How To – Building A Basement Bathroom On A Budget

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    In this howto we will examine some of the options you have when building a basement bathroom and how you can save money by doing most of the work yourself.

    If you have some basic carpentry and plumbing skills building a basement bathroom doesn’t need to cost you ten thousand dollars or more. The important thing is understanding what your requirements are for meeting code and what specialty items are available to get your job done quick and on the cheap.

    The first thing you need to understand is that your plumbing most likely will require a special waste pump.  Water waste lines in the upper floors of your home are designed to flow downhill. Because the waste line that exits your home is most likely four feet above the basement waste connections to your sink, toilet and bath a collection tank and pump must be used to raise the water level above your main waste line so it will flow out of your home into your sewer line or septic system.

    You basically have two choices for your wast water pump. Some specialty toilets are mounted on a small platform with integrated pump.  This pump can be used to serve your toilet and often a small sink. If you want to install a shower that will require many gallons of water per minute to be pumped you may need to look at installing a larger dedicated waste pump with an in ground catch bin.

    Which ever method you choose you will also need to decide if you will need to build a platform to raise the height of your basement bathroom to allow for plumbing or if you will need to chopup your slab to install the waste pipes.

    I would recommend the even if you are doing the work yourself that you call in a professional for an estimate. They may be able to work with you to lower the costs or they may have suggestions as to which method you should choose for removing the waste from the fixtures.

    In the picture with this howto you can see the use of a maceration pump connected to a shower, sink and the pump is positioned behind the toilet. This is an attractive option although you do endup with exposed pipes if you do not install a platform.

    Another concern is ceiling height and before you build in your basement you should understand that you will lose both floor and ceiling height. It is very common to not realize just how much room you will lose when your floor joists are exposed and you are standing on bare concrete.

    You should expect to lose at least a half inch on your floor but more if the concrete needs to be leveled.


    Remember that you will need to install at least one light and one outlet near the sink in your bathroom. You will need to install a vent fan to remove moisture and it must exit your home which can be done by venting through the rim joist with a self closing vent cap to keep out pests.

    The electrical circuit in your bathroom must be wired to a GFCI Circuit Breaker that can be accomplished by installing a special outlet or by replacing the circuit breaker in your breaker box.  You should understand exactly how to wire the circuit if you will be doing the work yourself and I would suggest that you run a single new circuit to the bathroom from your circuit breaker box rather then taping into an existing circuit.  The choice on running a new line will be based on what other outlets are on the local circuit and the distance to the breaker box.

    Framing Your Basement Bathroom

    Drywall is probably the best choice for the interior and exterior of the bathroom. You should consider using a rot resistant fiberglass facing for the exterior walls of the room and a mold and water resistant greenboard for the interior surfaces.

    If you are installing a full bath or shower I strongly suggest that you use a retrofit fiberglass enclosure that can be assembled in pieces.  Tubs which are not really necessary in your basement even if you are converting to a full living space are very difficult to get into your basement unless you have an exterior basement door. Even if you do it will definitely be a two man job.  Retrofit / replacement tubs and showers come in many pieces which are assembled with caulk and screwed to your stud walls.

    Make sure that you understand the exact size of the assembled shower or bath so you can provide enough room while building your studwalls and remember that drywall thicknesses will also need to be taken into consideration depending on how the fixture mounts. Most often tubs are installed directly to the studs and drywall or cement board will overlap the edge on the enclosure.

    Calculating the Cost of your Basement Bathroom

    For most small bathrooms if you are completing most of the work yourself the price will be rather inexpensive as long as you don’t try to add all the high priced features you may have in your Master Bath.

    A standard price break down should be something like this

    $600 Framing & Drywall
    $200 Electrical Lighting Vent
    $150 Sink with cheap Fixture
    $300 Shower or Bath
    $100 Toilet without pump
    $250 Pump
    $100 Plumbing Pipe & Extras
    $200 Paint, Tile and Extras

    Plumbers and Electrical Fee will be extra

    So, as you can see you can most likely get a new full bath in your basement for about $2,500 give or take a couple hundred dollars.

    If you will need to call in a paid professional or if you will need to rent tools then the price will increase accordingly.

    When you inquire about professional estimates make sure that you fully understand what you are contracting them to do. Home Bathroom remodels are notorious for being money pits. They often attract some of the biggest scamers in the industry so it would be better if you contract directly with a licensed plumber or electrician and ask them direct questions.

    Like: How much for a 100 foot 15amp wire Drop from my Circuit Box to the basement Bathroom with 4 boxes one for a fan one for a light, one for a GFCI Outlet and one for a switch.

    That will definitely get you a lower price then saying we have been thinking about putting in a bathroom what do you suggest.

    And if you run the wire yourself and tell them your brother in-law a licensed electrician from three states over.. was doing it but walked off the job because of family reasons .. you may even get a discount.

    Tools & Home Improvement

    Kitchen & Bath Fixtures



    Bathroom Sinks

    Bathtubs & Showers

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