrooms on the second storey or higher must be fully waterproofed.

How long does a major bathroom renovation take?

Australian Standard 3740 and the Building Code of Australia provide minimum guidelines for waterproofing in wet areas, including bathrooms and laundries.

Most bathroom renovations completed by Farmer Constructions Sunshine Coast take around four weeks from demolition to completion. Add extra time for the planning, design and contract stages.

How can I reduce the cost of remodelling a bathroom?

Tiling is one of the most expensive elements of a modern bathroom. Choosing standard tiles measuring 300 x 600 mm or 600 x 600mm keep costs down. Tiles that are larger or smaller (tiny feature tiles) cost more to lay due to the additional laying time. You can also reduce costs by choosing painted rather than tiled walls. 

Keeping all the main elements of the bathroom in place can result in a significant cost saving. Removing or changing walls and plumbing takes a lot of additional work and time. Remodelling what you have without changing the locations of various items means you can achieve a modern bathroom without additional expense.

Is it ok to buy cheaper fittings?

We always recommend shopping around for fittings and finding a balance between quality and price that suits your budget and your family’s needs.

With bathroom supplies, you get what you pay for. We use and recommend high-quality standard fittings that last the distance. However, you can always choose your own.

It’s OK to spend less on anything that can be swapped over easily in the future, such as items that can be unscrewed and replaced.

Any items fitted into the wall and tiled over should be purchased with longevity in mind. If the item fails, repairs will involve removing sheets and tiles and could be costly. Choose quality fittings for wall mixers, in-wall bath taps, etc. that will last 15-20 years.

Bathroom renovation Sunshine Coast with white tiles and cabinetry

Do you need council approval for a bathroom renovation on the Sunshine Coast?

Council approval is not generally required for upgrades to bathrooms inside the home without wall changes or extensions. If the project involves moving internal walls or major extensions, you may need to consult with a private certifier before getting started.

If I work with Farmer Constructions, where on the Sunshine Coast will I get supplies?

Farmer Constructions will provide a list of preferred local suppliers so you can go shopping! Clients can visit the stores, chat with salespeople and obtain advice, pricing and a quote. The supplier sends us a quote based on your selection. We pay for the selected items and on-bill you.

What are the little surprises that can happen during bathroom renovations?

The nature of bathroom renovations is that there are sometimes little surprises that need managing along the way. It’s best to be aware of these so you can ask questions before we get started.

Asbestos: For homes built before 1990, it is best to get the walls checked for asbestos before contacting a builder. The presence of asbestos can have a significant impact on pricing. If a builder comes across asbestos, a contract variation for asbestos removal will be required.

Rotten timber: it can be difficult to tell the condition of structural timbers behind walls when quoting. In locations where waterproofing has failed, timbers may be damaged and require replacing.

Dodgy previous workmanship: once a builder begins work on a project, it becomes their responsibility. If we come across any dodgy work completed by past trades that does not meet the building code, we must rectify that work.

Termites: termites thrive in damp, wet timber and can infiltrate bathrooms where leaking has occurred. A builder must stop work and arrange inspection and treatment if termites are discovered. Work is halted until an inspection and clearance certificate are complete.

We maintain regular communication with clients as the project progresses and raise any issues encountered along with a suggested resolution. Any contract variations required are discussed before additional work is executed and included in a variation document that both parties approve and sign.


Ready to build your dream bathroom? We are here to help.

Get in touch with Farmer Constructions on 5492 9409, complete the form below or email us for an obligation-free quote.

Contact Us

Get in touch about a Home Renovation, Outdoor Area or Bathroom Renovation