The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

13 – Day 6: 14 Days To A New Bathroom

On today’s episode,

It is Day 6 of the series 14 Days To A New Bathroom and Bernadette’s topic will be toilets. She will talk about your choice of whether installing a new toilet or replacing an existing toilet for your bathroom renovation. She then discusses the ins and outs of each.

This episode is a part of a 14-Day mini-series on Bathroom Renovations.

Listen to Day 6: 14 Days To A New Bathroom 

Bernadette covers,

  • Making a decision between a standard cistern or an in wall or concealed cistern
  • Why you should reconsider choosing an in wall cistern even if it is a big space saver
  • The parts of a steel in wall cistern, how it is installed and the difference from one without a steel frame
  • Why it’s best to choose a closed coupled version of a standard toilet suite
  • What are the two configurations of toilet pans
  • The importance of working with a professional plumber to get the right pan
  • The correct positioning of a new toilet installation in your bathroom
  • The best choice for a toilet seat
  • What you need to do to ensure you have a well grounded toilet


Well hello! Bernadette back with She Renovates, a podcast for women who want to create an income and a life they love through renovating. And today we’re talking about toilets.

Okay so in your new bathroom renovation it’s highly likely that you’ll be installing a toilet or you’ll be replacing an existing toilet. So today I want to talk about the ins and outs of that particular aspect of the renovation.

So firstly, a toilet comes in two pieces, mainly, a cistern and the pan so the cistern can be a standard cistern or it can be an in wall or concealed cistern. So that’s the first decision you want to make. Are you going for a standard set up or are you going for an in wall cistern? Now why would you go for an in wall cistern?

Well the main reason is because it’s a very nice clean design look, but it also is a big space saver. You’ve got quite a narrow bathroom, a standard toilet will protrude into the room around 750 or 800 millimeters, whereas if you can install the cistern into the wall, then you’ve only got the pan that’s actually in the room. And you can get something that’s as small as 500 mile day. So you know you can be saving yourself at least 200 millimeters. So it’s a great space saving measure.

There are some good reasons to not do it though, and the main one is that they are quite difficult to maintain. So the only access you have to the cistern is via an access panel behind the buttons. So if the cistern has any issues anywhere along the line, more often than not it’s a leak.

If you can’t fix it through that panel, then you’re looking at taking tiles off the wall and breaking into the wall to get to the cistern. We recently had this, we were renovating a terrace, a small terrace and we discovered a damp patch in the living room wall. And it was the neighbours 20 year old in wall cistern. In actual fact, he converted a standard toilet suite into an in wall cistern and it was leaking. So of course he didn’t want to take his tiles off and create a huge mess in the bathroom.

And so given that we were renovating he asked if he could access it from our side. So normally I’d be reluctant, but we were keen to get the problem fixed so we allowed that. And interestingly the wall was a single brick thick, so between the two dwellings, so it wasn’t a major exercise to get that fixed and patched and all cleaned up. Now an in wall cistern will be best installed in a stub wall, but you can put it in a masonry wall, but it needs to be cleared. And it’s just a serious expense which is the other reason why you might not go for in wall cistern.

The actual components are expensive, significantly more expensive, probably about double, what a traditional toilet is and the installation is more expensive as well.

So just a bit more on in wall cisterns, the actual cistern itself generally comes in a steel frame that fits between two studs. So that frame comes in to height, so you can have a low rise or a standard height one, which if you do, what we often do, which is build a sort of a false wall to house the cistern and sort of a half wall. So that we end up with a ledge in the bathroom, sort of a landing ground for bathroom products and so on. If you go with the higher version that can be too high to be useful. So you need to think about how high you need to have that cistern.

And there is also a third type of in wall cistern, which doesn’t come in the steel frame. It’s just got clips that you fix to the studs, sort of a cheaper version. Which can be installed pretty much at the height that you want.

Now the alternative to an in wall cistern is a standard toilet suite. And I guess if you’re going that way, just make sure that you go for a closed coupled version.

What that means, is that the cistern sits down very close to the pan and so that you can’t see any of the plumbing in between the two components. So it’s shrouded in a piece of acrylic or porcelain. It’s just a much cleaner look and you don’t have plumbing to clean, it tends to get quite dusty. That’s quite an old look and I would certainly not expect to see that in a modern bathroom. Equally with the pan. We tend to go for the back to the wall version, so all the waste pipes are concealed in a porcelain skirt. It’s a nice clean finish and there’s no pipes, the old porcelain is to collect dust and just become a maintenance issue. So we want the bathroom to be as easy to clean and as clean a look as possible.

