Nobody wants to end up with their knees beside their ears when using the loo, or with a handbasin that lets you wash just one finger at a time, or having to give up the spa bath because the room is just too small.

So make sure you know what fittings you want and instruct your architect accordingly. And check with a plumber to ensure you have the correct water pressure to run your fittings or taps.

With sanitaryware and taps you get what you pay for.

Expensive will look better and the chances are that it will last a lot longer, but we all can’t afford imported luxury, so make sure you have enough time to visit all the merchants to establish that you are getting the best deal for the best product.

Remember, cash is king, and folding notes in your hand will get you a much better deal than allowing your plumber or builder to buy it on his account.

Let’s take a slow walk through your house for few tips for different rooms.

Kitchen/pantry: This is the cook’s domain so make sure it’s user-friendly for cooking. A prep bowl for preparing vegetables etc and ensuring that there is a water supply near the cooking area is important.

Having decided that you want one, make sure it’s big enough to use and that the flow of tap water is not so strong that it bounces up towards the ceiling. Check this with all taps and basins.

I like big sinks for washing up, so if you have enough space and cash, get the biggest, deepest, double or triple sink you can find, with enough space to get those big pots in, and remember, draining areas covered in stainless steel will outlast anything else.

If you have a dishwasher, make sure the plumbing is correct for the make you are choosing, and that there is more than enough space to get to the stopcock and drainage outlet.

I am not a fan of having dishwashers built in under counters.

Finally, if you really want to spoil yourself, don’t forget the garbage disposal unit or an instant water heater if you have pressure on your geyser usage.

Laundry: As with dishwashers, I like to be able to see my stopcock and drainage outlet. In case of problems you need to be able to act fast, so stay away from under-counter units. Remember, many washing machines also need a hot water supply, so again check first and have the correct piping fitted.

The other handy item in the laundry is an old-fashioned wash tub, preferably with a wash board side for rubbing those mud-stained sport clothes, and also great for cleaning rugby boots or golf shoes. As the wash tub tends to be left full of water and clothing overnight to soak, ensure that it has been fixed securely to the wall and is not hanging precariously on inadequate brackets.

Don’t forget to make sure that there is the correct outlet or ventilation for your tumble dryer.

Handy hints: Internal wall problems, plumbing damp

Last week we checked out the obvious causes of plumbing damp, but now it’s time for the less obvious.

The main culprits for plumbing damp are baths and showers. Leaks around handbasins or toilets are often easy to spot. Just remember to keep an eye on the shelving in vanity cupboards under handbasins – melamine is sensitive to damp and swells easily. If you notice this appearing, check that the waste is not leaking and that the seal between the basin and vanity top is sound.

Bath: Overfilling and too much splashing can be fun but damp. If the bath is not properly built in and seated correctly, the combined weight of you and the water will cause movement, which will cause the joint between bath and wall to open up. This will also happen if you have a shower fitted over the bath; just standing in an incorrectly fitted bath will cause movement at the joints. However, the main cause of damp from baths is a badly fitted or leaking trap. Easy to spot if you have a free-standing bath, but difficult if the bath is built-in.

Back in the day, built-in baths were fitted with removal access panels so that access to the trap was easy, now of course the plumber is going to have to break through your tiles. Before letting him go ahead, check if it is easier to break through under the bath from the adjoining room or from outside, as plaster and paint are easier to repair than trying to replace tiles that may no longer be available.

Showers: Probably the most common cause of plumbing damp, there is an interface of three trades, builder, plumber and tiler, none of whom wants to take responsibility for the finished article and each just as likely to damage the other’s work. Also most clients believe that tiles fixed with waterproof adhesive and grout will not allow water to penetrate, but I beg to differ.

Showers should be fully waterproofed and “tanked” before the plaster is applied. Plastering over the waterproofing gives the tiler a much smoother surface to tile on and protects the waterproofing membrane, whatever it may be.

Like baths, most shower leaks occur around the waste or at base level. If you have a half-decent tiling job, with no holes left around taps, the chances of water getting through are much less on the walls than at the base. If you are going to the expense of removing the shower base, ensure that all materials are removed down to concrete level and that the area is properly waterproofed, including the walls.

Preformed shower bases, like baths, will move and cause leaks. Before allowing the plumber to hack everything out, check to see that the shower doors are not leaking, plug the drain and fill up the base, check for leakage around the door, and if you can spare the time, leave the water in the base and see if it soaks away.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that modern technology has made it much easier to detect leaks and there are now many reputable companies that can isolate the cause of your leak using dye, gas or pressure tests.

If your leak is not obvious it may be well worth your while to use one of them, before the plumber or builder demolishes your house trying to find the leak. - Weekend Argus