Installing a bathroom: Plumbing and permits and estimates, oh my!

So you want to install a bathroom. Plumbing may be the most intimidating aspect of bathroom installation . . .

So you want to install a bathroom. Plumbing may be the most intimidating aspect of bathroom installation ... or is it ensuring your space is up to code? Sure, we're talking about specs, pipes, water and waste, but get those last two things mixed up and the bathroom of your dreams quickly turns into a nightmare. While you may have picked out the tile and granite you love, the devil is in the details when it comes to adding a bathroom to your home. Here are some tips on how to tackle the less sexy aspects of your new bathroom, from the plumbing to code violations.

If these walls could talk

Firstly, find out if your home is pre-plumbed for a bathroom addition. You may be pleasantly surprised that some of the bones for your basement bathroom are already in place. Perhaps the previous owner planned to add a bathroom and never did, or perhaps he or she planned ahead for resale value. You may need to duck into a crawl space to check out the situation behind the walls. If you are unsure of what bathroom plumbing looks like (it's okay, you aren't alone), ask for a free estimate from a plumber or bathroom contractor to determine what you are working with before you get too ahead of yourself and select matching guest towel sets.

Estimate this

This brings us to our next point: The free estimate is king when it comes to planning a bathroom addition. Talk to three bathroom contractors and get their estimates before you commit. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. For example, are there areas where you can save money by selecting a less expensive sink or toilet? Can you buy the elements anywhere or does the contractor work with specified vendors? Make a list of questions if you need to.

Know the code

One important topic to cover is whether your bathroom addition will require more than meets the eye. For instance, if you plan to install a bathroom in a finished attic, do you have adequate space to meet your needs? Is the ceiling tall enough for a shower that is up to code? Since you may need a permit to complete the project, make sure you know what the specifications for a bathroom installation are in your state.

Go with a pro

Basically, you won't know until you talk to a pro. When it comes to installing a bathroom, plumbing and code violations aren't in everyone's wheel house. That's why finding someone you can trust to guide you through the challenging world of pipes and permits is the way to go when you're adding a new bathroom.

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