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Can you replace a bath with a shower for a bathroom renovation in Sydney?

Can you replace a bath with shower for a bathroom renovation in Sydney
Bathroom renovation in Alexandria Sydney with walk in shower

Can you replace a bath with shower for a bathroom renovation in an apartment in Sydney

I recently purchased an apartment in St Peters and would like to do a bathroom renovation. The bathroom is 1.8m x 2.2m and currently has a half length bath with shower, toilet and vanity/cabinet. I'd like to replace the bath with a shower does this require any drainage to be moved?

Matt

There are so many old apartment blocks in Sydney that are getting bathroom renovations. Even newer ones people are always asking us what can be renovated in a bathroom in an apartment. The way we live is changing really quickly with so many people living in apartments now. Sydney leads the nation in high-density apartment living, housing nearly half of Australia’s high-rise population. About 45 per cent (247,506) of the people who live in high-rise flats reside in Greater Sydney, where there are nearly 120,000 apartments, or 32 per cent of the national total as of 28 June 2022.

At the same time the costs of living are skyrocketing and property prices are at record high levels. Apartment owners are now renovating their bathroom, kitchen and living areas to make better use of space, accomodate a growing family or make an old apartment feel more modern. Passion Built is getting asked to work on all types of renovations in homes, apartments and town houses across 

We can do renovations in apartments just like we would in a normal house, the differences come down to access, planning & how flexible Strata is with the changes you want to make. So replacing an old bath tub in an apartment for a shower is pretty easy to do as part of a bathroom renovation and this is how you’d go about it.

 

  1. Strata Approval: If your apartment is part of a strata scheme (as most apartments in Sydney are), you’ll need to get approval from the strata committee before undertaking any significant renovations. The process typically involves submitting a detailed proposal of the planned work, and it may require the endorsement of a general meeting, depending on the by-laws and the nature of the changes. Whether you need to get permission will depend on your location & circumstances, read our free guide here but in simple terms if you are just renovating internally without any exterior changes, moving of walls or adjusting any plumbing then it is a pretty straight forward process.

  2. Plumbing: We would need to inspect your bathroom to ensure that the existing plumbing can accommodate a shower in place of a bath. In some cases, adjustments or upgrades to the plumbing might be necessary but if you want to avoid this, then the simple answer is the layout of your bathroom renovation would need to locate the drain and water supply for the shower in the same place as the old bath tub.

  3. Waterproofing: Changing a bath to a shower can affect the waterproofing of your bathroom. In New South Wales, waterproofing must be done by a licensed waterproofer, and it’s a critical part of bathroom renovations to prevent potential water damage to your or neighbouring apartments to make sure water doesn’t leak through walls adjacent or flooring beneath the apartment. Passion Built specialises in complete bathroom renovations where we can strip the apartment bathroom back to the concrete to do all of this from the ground up.

  4. Floor Waste and Drainage: You might need to reposition or adjust the floor waste and drainage to accommodate the shower. This can be a more involved process in an apartment due to the potential impact on units below. So to avoid needing to do this the design layout would need to make sure you can use the exact same locations. In Matt’s example above he has both a shower and a bath so we would simply cap off one of the drains and one set of taps then use the others.

  5. Ventilation: Ensure that your bathroom has adequate ventilation, especially if the new shower will produce more steam than the previous bathtub would have. This is an important consideration so if the apartment already has a ceiling fan this could be upgraded in some cases or in others one can be added.

  6. Tiling and Finishing: Once the shower is installed, you’ll likely need to retile the area and possibly make other cosmetic adjustments to ensure the new shower blends seamlessly with the rest of the bathroom. At Passion Built we would typically have a custom made glass shower screen created so that it perfectly fits the available space. This is a better option compared to buying off the shelf products in a shop.

  7. Building Code and Regulations: Ensure that all renovations comply with the Building Code of Australia and any local regulations. This includes considerations like ensuring a certain percentage of the floor area is not raised (to allow for accessibility) and other safety and design standards to ensure there is suitable drainage in the case of water splashing on the floor.

  8. Professional Advice: It’s always a good idea to consult with a licensed bathroom renovation contractor or a builder familiar with apartment renovations in Sydney. They can provide guidance on the feasibility, costs, and potential challenges of the project that is relevant to your specific location, age of building and the access available.

