Off of the top of your head, tell me, with furnishings excluded, what do you think is the most expensive room in the house? Most people will say it’s the kitchen, or the living room, or maybe even the master bedroom. I can tell you that I was surprised when I found out what the most expensive room in the house is in one of my architectural classes one day: without furnishings, the most expensive room in the house is the bathroom. In fact, you might also be surprised to know that it’s the only room in the house that you can use even before it is furnished. No wonder Hang Fung Gold Technology Group in Hong Kong decided to build a bathroom made of gold!
Bathrooms accrue their expensive price tags because of the amount of material that goes into building them. Tiles, waterproofing, a bath tub, a toilet, a wash basin, a toilet roll holder, the faucets, cabinetry, pipes, and more – all these add up until you’ve got a small treasure in the form of an entire room in your house. And truth be told, there are really very few things you can do to keep the costs down if you want to make your bathroom comfortable – and almost everybody wants a comfortable bathroom.
Of course, you can cut costs by buying cheaper materials and fixtures, and there are many ways of doing this. You can also buy your materials and fixtures from a lower rated manufacturer, but you can never be sure about the quality. There are also lower priced items by reputable sellers, but lower priced items from the same seller either aren’t very much cheaper or are from a product line that you won’t find very comfortable at all.
Before studying architecture, I was lucky enough to have dated a girl who is now one of the project managers for a toilet fixtures manufacturer in my country, and I also met and made friends with several individuals associated with the toilet fixtures industry while in school. They all filled me in on a little secret: many popular brands do not manufacture their own fixtures, manufacturing is outsourced to original equipment manufactures (OEMs) in China, where there are abundant deposits of fine clay and working with ceramics is a centuries old trade. In fact, they make almost every fixture in the bathroom in China, from the faucets to the towel bars and rings to the tubs and wash basins – you name it, they make it there.
The thing is, there is nothing that stops OEMs from using the same manufacturing techniques for products of their own design. OEMs however agree not to put the brand of the companies that outsource manufacturing to them on the products they manufacture. But of course, products without recognizeable brand names don’t sell very well. OEMs are a tightly kept secret and companies like Roca or Kohler go through a lot of measures to keep consumers from finding out who actually manufactures their products. That girl I had dated even told me that when bathroom fixtures arrive at their warehouse, the only in-house manufacturing that occurs is the imprinting of the company’s logo and brand name and the final glaze firing of the products.
So the best way of getting the best quality bathroom fixtures at rock bottom prices is to go right to their very source: China. Many Chinese OEMs will sell products of their own that they manufacture with the same techniques with which they manufacture their clients’ products. With some diligent searching you might find a few of the “heavier” bathroom fixtures like bath tubs, wash basins, and toilets from online sellers, but smaller fixtures are usually quite easily available. You’ll find bathroom and shower faucets, soap holders, and more from a good online China shop.