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A Basement Bathroom in 5 Days

The basement bathroom will serve two purposes (and I don’t mean #1 and #2). Double joists that support structure on the upper levels are sagging. Our architect recommended we build walls those joists for structural reinforcement. And, because we are losing our only bathroom during the renovations, a bathroom in the basement will give us a place to go while everything is torn up. So the walls of the bathroom will serve as supporting walls for the upper levels.

Day 1:  Plumbing rough-in

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The contractors used a jackhammer to break up the concrete in the area where they will be running the plumbing. Hearing protection is a must!

sewage pit
The sewage pit and the trench for the plumbing.

Once the trench and sewage pit were dug out, the ABS was roughed in. The waste will travel to the sewage pit, which will house a pump that will eject the waste up to the main drain.

plumbing rough-in
Plumbing rough-in

Day 2:  Framing

Thursday March 12

With the rough-in complete, the contractors began building the walls. Our large workroom will now be three separate rooms– a bathroom between two 10×12 rooms– roughly what the original layout was on the main floor.

The walls are located under structural double joists which supported the walls of the original bathroom on the main floor.  Those walls in turn supported the second floor.  The previous owner removed one of those walls but the other wall remains and will remain after the renovation.

One double joist had sagged 3/4 of an inch while the other one sagged 5/8 of an inch.  The contractors used jack-posts to crank the joists back up to level before installing the stud walls.

jack posts
Three jack-posts were needed to get rid of the 3/4″ sag in this double joist.

stud wall and framed doorway
The jack-posts were replaced with a stud wall (that would also be one of the bathroom walls).

When you jack up a structure such as this, you have to expect some damage to the finishing materials on the levels above. Fortunately, the main floor on this side of the house is going to be gutted anyway, so the resulting damage to the main floor bathroom was no big deal.

stress crack in drywall
The resulting stress crack on the second floor.

Other cracks showed up in the hallway (also slated for demolition) and in the bedroom upstairs (minor damage that will be relatively easy to repair). Damage to tile floors is also common with this type of repair.  However, there was no damage to any of the floor or wall tiles in the bathroom.

At the end of the second day, the framing is complete (except for the header over one of the doors), and most of the wiring has been roughed in.

Day 3:  Tub and water lines

Friday March 13

The most obvious accomplishment Friday was the installation of the bathtub.  The contractors installed and pressure tested the pex lines for the water supply.  They also insulated and installed vapor barrier on the exterior wall and stated hanging some of the oriented strand board (OSB) sheets.  The OSB will serve as a backer board for the acrylic (I think) wall and ceiling material.

bathtub and rough framing
The tub has been installed

With no construction taking place on the weekend, we made another trip to Home Depot to shop for flooring materials for the main floor and the wall tiles for the main bathroom.  Then we spent the rest of the weekend moving stuff out of the bedroom and setting up our temporary sleeping area in the family room.

Day 4-5:

Monday March 16- Tuesday March 17

On Monday, the contractors returned and continued working on the bathroom, installing the rest of the wall panels.

On Tuesday, they installed the sink and toilet and hung the door.  They still have to run the vent duct to the outside of the house, but for all intents and purposes we now have a fully functioning bathroom in our basement.

We still have a couple of finishing touches left, such as hanging the medicine cabinet and stuff like that, and I still need to do a thorough cleaning of the fixtures and floor, but everything works and works well.

basic basement bathroom
Except for a few accessories, the bathroom is finished.

The toilet is only a 4.5 liter flush, but it has more power than our old standard flush toilet.  The sink is a simple pedestal, with room on the back corner ledges for soap and toothpaste.  The tub is an economical steel one– the most affordable tub that Home Depot sells.  I had briefly contemplated stepping up to an acrylic or fiberglass tub out of concerns for the steel being very cold in the basement, but the chances of someone actually taking a bath downstairs are pretty slim.  In fact, we would have opted for a shower unit, had they not been more expensive than the tub.

The floor is TrafficMaster Allure Resilient Tile over DriCore subfloor panels.  Allure is as easy to install as peel and stick tile, but sticks to itself rather than the floor so it is waterproof and suitable bathrooms.  Plus it looks good and has a 25 year warranty.  Both Allure and DriCore are available at Home Depot.

A luxury bathroom it isn’t, but it serves its purpose.


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