Design considerations when planning a wet room for new build properties

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According to Grand Designs, wet rooms with wide glass panels and recessed wall profiles are predicted to be a key trend for 2018, as consumers move away from the standard bathroom configuration and aspire to more spacious, and luxurious shower rooms. Not surprisingly then that property developers are embracing this trend and are increasingly incorporating wet rooms in their new builds. A wet room not only adds contemporary style to a new property but can also enhance its sales value handsomely, a not insignificant consideration for the developer!

Here are some key considerations when designing a wet room in a new build property:

1.Buildings Regulations approval

When seeking to install a wet room in a new property the developer needs to acquire building regulations approval, as set out in the Buildings Regulations Act 2010.

The advantage of planning a wet room for a new build is that you have a “free hand”, unrestricted by the need to assess or change any existing structures. However, it is imperative to incorporate the design of the wet room(s) as early as possible and to prepare accurately measured and drawn plans as the location of joists, pipework, and concrete flooring for example will determine the siting of the drain, vents and soil pipes. Retrospective fitting, even where it is physically possible, can result in the completion date being put back, and substantial extra costs.

2. Design brief & specification

From the outset of the design process it is essential to ascertain and define the size, style and available budget for the wet room (s), whether that be through liaison with the developer or even the client himself, if he is closely involved in the specification of the property. What is the look that is to be achieved, will there be a mix of materials such as tiles and a wooden floor, what type of shower is to be installed, what is the flow capacity of that shower, will underfloor heating be required, will a ventilation system need to be installed if there are no windows, etc. All these key components of the proposed wet room(s) will formulate the final specification and impact on the services specification.

3. Sales value v practicality

Yes, a wet room will add the wow factor to any new build and increase its sales/m2, but it is important from the outset to identify the target buyer and their respective needs as this will dictate the design of any wet room. For example, if the property is intended for young families and the wet room is to be the main family bathroom, a layout without a bathtub may not be practical. In such cases it is advisable to include a bath and locate a wet area to one side of the bathroom, separating it off with a glass “room divider”. The proximity to a door must be carefully considered to avoid the need to walk across a wet floor, and the positioning of the sanitary ware is also critical to avoid them becoming wet, and slippy.

4. Fittings & Fixtures:

As wet rooms have become both easier to build and increasingly more stylish, so the availability of high-tech electrical appliances and high-quality fixtures for use in wet rooms has increased exponentially. Contemporary radiators, heated towel rails, even TV screens etc can all enhance the appearance of a wet room but it is imperative that all electrical items meet at least the IP ratings required for use in a wet room, an IEE designated Zone 0. Failure to check the IP rating before installation could result in serious consequences once the property has been handed over to the buyer. The consequences of an electric shock are more severe in a bathroom as wet skin reduces the body’s resistance.

Lighting must be enclosed and ceiling mounted, but Part P of the Building Regulations Act 2010 does allow for either a pull-cord to be installed inside the wet room or a wall-mounted switch located outside of the wet room: the latter may be considered aesthetically more attractive.

To find out more download our guide ‘How to Specify a Wet Room’.

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