Where to start with re-doing my bathroom?

6 Aug 2022
Reaction score
United Kingdom
Bit of background... 1920's mid-terraced house in the UK I have purchased as my new home, needs complete renovation and upgrading. Construction wise, it's got cavity walls, single brick between neighbouring houses. Bathroom had previous long-term leaks which caused rot in one of the joists, so I removed the bath/sink and replaced any rotten wood and treated the area with a preservative. stripped out most of the old wood panelling and tiles while I was at it. Somewhat recent photos below...



br ext.PNG

Now I need to re-do it and I don't really know where to start.
For the bathroom itself I'd like tiled walls and floor and a nice big shower, but there there are a few things I'd like to do while I have the chance but am a bit lost with how to approach them...

* Move the toilet to below the window then put a sink where the toilet is
--- How would I adjust/replace the exterior soil pipe to accomodate this?

* Install internal insulation on the one exterior wall (~65mm)
--- What sort of insualtion is best here?
--- Elsewhere I'm using insulated plasterboard but would elements board be more appropriate for the bathroom?

* Install proper ventilation
--- What's the best option for this?
--- Is a heat recovery extractor worth it? Should I consider into PIR or MVHR?

* Sort out (re-board?) the old ceiling
--- Is there anything specific I should consider for a bathroom vs any other room?

* Lay some new floorboards
--- Should I let the bathroom fitter do this? Presumably they'll need to make new holes when plumbing goes in anyway?

I don't really know where to start with all of this. While I'm not living here yet, I am reluctant to rip out the toilet and just have at it myself with no plan since this is the only toilet in the house. While I'm handy I'm also a little risk-averse when it comes to plumbing... I expect I might hire someone to fit the bathroom, do the plumbing, and tile, but I'm not sure what I should do myself beforehand, and what should be left to the pros.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Sponsored Links
Start by doing the services (i.e. plumbing, wiring and ventilation) first, then do the floor, ceiling and insulation in that order

Soil pipes - you can get flexible soil pipes these days which are handy in awkward situations. Modifying soil pipe work is always the smelliest of jobs - also it's one where youy really do need to wear disposable gloves. Probably better to do the pipework on the inside and box-in later if you can - to move where the soil pipe exits through the wall will require a core drill, core bit and a scaffolding tower to work off (NOT a job to be attempted off a ladder, unless you want to leave your loved ones a Darwin Award...). The other thing you'll need a tower for is the make-good work that you'll need to do on the previous soil pipe hole and the render repair

Insulated plasterboard works well, but if you are going to an all-tiled bathroom maybe timber/metal battening, insulation (PIR or mineral wool batting) and cement board over the top would be a better choice. I'm considering that for a bathroom I'm doing in the future. Bathroom plasterboard should ideally be moisture-resistant (green/blue) - can you actually get MR insulated PB? (I've never looked, so I don't know)

Are you doing heat recovery elsewhere? I think you need to do the whole house to be worthwhile, but I'd be interested to see the responses to that

Old ceiling - batten-out and board over with MR PB

I thought that the bathroom fitter would want a flat, clean floor to start with - ideally something like 18 to 22mm plywood or P% T&G chipboard - and that like kitchen fitters they simply connect to the existing services as is (it's worthwhile asking, as moving/installing pipe work will almost certainly be an on-cost for the fitter that you will have to pay for). Any services which need to be installed or moved should really be dealt with before the fitter arrives, and done in such a way that he isn't going to be cutting holes all over your (hopefully) nice flat new plywood or chipboard sub-floor.

A bit of advice about waste pipes (generally 32mm in a bathroom) - wherever pipework can't be seen always use solvent weld joins on things like elbows, tees, etc. In fact only ever use compression or push fit where there is absolutely no alternative (e.g. P-traps) - I'm still drying out part of our house where the previous owner (or Brian the Bodger as we like to call him) installed push fit beneath floors and we had a leak into the living room from the shower. Grrr! Same goes for water - use soldered ("Yorkshire") fittings wherever you can if you are using copper pipes. I like the compression fittings that our commercial plumbers use at work, really neat, but the machines used to produce them are eve-wateringly expensive (as in well north of £1k), so maybe not for me, especially as I can still flame solder (and I still have my circoflam head)
Thanks for your reply!

