Corona is getting many people to decorate their homes more beautifully. “Cocooning” has made the construction industry a crisis winner, including plumbers and bathroom fitters. A new bathroom thus quickly becomes a cost trap.
Manufacturers of bathroom fittings, for which the copper-zinc alloy brass is the essential raw material, have been forced to raise their prices. Compared to last year, the price of brass has risen by 40 percent. Many plumbing products will become five percent more expensive starting in July 2021.
Other building materials are now also in such short supply that it is not the increased prices but long delivery times that are becoming the main problem. Craftsmen sometimes wait months for materials such as lumber or plasterboard.
Like many builders, we have observed the rising prices on the raw materials market as well as in the building trade as a whole – a trend that has been going on for years and has gained further momentum as a result of the corona pandemic. New construction and real estate renovation or remodeling have become significantly more expensive in recent years, and individual building materials such as wood and metal parts are particularly affected because a lot is exported to China. The post-Corona recovery is already underway there.
Estimate costs correctly and look for ways to save when building and renovating
This makes it all the more important for house and apartment owners to estimate costs correctly and look for ways to save when building and renovating. Particularly in the case of comparatively expensive projects such as bathroom renovation and furnishing, a few thousand dollars can be saved by making comparisons and making a targeted selection of materials, without having to forego high-quality fittings.
Basically, the costs of a bathroom renovation are divided into installation costs on the one hand and material costs on the other. In new construction, the rule of thumb is that labor costs account for about 40 percent of the total costs. In the case of a complete renovation, this proportion can be higher because, depending on the conditions on site, the old bathroom first has to be dismantled and old water and power lines replaced. Dismantling, conversion and disposal costs for the old bathroom equipment are then added.
On average, the construction industry is talking about material price and wage increases of 30 percent in 2020 compared to 2015. And this year it’s particularly bad, especially for material costs. Normally, the industry adjusts prices upward by three to five percent each year, as it did this January, now, however, wood and metal prices have exploded. Fittings and radiators, for example, have therefore become ten to 15 percent more expensive again in April.
A completely new bathroom with a new shower, sink, toilet, new walls and floors, new radiators or wall or floor heating, without luxury but with a feel-good factor, costs a lot of money. A complete bathroom including furnishings costs us an average of 18,000 to 25,000 dollars, depending on the equipment including mirror cabinet and shower toilet. A complete bathroom for 12,000 dollar, as recently requested by a private landlord for an apartment, is no longer feasible today. And we’re talking about bathrooms without the infamous golden faucets.
Booming construction sector & rising wages
Labor costs have also climbed sharply. The long-standing real estate boom has significantly increased demand in the building trades, and there is also a shortage of skilled workers due to a lack of young talent. Plumbers’ wages have increased by three percent every year for the past several years. The bottom line is that a bathroom now costs about five to ten percent more than it did in 2020. Mind you, that’s inflation in the plumbing sector in just half a year, and with the construction boom, there’s no end in sight.
Since most builders and property owners can hardly change anything in terms of labor costs – unless they bring in as much of their own work as possible – the red pencil is most likely to be applied to the equipment.
How much does a good washbasin faucet cost?
There is no question that a washbasin faucet, which is used several times a day, must be of high quality so that it lasts at least ten years. With good care, it will last much longer. Cheap faucets often look high-quality, but they usually have plastic components inside that wear out sooner. A brand-name faucet that you can enjoy for a long time costs around 200 to 300 dollar. This is at least what you should calculate, because this segment is also quite luxurious: customers with an affinity for design will pay as much as 1,200 dollar for elegant faucets from designer brands. Together with shower and bathtub faucets, the water dispensers can quickly add up to a few thousand dollars.
Still another tip for savings: OEM wholesale or private label brands also are often made by big manufacturers, for example by ideal or Grohe. For the buyer, however, they are often more expensive than buying directly from the manufacturer, since wholesalers also want to earn good money from private labels. On the other hand, if you order through a plumber, you often get a discount from the manufacturer.
Those who place less value on exclusive design but want to proceed economically therefore prefer to use a standard fitting from a high-quality brand manufacturer when it comes to fittings. For landlords in particular, the high-end shower head with mood lighting and music is not worth it; after all, it’s a matter of taste and every tenant is different. Here, easy cleaning and long durability should be in the foreground.
Nevertheless, the feel-good bathroom remains in vogue: a floor-level or at least low-barrier shower with a large disc showerhead is no longer a luxury, while joint-free cladding or special lighting technology for indirect illumination are very much in demand. Bathroom furniture and mirror cabinets should also be of high quality workmanship so that they last long in the humid room climate. Mirror cabinets therefore often cost around 1000 euros. The luxury version made of metal with mirrored interior sides, special lighting and dust-proof design mirror door can also cost 3000 to 4000 euros. Price comparisons are strongly recommended here.
More and more affluent customers want luxury bathrooms. Especially premium and luxury fittings with special surfaces for faucets beyond the tried-and-tested chrome are in high demand. Luxury hotels in Asia, for example, order special designs with embossed hotel emblems. Many design-savvy, demanding customers also want digital solutions. In these cases washbasin faucets are sold with emotion instead of low prices. Frugal builders should be aware of this.