My basement bathroom was without a doubt the most fun, expensive and difficult aspect of my entire basement finishing effort.
I had one issue that took me months to solve, and almost caused me to quit the whole project. In the end it would have taken about 60 seconds to fix, if I just known where to look. Be sure to read through to the end of the post to find out the solution.
The bathroom provides a special challenge in that everything is in a small space and it's packed with special rules. Estimating the cost of a basement bathroom can be its own challenge.
Don't worry. You've got a friend whose done this before that will guide you through the process. Me! I'm just a guy who took some time to learn it and now I'm sharing it with the you.
As I did with the other phases of finishing your basement I'll be filling in each of the areas below with more detailed blog posts.
What will your bathroom cost to build or renovate?
Basement Bathroom Costs - In this post I go over the high level breakdown of what my basement bathroom cost to build. Then I go over in detail each component of the total cost.
A good rule of thumb is to estimate 20-30% of your total basement cost to the bathroom.
Designing your basement bathroom & 3 things I would do differently - Bathrooms are small, tight rooms with lots of stuff packed into them.
There are rules (aka code) about where things need to be. Understanding the spacing and where things need to go can be tricky. Hopefully I can help out.
As much as I wanted to rent a jack-hammer and dig up concrete, I felt I was over my head with this step of the project. I called in my brother-in-law to help out. I will try to convince him to do an interview with me about the process. Stay tuned.
Ps. My basement was built with the bathroom pre-roughed in, but the layout I wanted meant I had to move it. Most people I've talked with also ended up moving their rough-in. This held me up for a while on my basement design as I tried to design something that fit the existing rough-in. My advice, just design what you want and then move the rough-in to fit.
This phase was a bit easier for me since I had already been framing the other areas of the basement. Again, the hard part was picking the right size and dimensions for the room based on where all of the bathroom components needed to go.
I had to learn all about plumbing. There's no way around it. It's about the same amount of time as learning electrical. The good news is, plumbing can't kill you. The bad news… leaks, tight spaces, and frustration until you get the techniques, tips and tricks down. Of course, I will be sharing all of those with you guys.
Electrical (for the bathroom)
Pretty much like electrical in the rest of the basement except that you need a dedicated circuit for the GFI plug. GFI stands for Ground Fault Interrupt. Basically there's some special sauce in the plug circuitry that will keep you safe should you decide to blow dry your hair while standing in water. GFI plugs in bathrooms are required by code. They also have to be on a separate electrical circuit.
Normally I'd say lighting is user preference, just make sure you have a lot of it. But I have some strong personal opinions about lighting in a bathroom. I have a tip that can literally make you look and feel 10 years younger. So I'm going to have an article just for bathroom lighting.
The Exhaust Fan
I guess this is the other "electrical" thing to consider. You don't want a bathroom fan that sounds like a jet engine. We'll get real deep and emotional about "Sones" and what they measure. Plus I'll show you how to vent your fan to the outside. NO, you cannot just vent it into the ceiling. Who wants a stinky ceiling anyway?
The Bathtub and Shower - for basement bathrooms
Full bathroom. If you have the space I expect nothing less. If you don't have the space then you get a pass. Once I learned to tile, I went a little crazy and did the entire shower surround in tile. As a result our basement bathroom is now much better than our master bathroom. I'll share with you how I managed to mess up the hot water in our entire house when i was installing the faucet for the basement bathroom.
Tile Floors / Tile Walls ! TILING!
Two words. Concrete Grinder. Next to the concrete gun this is one of the cooler power tools that I "had" to buy to get the basement done. Tile saw, affirmative, you'll need one, and they're not to expensive to buy. There's a whole bunch of tools you'll need for tiling. I will recommend a few that work perfectly fine for us non-professionals and can save you some big money.
Ode to La' Toilet
My basement toilet was free. I'll share with you how I did it. Plus I have a hilarious story about my Aunt's neighbors from Canada who financed their yearly Florida trip by smuggling 5 gal flush toilets to the states for resale. I'm not kidding! Finally, there's a $5 product that makes it easy to "trim" the bottom of your toilet if you end up using spacers to level it (like I had to). If you have an awkward looking gap between the toilet and the floor, this will solve your problem.
Vanity and the Sink
I bought my first sink for $35 off of Craigslist but I never used it. Then I got 2 brand new pedestal sinks for free, again, and didn't use those either. I'll post those details plus tips for installing a sink and why my basement bathroom end up giving our upstairs master bathroom the worlds coldest water…. Weirdest thing ever.
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I can think of at least 5 "blunders" that a I made as an amateur during the bathroom phase which the professional books, videos and websites would never talk about.
My goal with this site to give you the unique insight that can only come from someone who doesn't normally finish basements. Hopefully that will help you save TIME, MONEY and FRUSTRATION.
Cheers - Jason
More basement articles that should probably be in the toilet:
- What are the other phases to finishing a basement?
- Not sure where to start? Check out the getting started page. (DUH !)
- Maybe you're a visual learner? How about videos? instead?