Should I install a bathroom in my finished basement?
This basement remodeling project included a full bath to provide a comfortable living area for visiting relatives. (Submitted by Dorana H. of Mendham, N.J.).
If you are planning a basement remodel or you already have a finished basement, you may be considering a full or half bathroom installation in the basement. While a basement bathroom adds great convenience, it also comes with significant challenges so know what you are getting into before you start. Here are the pros and cons of a bathroom installation in your basement.
Advantages of adding a basement bathroom
There are plenty of uses for a finished basement and whether you use your lower level space as a play area for kids or as a place for guests to sleep, installing a bathroom down there will make things work more smoothly. Kids won't be running up and down the stairs and your guest will feel more comfortable with their own plumbing.
A fully finished basement adds value to your home, and by adding a full bathroom installation, you make it a truly livable space. Once you've made the commitment to add plumbing for a bathroom, you can also consider a kitchenette or bar area.
Adding plumbing also opens the possibility to turning your basement into a rentable living space if you are looking for ways to earn some extra cash through your home.
Disadvantages of adding a basement bathroom
It may sound easy to put install a bathroom in your basement, but actually getting water down to your basement and back out again can pose a challenge.Installing water pipes is a fairly major undertaking in any room, but basements have cement floors -- and someone will need to jackhammer into that cement in order to install drains, which will be expensive and noisy. Installing a bathroom in your basement will, on average, add $10,000-$15,000 to your basement remodeling costs.
Some basements already have a floor drain -- and if you have piping for a utility sink or washing machine hookup, you have a head start. Unfortunately, the floor drain is unlikely to be in the right location so you'll still need to do some digging.
If you need an entirely new drain, one option is to install a sump pump that pushes the waste water up to the level of your regular household drain, which is often near the ceiling of a basement. This reduces the amount of digging and no new drain pipe is needed to extend beyond the home's exterior walls.
You may be able to get around breaking into your foundation with specialized plumbing fixtures like upflush toilets, composting toilets or sewer ejector systems, but they come with a hefty price tag of their own.
Although many homeowners can do small plumbing jobs around the house, installing a basement bathroom will most likely require hiring a professional. It's a complex job, so make sure to pick a reputable professional plumber. They will be able to pull the appropriate permits for you and ensure everything is up to code when the project is done, saving you money and peace of mind in the long run.
Remember, you'll probably also need some additional remodeling work to frame in the bathroom. If you plan to hire someone to do this work, get those estimates at the same time. Many basement remodeling contractors will give you an itemized bid that includes the bathroom plumbing work.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of the article originally published on Feb. 5, 2013.