​Adding an en-suite bathroom? Here’s what you should know

​Brixham House, Tye Architects Tye Architects Modern bathroom
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The dream for most of us is to have an en-suite bathroom that allows scampering between bed and bath (or toilet, or sink) to become so much quicker and easier. Fortunately, creating an en-suite (doesn’t matter if you prefer ‘en suite’, ‘ensuite’ or ‘en-suite’, it’s still the same thing!) isn’t that much different from creating an ordinary bathroom; however, seeing as it forms part of your overall bedroom scheme, it does provide some extra considerations. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious bedroom that can be partitioned off, then adding an en-suite bathroom could be a fabulous way to up your home’s sense of luxury. And let’s not forget how having an en-suite influences your home’s value in a positive way (as any professional Bathroom Designer will undoubtedly agree)!

But before you start dreaming about what color textiles you’re going to have in your en-suite, let’s consider a few practical matters first…  

1. How much does an en-suite bathroom cost?

When combining labour, fixtures, fittings and finishes of a typical bathroom, the average cost of adding an en-suite bathroom is about £3,000. But keep in mind that the final amount can vary depending on the location of your bathroom, as well as finishes and size. 

To save costs, it’d be better to add an en-suite directly to an existing bathroom on the same floor, or above a bathroom on the lower floor. The reason for this is because it becomes more costly to redirect plumbing, especially soil stacks and waste pipes. And even though a small bore pipe with a macerator can be installed, this solution is not ideal. A plumber’s day rates will also need to be factored in, but the amount of time such a project will take is quite difficult to determine. 

After the plumbing has been sorted, it’s much easier to estimate how much the appropriate fixtures and fittings will cost. 

• Bathtub: Your typical low-end, acrylic model will cost from £70, yet a good-quality steel one can cost from £300 to £500. 

• Shower: A basic electric shower is the most cost-effective option (to buy and use), starting out from £50. Expect to pay between £100 and £200 for a stylish and functional unit. £200 is the minimum you can expect to pay for a power shower.  

• Shower enclosure: A crucial decision, for this will influence the overall look of your shower. A typical shower tray and enclosure combo can start out at £150, but can climb up to about £600 for a higher-quality model. 

• Wet room enclosure: Depending on the structural work, a wet room enclosure can cost upwards of £500 (which includes waterproofing, plumbing, the shower and a screen). 

• Basin: Available in various materials and fitting methods, bathroom sinks can severely alter your final price. A simple ceramic one will cost upward of £50, while bespoke models made for vanity units can start out around £100. 

• Toilet: While a simple ceramic, wall-mounted toilet costs around £50, higher-quality designs will come in between £150 and £300. 

• Faucets and hardware: Although generally afterthoughts for a bathroom, these are vital factors that can definitely impact the final paying price. Expect to pay as little as £20 for a basic mixer, and upwards of £400 for a really luxurious design.

2. How big must an en-suite be?

With all the essential elements included (shower, basin, mirror, towel rail, WC and appropriate lighting) in a well-planned layout, a typical en-suite bathroom with minimum dimensions can work out around 1,5m x 1,3m. And with the help of a seasoned bathroom designer, you can ensure you make the most of your space. 

Keep in mind that one can only go so far to save space (like using a corner basin, corner shower, etc.). Going too small (the smallest size for a practical shower is 80cm quadrant) will just result in a bathroom that’s most unpleasant to use.

3. Does an en-suite require Planning Permission?

If the work is happening in an existing house, then no Planning Permission is required. But if you want to add your en-suite bathroom to a listed building, Planning Permission becomes vital. 

Remember that your project must also comply with building regulations. Should your new en-suite bathroom require rewiring, drainage alterations, the installation or changing of a heating system that uses gas or solid fuel, and structural alterations, then approval from building control is needed. 

Remember that all electrical work must be conducted by a qualified electrician, and that any work to boilers or heating systems must be carried out by a Gas Safe-compliant engineer.

4. Building new walls for an en-suite

If your en-suite bathroom is created out of a completely new room or partitioned in an existing room, then extra walls will be needed. These will normally be stud walls created with a timber frame with plasterboard over the top. To avoid dampness problems, pick water-resistant plasterboard. 

For a bathroom, structural metal components that support the weight of wall-mounted basins are available. This cavity in this type of wall is also ideal for hiding piping, cisterns, wiring and extra storage. 

Excluding internal works (like plumbing and wiring), building a stud wall will cost around £15 per m², and this needs to be planned beforehand.

5. Heating and plumbing for an en-suite

Planning on using a combi boiler (which provides hot water whenever needed instead of requiring a cylinder)? Then you must ensure there is a sufficient flow of hot water for your extra bathroom. And check that your water pressure is sufficient for your mixer taps and shower fittings. 

If you want to use heated towel rails instead of radiators, expect to start paying from about £30 for wall-mounted options. High-end designs can cost as much as £500, which excludes installation.

6. How to link your en-suite to your bedroom

Lots of people opt for open en-suite bathrooms with a doorless, open-plan layout that makes the bedroom and bathroom flow seamlessly into one another. This can make your en-suite bathroom feel lighter and roomier, yet cancels out the privacy factor. 

To make the designs of your bedroom and en-suite bathroom work: 

• Choose furnishings and accessories for both rooms that complement each other (like having a neutral colour scheme for the bathroom and adding accessories in an accent colour from your bedroom); 

• Link up both spaces with a dressing room area (which can be achieved with anything from wardrobes to built-in storage areas);  

• Pick bathroom floor tiles that match the hues of your bedroom’s carpet / rug; 

• Consider lighting circuits that allow you to control the bedroom and en-suite bathroom separately. You may require softer, dimmable lighting for your sleeping space, yet brighter task lighting for the bathroom.

3 advantages of an en-suite bathroom

• Convenience: Having an en-suite in your home conveys a sense of luxury and convenience, but only if there’s more than one bathroom to choose from. And let’s be honest: taking a midnight trip to your en-suite loo is much more preferable than having to sneak down the hallway and risk waking up others.

• Enhanced morning routines: With an en-suite bathroom, it can be a simple matter of jumping from your bed to the shower/bath and straight to the wardrobe. And there’s no risk of dripping water all throughout the house. 

• Easy access: There are times when nature calls and one simply MUST answer, like with food poisoning. In such cases, you will certainly be happier that your en-suite (with its toilet) is only a few steps away from your bed instead of on the other side of the house. 

Next up: The 10 interior design trends to copy for 2021

Decorating an en-suite

Whether you have a small en-suite or a spacious one, you may be having trouble finding the right decor. After all, an en-suite bathroom should not only be complementary to the bedroom, it should also be a relaxing room for you to enjoy.

Compare this with the bedroom. Are there colors you can match between the two rooms? What about textures and materials? If you can find a common theme to bind the two, it will feel like a seamless experience moving from room to room in your own home. You might even feel like you're on vacation.

Once you have a design, you can arrange the room. Are there different placements for the toilet or tub that would work better? Could you install a separate shower and tub? If your en-suite is already intact, try rearranging smaller pieces or bringing in fake flowers to add some ambience.

We love the look of this en-suite, which uses beige tones and creamy whites, sparse furniture, unexpected pieces, and natural light from large windows to create a calming atmosphere.

Ready to inspire yourself with more bathroom ideas? Check out these 5 ultimate ensuite bathroom ideas to copy.

If you still have questions, direct them to one of our professionals. They'll be happy to give you concrete answers to questions: How much does it cost to install a shower in the UK? How much to fit a bathroom? What kind of stone looks best in a bathroom?

What will your perfect en-suite bathroom look like?

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