Nik Kokotovich has been a licensed builder since 1998 and is Managing Director of Building Services Group, his own building company specialising in renovating, building new homes, and commercial work. Nik’s building clients are some of the biggest Blue Chip names in Australia.

With such a wealth of knowledge under his belt, we turned to Nik to share his best advice for planning a functional, eco-friendly bathroom. He has priceless tips for home renovators given his expertise in plumbing and ventilation!


What’s the best way to plan your bathroom for optimal ventilation?

One of the first things I take into consideration when I’m doing a bathroom renovation, or building one from scratch, is ventilation. I want to know what access the bathroom has to fresh air and what the best type of exhaust fan will be for the bathroom’s size and layout.

Of course it helps to have a window, but not everyone likes to open one, especially in cold climates or areas where privacy may be compromised.

Some bathrooms or ensuites may not have a window because they aren’t attached to an external wall. An exhaust fan is a must, but it’s important to consider a few other things to ensure that it can do the best job possible:

Try to get the height set for your bathroom ceiling as high up as possible to allow for more air space above head level;

  • Always leave a gap between the top of the shower screen and the ceiling to avoid creating a steam chamber;
  • Place the exhaust fan somewhere between the shower and toilet or, if it’s a three-in-one light, heat lamp and exhaust fan, put it in the centre of the room; and
  • Finally, consider where the exhaust fan is going to vent. Avoid having the duct blow up into the roof space or attic because it will cause moisture which will smell and could turn into mould. Ideally, the duct should be kept as straight as possible and vent through a wall to the outside. 

Ultimately, the goal is to achieve airflow through the bathroom to remove steam and odour, and to prevent mould building up, causing sustained long-term damage to the finishes in the bathroom.


Have you got any tips for maximising the energy efficiency of the fan? 

One of the most common issues with ducted ceiling fans is back draft. In the winter months you may get a cold draft come back through the exhaust fan and the opposite effect in the summer time. My suggestion is to find an exhaust fan that has a self-sealing module to prevent the air blowing back in when not in use. This will save you money on your heating or cooling bill.

Also, depending on the type of fan, you may want to have it switched on with the light so you can ensure that when leaving the room and turning the light off the fan will also turn off.

With the three-in-one models, choose eco-friendly and energy efficient light globes.

What is the best type of water heater to install? 

This is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think there is one best hot water heater simply because it comes down to personal choice and the type of services available at your home.

Gas: There’s a gas hot water unit and a gas instantaneous unit. One is a storage unit available in different sizes (up to about 300 litres). The other is the instantaneous unit, which is a small compact unit that heats the water as is passes through, making it never-ending.

Electric: Then you have the choice of electrical water heaters that are also storage units holding up to 300 litres, but run on an electrical element that heats the water on an electrical cycle.

Solar: Of course, these days we have solar hot water heating, which is the newest technology. If installed and used correctly it can save you a lot of money over the long run.

You can choose off peak which will only heat the water over night (during off peak times) or you can choose to have the water heated a second time during the day allowing plenty of hot water for the evening.


So, what is the best type of water heater to install?

Go for the one that best suits your lifestyle and the size of your family. Consider things like initial outlay versus the long term cost to run and what space you have to install it in. 


What is the most eco-friendly/high-pressure showerhead to choose? 

The most eco-friendly and high-pressure showerheads on the market today are the aerated ones. Unlike traditional water saving showerheads, they have flow restrictors inserted, charged by high air pressure built up in the showerhead, creating the intense flow of water-on-skin while using up to 30% less water.

By using less water you’re also using less hot water, which means less cost on your bills. The savings over the long term on the aerated shower heads could potentially save you up to $100 per year just on the water bill alone. Remember the star rating is important. The more stars means the more eco-friendly and cost efficient it will be. 


What are your tips for sustainable plumbing?

Sustainable plumbing has come a long way in recent years. Nowadays just about all home renovations or newly built homes must comply with strict conditions when it comes to sustainable plumbing. Here are a few items to look out for:

  •  When purchasing the taps remember to look for the star rating;
  •  Things like your toilets, garden hose and irrigation can all feed from your water tank, which is free and harvested from your roof;
  • Showerheads have come a long way in reducing water usage, but still maintain that high-pressure feel with aerated products; and
  • Other things like using poly pipes instead of copper pipes are very common these days and the cost benefits are a no-brainer.

There are thousands of great plumbing products on the market and making choices can be confusing. I recommend you consult with a licensed plumber to ensure that the products you buy are right for you and your family, but also compliant with local and government regulations. 

12 January 2016