The next thing I need to tell you is that toilet pans come in two configurations. They come in an S trap and a P trap. And so the S trap, the waste goes down into the floor. The P trap, the waste pipe goes through the wall. So if you’re replacing an existing toilet you need to know whether it’s an S or a P trap. And the other thing you need to know is if it’s P trap, so the waste pipes in the wall, you need to know the height of that waste pipe from the finished floor level, because they vary with different products.

So you want to make sure that you get one that’s going to work, with that waste pipe. Because that’s not movable, well it is movable, but you don’t want the expense of moving it if you’re just replacing an existing toilet.

And similarly with the S trap the waste pipe, it goes through the floor and you need to know the distance between the waste pipe and the wall. So that you can find a toilet pan that works with that. So it’s best to work with your plumber to get the right pan. Interestingly a lot of toilet pans come as P traps as standard these days. And if you go for an S trap or if you need an extra time, then you just need an adapter to adapt it to change it to go, to become an extra.

Now if you are installing a new toilet, that’s your repositioning the toilet, so you’re not constricted by the position of the toilet. You want to think about where you put it and try and get it out of the line of sight when the doors open. I think that’s a really bad look when you open the door and the first thing you see is the toilet.

So think about where you can position it, so it’s in some way concealed. I just think that’s a much better arrangement. If you are installing in a bathroom, that’s the space, the width of the space required. If it’s confined by say the shower and the vanity is around 800 that’s about the minimum to have something that sort of works comfortably.

Now most toilets, well all toilets, come as you flush these days, and if you are having to submit a basic report for your renovation then you might want to look at the world’s writing on the toilet. Often you will need that to actually get your basics over the line.

And the last couple of things I want to say, is soft closed seats I think, you need to be standard, don’t go cheap and nasty. It doesn’t cost much these days to put in a decent toilet suite. So a good solid soft close seat.

And when the plumber installs the toilet they use to water them in so you could never get them out without breaking up the tiles. But these days they are siliconed in. And what that means is on the day the toilet is installed and when the plumber has finished the bathroom needs to be cordoned off and nobody go near it until the next day, because the silicon takes time to cure. And if you want your toilet to be well grounded it needs that time to cure.

Okay, so in our show notes today I’m going to include some diagrams so that you get a bit of an understanding of what I’ve been talking about.

It’s tricky to explain these concepts in theory but I hope that this episode has been useful to you and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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    Amazing Free Content!LeaLea707 via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 05/22/22
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    “I have been listening to this Podcast for a few years now. I love how Bernadette freely shares her experiences and knowledge of renovating and how to create wealth through property. There are many people out there doing a similar things but Bernadette is the real deal. Her down to earth approach reasonates with me and I’ve learned lots from her. I’d highly recommend She Renovates!”
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    “I've been binge-listening to this podcast for the past week and it's absolutely brilliant. Bernadette has amassed so much knowledge and wisdom about renovating and she shares it generously and in a really easy to understand way that's inspired me to give it a go. Her advice is practical and I love that she approaches renovating in a really ethical and open-hearted way. Every episode honestly is gold. I also love that each episode is quite short and addresses a specific topic without any waffle. Thank you so much for this podcast!”
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    “Hands down best renovation podcast there is. There’s no scams or tricks here and Bernadette provides honest and practical advice that you can actually apply to your life. There’s also great insights into the property industry (not just renovating) and Bernadette’s simple approach gives you tools to mitigate risk and fuels confidence to start your own projects.”
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    “Bernadette is an inspiration. Warm, open and a fountain of wisdom and advice. I’ve learned so much about everything from renovating to selling to creating an independent future from this podcast. Look forward to every episode!”
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    “If you need to break through any of your limitations to find the joy and success in renovation, Bernadette is your inspiration and advisor with decades of experience. Her down to earth, practical style of sharing what works and how to keep control of any renovating project is worth tuning in for - week after week. I have done a few renovations in the (distant) past and now feel motivated to go again, this time for a change of pace and new horizons. This podcast shows the way. Thanks Bernadette, James Burgin”
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    “Just dropping by to show my support for your podcast Bernadette. I look forward to each episode and I am never disappointed with the content. It’s such a generous offering and compared to many of the other property podcasts I subscribe to, yours is the clear winner. Perfectly suited to people embarking on a new renovator journey but equally suited to more experienced folk like myself - there’s something for everyone. Keep up the great work. Your honesty is so refreshing! I look forward to future learning and hearing more student success stories. Best, David Michos (And yes... a bloke) 😉”
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    “If you have any interest at all in renovating, you would be crazy not to listen to every episode! As someone who has done many courses and a project manager by trade, i learn something every time. Bernadette is so genuine and generous and totally relatable. Do yourself a favour and subscribe now !”

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