So its certainly possible to replace a bath with a shower in an apartment in Sydney, it requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and potentially seeking approvals from your strata committee.

Is replacing a bath in an apartment in Sydney a minor or major renovation?

If you want to renovate your apartment bathroom the first thing to think about is the floor plan or layout orientation. The NSW Government has a clear set of rules for Strata Renovations that can influence your decision making. In the example we have shown above, Matt simply wants to remove the existing half length bath and put a full size walk in shower in its place for the renovation.

This could be considered a minor renovation in some circumstances. So for example you do not need permission to make cosmetic changes that don’t affect the structure of your property or require waterproofing, so if you replace an old bath with a new one and nothing is changed in terms of plumbing, waterproofing etc then it is cosmetic really. Although if new waterproofing, tiling or plumbing changes are needed then it could be considered a minor or major renovation, thus you will need to contact the owners corporation, strata committee or strata managing agent and request permission. 

For a minor renovation you will need to show;

  • plans of the work, including dates and times of when the work will be done
  • the qualifications and details of the tradespeople who will do the work
  • if you’re installing flooring, an acoustic certificate to show sound insulation.
 

They will ask you to submit your changes to a vote at a strata meeting. You’ll need more than 50% of the votes cast in favour of the work at the meeting. Minor renovations include kitchen renovations (for example, installing or removing cupboards), changes to internal walls or changes to recessed light fittings. They also include installing or replacing:

  • Wood, tile or other hard flooring, including removing carpets
  • Wiring, cabling, power, or access points
  • A rainwater tank
  • A clothesline
  • A reverse cycle air conditioner
  • Double or triple glazed windows
  • A heat pump
  • Ceiling insulation.
 

Your strata scheme can choose to add more types of work to the list of minor renovations; check your by-laws to see what applies in your scheme. Minor renovations cannot change the outside or structure of your apartment, duplex or strata property or require waterproofing. If you do not get permission for minor renovations, you may need to pay money to put the property back to how it was before you renovated it.

 

Major renovations
Major renovations need a special resolution vote at an annual general meeting (AGM) or other general meeting of the owners corporation. This means no more than 25% of votes cast are against the work. If your work will change the structure of your property (for example, removing a wall), you must also give the owners corporation 14 days’ written notice before the work starts. This notice should describe how your renovations will change the property structure.

Major renovations include:

  • Changes that affect the outside or structure of your apartment, duplex or strata property
  • Changes that require waterproofing
  • Changes to the ceiling
  • Work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval).
 

Some examples include moving a structural internal wall, bathroom renovations (for example, installing a new toilet, vanity or shower), installing an access ramp or installing a false ceiling. If you’re using a building contractor or tradesperson, make sure that they have a valid contractor licence.  If you do not get permission for major renovations, you may need to pay money to put the property back to how it was before you renovated it. 

While all of this sounds daunting it is actually a very straight forward process and we can help make this an easy task to complete. 

Can a shower use the same plumbing as an old bath in an apartment in Sydney

Yes, a shower can often use the same plumbing as an old bath in an apartment in Sydney, but there are several specifics to consider:

  • Drain Location: The drain for a bathtub is typically located at one end, while a shower drain is usually centered or located based on the shower’s design. If you’re converting a bathtub into a walk-in shower, you might need to relocate the drain. This can be a significant task, especially in an apartment setting where the flooring structure and impact on units below need to be considered. We can cut into a concrete slab to change the location of the drain but this means changing the structure of the building and requires additional levels of approval as explained above. The alternative solution is we custom design the walk in shower to have the drain at one end and the fall of the new tiling sends water to that location rather than being in the middle of the shower.
 
  • Water Supply: The water supply lines that fed the bathtub’s tap can typically be used for the shower’s mixer or taps. If you’re planning to install a wall-mounted or overhead shower, you might need to extend or reroute these supply lines.
 
  • Water Pressure: If the old bath had adequate water pressure, the shower should as well. However, if you’re adding multiple shower heads or a rain shower, you’ll need to ensure the existing plumbing can handle the increased demand.
 
  • Waste Pipe Diameter: Showers generally require a faster drain rate than bathtubs. Ensure that the existing waste pipe diameter is sufficient for the shower. In many cases, the existing waste pipe will be adequate, but it’s essential to check.
 
