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 your house doesn't have enough bathrooms, and if you already have a finished basement, one option is to have a full or half bathroom installed in the basement. Here are the pros and cons of doing so.
Advantages of adding a basement bathroom
If you use your finished basement 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 plumbing you make it a truly livable space -- a teenager's room or perhaps a 'man cave' or exercise room. Once you've made the commitment to add plumbing for a bathroom, you can also consider a kitchenette or bar area.
Disadvantages of adding a basement bathroom
Installing water pipes is a fairly major undertaking in any room, but the special thing about basements is that they have cement floors -- and someone will need to jackhammer into that cement in order to install the drains. That will be expensive and noisy. 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.
Although many homeowners can do small plumbing jobs around the house, installing a basement bathroom requires hiring a professional plumber. This is a big job and a lot can go wrong, so take your time picking the right service provider. Check Angie's List to find well-established plumbing companies that have a solid history of positive reviews from former customers. A job like this can't be estimated over the phone, so plan on having at least three different plumbing companies come to your home to examine the space and give you a formal estimate.
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.