Jeremy Wyn-Harris shares expert tips to get the most for your bathroom refresh and renovation efforts.

What are the most popular home renovation projects this spring?

The five most popular projects on builderscrack.co.nz are interior painting and plastering, roof replacement or maintenance, garden tidy-ups or remodelling, deck restoration or extensions and bathroom renovations.

How would you recommend going about a bathroom renovation?

It's useful to have a clear idea of what works and doesn't in your existing bathroom and why. Make a list of wants versus needs. Consider future-proofing your bathroom. As the population ages, walk-in showers are becoming more common. Baths are critical for young families. Use Pinterest for bathroom inspiration and once you have a good picture of what you want, consult a tradesperson.

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What are some quick ways to freshen up your bathroom for summer?

Give it a good clean and declutter. Complete small maintenance tasks such as replacing wobbly towel rails or toilet seats before deciding what to do next. A fresh coat of paint brightens up a bathroom or you can replace the vanity and update storage. A tiler can replace tired flooring with modern tiles, which come in a variety of sizes as well as colours. Using bigger tiles can give the illusion of a bigger space.

What materials are most popular for bathroom do-ups?

Quality does not have to mean expensive. A popular trend is using small tiles to create a mosaic up the bathroom wall. If your bathroom is all one colour, bright glossy accent tiles could be just what you need. A mix of tiling and hardiglaze on the walls, along with fittings that complement the look and feel of the home, remain the most commonly used.

What tasks can keen DIYers take on themselves?

If you're feeling handy, do basic maintenance checks and repairs yourself. Are the towel rails stable? If not, and they're not towel warmers, then a screw driver can easily fix this. Is the shower door still sealing firmly? Do the taps turn on and off easily? Are any tiles cracked or loose? If you don't want to risk remedying any of those tasks yourself, it's still worthwhile checking to see what needs doing and compiling a list of tasks before venturing into a bathroom makeover or renovation. If the renovations are more substantial, simple jobs and preparation such as sanding the walls for painting could be done by the keen DIYer but keep in mind what might seem a simple DIY job can easily turn into something best done by a tradesperson. Uncovering a surprise when doing-it-yourself can mean higher costs if remedial work is needed if things go wrong.

What bathroom renovation tasks are best left to the experts?

All sanitary plumbing tasks must be carried out by a plumber with a current licence as all work must comply with the Building Code. Where a building consent is required, the work must be checked by the building inspector from the building control authority in your area (your council). As well as plumbing, anything electrical such as installation of towel warmers or extractor fans must be carried out by a licensed electrician. Tiling and waterproofing should also be carried out by professional tradespeople and any structural changes may require a registered Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).

How do you find the right tradies for the job?

Now you know what needs doing and what it might cost, it's time to find a tradie. Builderscrack.co.nz is an online service connecting homeowners with tradespeople. It's free and easy to post a job and have rated tradespeople come to you. You can check tradespeople's profiles and reviews and decide who you would like to get quotes from. It's smart to get two to three tradespeople to quote and don't just rely on a referral from a friend. Don't be afraid to ask questions and treat it like an interview. If a tradie can't communicate promptly and answer questions, this is a warning sign. Make sure you have hard copies of all quotes or contracts. Check the tradie has suitable insurance, ask to see their qualifications or licences and if you want to be really sure, verify these with the appropriate bodies.

How do you brief the tradie?

You're probably not an expert and things may need doing you're not aware of. Write down as many details and measurements you can think of - the more information a tradie has, the quicker you'll be able to get the ball rolling. After a site visit there may be follow-up emails or phone calls to nail down the details, but ensure everything is put in writing.

What time investment is involved in bathroom do-ups?

A simple clean, paint and maintenance job could be completed in a couple of days. If the job is bigger and requires remodelling, licensed plumbers or building consent, the process may be a lot longer and if you've only got one bathroom this may impact on how you are able to use your house. Ask the tradie for an estimated timeline and add on some extra for the unexpected. Alternatively, ask the tradie for a fixed time to have the job completed with some penalty in place for them failing to do so - get this in writing as part of the contract.

How much budget should we allow to freshen up a bathroom?

Think about the reason you're renovating as this is important when considering a budget. Is it for your own enjoyment, a quick sale or just a necessary part of home maintenance? Bathroom renovations can be good investments in the value of your home, returning $1.50 for every $1 spent. A full renovation on a small or medium bathroom starts from $5000, on average. Top-quality bathrooms, even small ones, start at around $10,000 and go up to $20,000 or more. Use the Builderscrack.co.nz free cost estimator to give you a ballpark range before you get quotes.

Can you do a gradual bathroom renovation?

Bathroom renovations need to be done quickly to avoid interruption to the household. Basic maintenance or cosmetic fixes can be done gradually but anything larger involving plumbing or new fixtures should be done quickly. If you choose to renovate gradually, remember you'll be using an unfinished bathroom for an extended period of time and this could be problematic as well as unsightly.

• Jeremy Wyn-Harris is builderscrack.co.nz co-founder