  • Waterproofing: While the plumbing might be adaptable, changing from a bath to a shower can affect the waterproofing. Proper waterproofing is crucial to prevent potential leaks and water damage, especially in an apartment setting. The right way to do this would be to redo the waterproofing and tiling.
 
  • Ventilation: If the bathroom’s ventilation was designed for a bath and not a high-flow shower, you might need to upgrade the ventilation to handle the increased humidity from the shower. If you already have a window and ceiling ventilation then this might be adequate.
 
  • Regulations and Strata Approval: As mentioned earlier always ensure that any plumbing adjustments are in line with local regulations. Additionally, as mentioned previously, if your apartment is part of a strata scheme, you’ll likely need approval for significant plumbing changes. Depending on the design and layout you want for the new shower you can avoid any changes being needed.
 
  • Professional Assessment: Before making any changes, it’s advisable to have the existing plumbing assessed by a licensed plumber familiar with apartment renovations in Sydney. They can provide guidance on what can be reused, what needs to be changed, and any potential challenges. Passion Built has a team of contractors that can help you with this by giving you plumbing, electrical and general renovation advice.
 

In summary, while many aspects of the existing bathtub’s plumbing can often be used for a new shower, specific adjustments and considerations are necessary to ensure a successful and compliant conversion.

Should you use a bathroom renovation contractor in Sydney to remove your old bath?

There is a reason that the NSW Government requires any individual or business undertaking apartment bathroom renovations to hold a valid contractor license issued by the NSW Fair Trading. This licensing ensures that the contractor has met the required qualifications and standards to perform the work. For bathroom renovations, a contractor typically needs to hold a “builder” or “trade” license with a relevant category, such as “bathroom, kitchen, and laundry renovation.”

It’s crucial for homeowners and property managers to verify that an independent contractor holds a valid license before hiring them for renovation work, especially in an apartment block where any errors can effect others living there. Don’t assume because there is a number written on a van, uniform or quote that it is valid. Working with a licensed contractor provides an assurance of quality, adherence to regulations, and access to avenues of recourse if issues arise during or after the renovation.

To check the license validity of a contractor in NSW, one can use the “Check a License” tool available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Always remember to ask for the contractor’s license details and ensure they are appropriately insured before commencing any renovation work. This also includes asking about any sub-contractors because they may not even be qualified let alone licensed. Removing a bath to add a shower isn’t as simple as it seems.

Passion Built is a licensed indepenedent bathroom renovation contractor in Sydney, you can check on the NSW Department of Fair Trading Website here

Free site inspection, consultation & quote

It’s really easy to find out the cost to renovate. We offer an obligation free site inspection, consultation & written price quote so that you can work out all the costs before you commit to renovating.

Get more free renovation advice

Enjoy some of our free bathroom renovation advice articles that explain the practical steps to getting your renovation completed without spending a fortune while also making sure you get the job done right the first time.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a collection of the questions we get asked a lot when we get phone calls or emails and people want information about the cost to build a new bathroom.

An independent bathroom renovation contractor in Sydney is an individual or a small team that offers bathroom renovation services independently, without being affiliated with a large company or group. Here’s how it differs from working with a large company or group:

  • Personalised Service: Independent contractors often provide a more personalised experience. You’ll usually be working directly with the person responsible for the renovations, allowing for clear communication and understanding of your specific needs.
 
  • Flexibility: Independent contractors can be more flexible in terms of scheduling, design choices, and making last-minute changes, as they typically have fewer bureaucratic processes to navigate.
 
  • Cost: Because independent contractors have lower overhead costs than large companies, they may offer competitive prices. However, it’s essential to ensure that the quality of materials and workmanship is not compromised.
 
  • Local Knowledge: Many independent contractors have deep roots in their local communities. They might have specific insights into the local trends, materials, and suppliers, which can be beneficial for your renovation project.
 
  • Accountability: With an independent contractor, there’s a direct line of accountability. If there are any issues or concerns, you know exactly who to address them with.
 
  • Scale of Operations: Large companies or groups might have multiple projects running simultaneously, which could mean more extensive resources but could also lead to potential delays or less personalised attention. Independent contractors typically take on fewer projects at a time, ensuring more dedicated focus on your renovation.
 
  • Contract Terms: Independent contractors might be more open to negotiating contract terms, given their smaller scale of operations.

However, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and vetting when choosing an independent contractor, just as you would with a large company. Always check references, reviews, and ensure they have the necessary licenses and insurance.

Yes you can remove a bath in an apartment and install a new shower during a bathroom renovation. Apartment owners are now renovating their bathroom, kitchen and living areas to make better use of space, accomodate a growing family or make an old apartment feel more modern. Passion Built is getting asked to work on all types of renovations in homes, apartments and town houses across 

We can do renovations in apartments just like we would in a normal house, the differences come down to access, planning & how flexible Strata is with the changes you want to make. So replacing an old bath tub in an apartment for a shower is pretty easy to do as part of a bathroom renovation and this is how you’d go about it.

 

  1. Strata Approval: If your apartment is part of a strata scheme (as most apartments in Sydney are), you’ll need to get approval from the strata committee before undertaking any significant renovations. The process typically involves submitting a detailed proposal of the planned work, and it may require the endorsement of a general meeting, depending on the by-laws and the nature of the changes. Whether you need to get permission will depend on your location & circumstances, read our free guide here but in simple terms if you are just renovating internally without any exterior changes, moving of walls or adjusting any plumbing then it is a pretty straight forward process.

  2. Plumbing: We would need to inspect your bathroom to ensure that the existing plumbing can accommodate a shower in place of a bath. In some cases, adjustments or upgrades to the plumbing might be necessary but if you want to avoid this, then the simple answer is the layout of your bathroom renovation would need to locate the drain and water supply for the shower in the same place as the old bath tub.

  3. Waterproofing: Changing a bath to a shower can affect the waterproofing of your bathroom. In New South Wales, waterproofing must be done by a licensed waterproofer, and it’s a critical part of bathroom renovations to prevent potential water damage to your or neighbouring apartments to make sure water doesn’t leak through walls adjacent or flooring beneath the apartment. Passion Built specialises in complete bathroom renovations where we can strip the apartment bathroom back to the concrete to do all of this from the ground up.

  4. Floor Waste and Drainage: You might need to reposition or adjust the floor waste and drainage to accommodate the shower. This can be a more involved process in an apartment due to the potential impact on units below. So to avoid needing to do this the design layout would need to make sure you can use the exact same locations. In Matt’s example above he has both a shower and a bath so we would simply cap off one of the drains and one set of taps then use the others.

  5. Ventilation: Ensure that your bathroom has adequate ventilation, especially if the new shower will produce more steam than the previous bathtub would have. This is an important consideration so if the apartment already has a ceiling fan this could be upgraded in some cases or in others one can be added.

  6. Tiling and Finishing: Once the shower is installed, you’ll likely need to retile the area and possibly make other cosmetic adjustments to ensure the new shower blends seamlessly with the rest of the bathroom. At Passion Built we would typically have a custom made glass shower screen created so that it perfectly fits the available space. This is a better option compared to buying off the shelf products in a shop.

  7. Building Code and Regulations: Ensure that all renovations comply with the Building Code of Australia and any local regulations. This includes considerations like ensuring a certain percentage of the floor area is not raised (to allow for accessibility) and other safety and design standards to ensure there is suitable drainage in the case of water splashing on the floor.

  8. Professional Advice: It’s always a good idea to consult with a licensed bathroom renovation contractor or a builder familiar with apartment renovations in Sydney. They can provide guidance on the feasibility, costs, and potential challenges of the project that is relevant to your specific location, age of building and the access available.

So its certainly possible to replace a bath with a shower in an apartment in Sydney, it requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and potentially seeking approvals from your strata committee.

Dylan
Dylan

Licensed builder and founder of Passion Built

About us

Passion Built, a premier licensed builder in Sydney, that provides bespoke bathroom renovation services tailored to meet the specific needs and visions of each client whether it is for a house, apartment or commercial use location. Recognised as one of the most modern bathroom renovation builders in Sydney, we specialise in transforming living spaces including a laundry

For those looking to revamp their bathrooms, our detailed bathroom renovation package brochure provides an array of options to renovate a bathroom in your house or apartment within your budget without compromising on quality. 

Unique services such as converting laundry to bathroom are handled with the utmost precision, showcasing our dedication to innovation. With a commitment to transparency and no hidden surprises, our fixed price bathroom renovation quotations ensure complete peace of mind for every single client. 

Trust Passion Built to design your new bathroom space; your dreams, our blueprint.