Dear James: We are planning a do-it-yourself project to add another bathroom for the children. What are the basic design considerations, and what is the proper construction sequence to save time? -- Janine H.
Dear Janine: There are many items to consider when installing a new bathroom. A bathroom is a unique room from a design standpoint because it is somewhat like a minihouse. It will have its own plumbing, electricity with ground fault circuit interrupters, ventilation, built-in lighting and perhaps heating.
For this same reason, the proper sequence of construction steps can really save a lot of time, particularly with the plumbing. If one item is installed out of sequence, such as tile or a bathtub, it may have to be ripped out to install something else.
It would be wise to consult your local building codes first. They may have required clearances around the sink, bathtub and toilet, and there are definitely codes related to electric wiring and plumbing. You are dealing with electricity, water and metal -- which is a conductor -- in close proximity to one another.
Even though this is an indoor project and no one will know you are doing it, get the proper permits and have the construction inspected by your building department. The additional fees will be worth it. If you do not have it inspected and a subsequent owner gets hurt due to a code violation, you may be legally liable.
As with most building projects, build the wall framing first and then install the plumbing and electrical wiring. The wiring is last because it is flexible and easier to run around other fixed obstructions inside the walls. One tip is to locate the studs, at the end of the bathtub, such that the water valve will be located in the center of the stud cavity. This allows more clearance for easier installation.
You may want to add radiant heating to your bathroom floor for ultimate comfort. Electric radiant floor heating is generally the best method for a small room. The thermostat can be located on the wall. The heating cable or mats can be placed in a thin layer of cement or sometimes underneath carpeting. WarmlyYours makes simple kits for this specific application.
Once the wall framing, electric wiring and plumbing are completed, install the bathtub or shower stall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper base to support and direct any water leaks into the drain. Cover the bathtub with a thick blanket and plastic drop cloth to keep abrasive dust off it while you are installing the drywall and tiles, and to cushion any dropped tools.
It's a good idea to install cast-iron drainpipes if the bathroom is near a bedroom. The weight of the cast iron damps out sounds. Also, use 3/4-inch hot and cold water supply lines, instead of standard 1/2-inch lines, to reduce the sound level.
It is important to install the proper size ceiling vent fan. If the fan is too small, it's low airflow capacity will not remove adequate moisture after bathing or showering. When sizing a bathroom vent fan, multiply the square footage of the bathroom by 1.1 to get the airflow rate in cubic feet per minute.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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