World's first vertical bathroom for small spaces by Yorkshire designer set to star at Homebuilding and Renovating Show plus free tickets

The Homebuilding and Renovating Show, which is open this weekend, November 4 and 5, at the Harrogate Convention Centre is must-visit for many reasons.

It has everything from advice on navigating the planning system, self-building or extending to updating, renovating and making your home more energy efficient.

Many of those exhibiting also offer products for sale and among them there are always a few ingenious new ideas.

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Up there with the best this year is Paul Hernon from Harrogate who will be showcasing his ingenious space-saving vertical bathroom, which is thought to be a world first.

The VertebraeThe Vertebrae
The Vertebrae

Paul has spent years designing and perfecting the Vertebrae, which includes a toilet, basin, shower and storage space all in one tall and super slim upright unit.

Altogether it’s been a 22 year journey from conception through to realisation and now finally to market.

“I studied industrial design at university and came up with the idea in 2001 after a placement year with Jacuzzi Bathroom Group,” says Paul.

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“Part of the degree was on how we use space in buildings and so for my main project I focused on bathrooms and how to use the space better. This was also at a time when ensuites were becoming prevalent.”

Stacking all the elements needed on top of each other seemed obvious to him and that is the basis of the Vertebrae. He also wanted it to be ergonomic and look sculptural.

The toilet sits at the bottom, the basin is above, then comes a storage section and a shower.

Designed to be used in a wet room, the sink and loo swivel out of the way when you use the shower.

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“I had the day job and life got in the way at times but I wouldn’t let the idea go,” says Paul, who finally triumphed when he succeeded in getting a grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering that enabled him to manufacture a prototype.

He installed a space-saving Vertebrae in his own house in Harrogate in 2020 and the product is now for sale with a price tag of £9,480. He is selling direct to consumers rather than through retailers so he can keep the price keen.

The Vertebrae only needs a wet room to be a minimum of six feet by four feet and it is a cinch to fit because all the plumbing and piping is supplied.

All it needs to be operational is two drainage holes in the floor and a plumber to fix it to running water and drains.

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“I can see it being useful for developers, car homes and for homeowners who want a wet room that doesn’t need much space.

“It’s perfect for those homeowners who have young adults and elderly relatives moving in with them,” says Paul. “It would also prove very useful in London where space is at a premium. If you had a two-bedroom apartment, you could make it a two bathroom apartment and not lose much space.

"That would definitely enhance the wellbeing of occupants. It would also be helpful for developers there building micro apartments.”

You can find Paul and his remarkable Vertebrae on stand A404 at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show.

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Other interesting and innovative businesses and products at the event include PCT Chemie’s award winning TUV and BREEAM certified RETANOL screed, which is especially useful for developers.

It offers performance and savings, reduced CO2 emissions and certified sustainability and is useful in allowing customers to switch on underfloor heating just one day after installation. Final floor finishes can be laid seven days after installation.

It reduces the total process by up to 26 weeks when compared to a standard sand and cement screed and four to eight weeks faster than other proprietary screed additives, while offering 60 per cent better conductivity

Look out also for Tiny House Pro, which was founded in 2022 by two friends. Their mobile homes on a chassis are stylish and start at £75,000, though you’ll need a place to put one and a connection to water.

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For an extra £20,000 you can get an off-grid version with solar panels, a water tank and a composting toilet.

There is also a host of Yorkshire-based exhibitors and experts including HEM Architects and Houghtons of York, a family run business based in Dunnington that specialises in high quality architectural joinery and fine woodcarving for residential and commercial customers.

Renowned Thirsk based Treske, which specialises in handmade wood kitchens and furniture, will aso be there.

Spray painting is becoming increasingly popular and Altru-Page, which has over 30 years of experience in the spray painting industry, will be showcasing its talent for transforming everything from kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and furniture to UPVC windows, doors, garage doors and shop fronts.

Free reader tickets to the Northern Homebuilding & Renovating Show at the Harrogate Convention Centre are available at this link: