How to plan for a washroom refurbishment
Planning a washroom renovation project is an essential aspect of managing a shared space like offices, schools or commercial centres.
If you are unsure about how to begin and what factors to take into consideration, here is a simple guide to get you started.
- Identify problem areas. Make a list of the things you need to prioritise. One way to do this is to review the feedback from users or tenants. What are the most common causes of complaints? From here, you can assess what needs fixing, replacing or upgrading.
- Work with the space you have. A crucial aspect to successful washroom refurbishment is understanding the space you have and maximising it. Start out with a vision of what you want it to look like and take note of who the most frequent users are. This will enable you to design or redesign the washroom to suit their needs.
- Think of your users. The most basic expectations from a publicly shared washroom are cleanliness and privacy. Keep these in mind when planning your washroom refurbishment. At the end of the day, the washroom serves a purpose, so it is important to focus on the user experience.
For instance, if the washroom is in a school, the design should take into consideration privacy and adult supervision. Door height, signage, wall coverings and other aspects of the physical design should be kid-friendly. If the washroom is to be used by older kids and teenagers, it is important to refurbish the washroom in such a way that students are given ample privacy without creating an environment that encourages rule-breaking. Washrooms tend to be a hotspot for bullying and vandalism, so the layout and design affect strategies for behaviour monitoring.
School washrooms should have provision for children with special needs. Selecting the right colour for doors and walls can make a huge difference for someone who is visually impaired.
A commercial washroom must also comply with access requirements, including proper dimensions for fixtures, doors (including proper swing direction) and handles so include these in the factors to consider.
- Consider the aesthetics. The washroom is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of aesthetics, but it does not mean that it should look drab and uninspired. For some people, the look of a building’s or an establishment’s washroom reflects the management’s own priorities. A poorly maintained washroom implies that the building administration does not prioritise cleanliness. The look of a washroom reflects, not just taste or style, but overall regard for the importance of making a good impression.
When it comes to the “look,” a public washroom should be two things—clean and simple. Trendy colours and unnecessary décor may even require additional maintenance and may look out of place especially if the visual theme does not complement that of the building’s overall look. Of course, if you are going for a uniform aesthetic for all parts of the building, you can always style up the washroom but just keep in mind the upkeep that goes with it.
Aesthetics is just one aspect of design. The design elements of your refurbished washroom should contribute to the functionality and durability of the space. Choose materials that are easy to clean and maintain. For instance, epoxy flooring will most likely require minimal maintenance compared to tile floors which would need regular and more thorough grout cleaning.
- Invest in time- and money-saving technologies. A refurbishment project is an opportunity to explore and invest in new technologies that can save time, and consequently, money, in the long run. For washroom users, these technologies improve comfort, hygiene and overall experience.
Touch-free technologies for drying hands, soap dispensing, odour control, toilet flushing and even cleaning can help minimise manual cleaning. Some washrooms have waterless urinals which significantly contribute to the reduction of water use. In deciding which technologies to invest in, make sure to check with local building codes and sanitation guidelines to ensure that everything is above board.
- Set a reasonable budget. As in any project, you need to set a budget. Once you have decided on the target areas for refurbishment, you can start canvassing and comparing costs from various suppliers. You should be able to forecast spending, with room for contingency.
- Consult with professionals. Planning a commercial washroom refurbishment is just like the time you renovated your bathroom at home, right? Of course not. A commercial washroom refurbishment is most certainly not the time to DIY. There are guidelines to comply with, a budget to follow and multiple stakeholders involved so make sure to include adequate professional fees in your budget.
Work with professionals who have the proven expertise and experience to execute your plans on time and within budget. Consulting with experts is not just ideal for smooth-sailing implementation; they also offer invaluable insights that you may have overlooked, especially if this is your first time to plan a washroom refurbishment.
After the physical renovations, you’ll also need professional assessment for microbial testing to help you decide on the most effective cleaning solutions that will keep odour and bacteria away.
Why is washroom refurbishment important?
Aside from complying with building and sanitation guidelines, planning a washroom refurbishment is an opportunity to implement new energy-efficient improvements that will help minimise costs in the long run. With a newly refurbished washroom, you can introduce new maintenance guidelines that are better suited for the new and improved features.
It is also a chance to address minor issues, which when overlooked, can quickly escalate into a major problem especially if it causes health issues or injury. This is why time is also essential in planning a washroom refurbishment. These kinds of projects cannot be rushed so do not wait until you are overwhelmed with complaints and issues before starting on it.
In the end, the improved condition of the washroom will add to the overall comfort of the people who frequently use it. This, in turn, will reflect positively on the building management and create a more harmonious space for everyone.