For the soil pipe, I think I may bite the bullet and move it externally. It's 100 year old cast pipe which needs replacing anyway. I may end up having to move it too because the current pipe is vented within a metre of where I want to put my loft conversion window which is a no-no for BRegs. I'd aim to slope it up under the bathroom window, have the toilet join there, then come up on the right hand side instead (I've read some posts saying I may not need a vent since I'm in a terrace, but can't find the regs to back this up.)
I'm wondering if I could get away with doing the coring from the inside out? Then the ladder work would just be joining the pipes, and I'd do this with a harness because I'm not eager to die covered in a century old exrement.

I'd only be doing heat recovery where I have extractors for moisture, so in the bathroom and kitchen/dining room. The bathroom has the benefit of being under the attic so makes PIV/MVHR more feasible in terms of installation.

Still need to do a bit more research on insulation. If i can get away with no battens that'd be ideal since I don't want to lose more space than I have to.

Thanks for the tips on the plumbing. I'm a bit of a noob there so I'm gonna be super careful with all of that!
I'm wondering if I could get away with doing the coring from the inside out? Then the ladder work would just be joining the pipes, and I'd do this with a harness because I'm not eager to die covered in a century old exrement.
No, because 90% of the time you end up blowing out the brick face on the outside especially with old masonry, meaning that the safest way to do it is to pilot all the way through (normally with a 10mm masonry bit) then ideally use a blank (i.e non drilling) pilot and core from both sides. A point about this - at this diameter (probably 110mm or 127mm) there isn't an SDS drill on the market with a clutch handle which can safely handle a "snatch". It's a job for a proper core drill, so maybe a hire job. If you don't believe me about blow outs, just search the forum for complaints about BT Openreach blowing out brickwork by drilling from the inside only...

The other issue is attempting to core off a ladder - if the core catches, and this can happen, you stand a chance that it will throw you off the ladder, because need two hands on the drill to use it with a core bit.

I'm not sure what you are going to do with a harness on a ladder, either. Harnesses require a stable anchor point to fix to (ideally a steel beam or a cast iron column), and your range of movement with them is restricted. I wouldn't want to attach my harness to a ladder because there is no way for anyone to get me down in the event that I become unconcious. As it happens we don't ever allow people to use them unless they are harness trained, simply because if you put them on wrong and an accident happens, you can be badly injured (e.g "debagging" - and if you've been trained you should know exactly what this means). Harnesses are also supposed to be used in conjunction with an appropriate hard hat - one with additional padding inside and a chinstrap. Standard hard hats can be dislodged in a fall meaning thevhead is unprotected. There's also the issue of how you get down if you have a fall and end upnsusoended on the harness, possibly injured or unconcious. You need to have a competent second person with you at all times who knows how to bring you down safely - it's no good hoping that you'll still be concious and be able to get yourself down unaided, or that the fire brigade will be able to get you down before suspension trauma occurs (caused by being suspended in a harness for about 25 to 30 minutes ). Suspension trauma can be fatal, or if not can lead to the need to amputate the legs.

So DON'T use a harness unless you really know what you are doing - a scaffolding tower is a far, far safer work platform for this type of work which is why I suggested it, especially as you are only talking about a weekend's hire in all probability. BTW, comments based on the fact that I am fully trained on this (PASMA, IPAF, harness trained, First Aider, etc)
Last edited by a moderator:
Sponsored Links
I'm a fan of elements board.

It's really light yet strong and a doddle to cut with a handsaw.

But I've only installed it inside a shower enclosure.

How much does the cill protrude from the wall?

You'll need to consider altering it when fitting the insulation to the inside of the external wall.

The other thing I was going to say was if you decided to extend the soil pipe inside, Elements do frames that stand off the wall so you could hide all the pipework. Their wall-hung pans are really strong- I have never used one because I'm worried I'd be too heavy!

I'm 151 Kg now (used to be 167 at my heaviest) but apparently the Elements wall-hung pans can take a load of 400 Kg!
Last edited:

DIYnot Local

Staff member

If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.

Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local