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» Adding a Bathroom in the Basement

How Did I Do It? > Home & Garden > Adding a Bathroom in the Basement
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Construction Week 3, Day 15

I haven’t had much time lately but it’s just as well because I am still awaiting the arrival of my bathtub. I’ve tried to think of what I can do during this time and one thing I thought of is the bathroom fan. Because I am adding a bathroom in the basement, and the bathroom has no windows, a fan is required. This fan must vent to the outside, which means going through an exterior wall. I will run the duct between the joists and the wall seven feet away from the fan.

I first figured out exactly where to put the fan and installed the fan housing.

With the fan housing installed, I followed the vent to where it meets the outer wall.

Next I drilled a pilot hole through the exterior wall to mark the location outside. The first image shows where I drilled between the joists (the red thing is the back of the drill). The second picture shows the drill bit sticking out on the outside of the house. To avoid ripping the vinyl siding, I did the remaining work from the outside.

With the pilot hole marked, I traced the hole using a pencil attached to a string.

I cut away the siding using a pair of tin snips and then drilled a series of holes around the circle.

To connect the holes to each other, I used a 3/4 inch wood chisel.

This next image shows the hole. I had to be careful with wires on theninside of the house. Here you can see one of these wires through the hole (In the pilot hole picture above, you can see that I tied the wires back using a cable tie to help me avoid drilling into them).

I screwed in the vent cover and sprayed the foam insulation to protect the hole from the elements.

And now the vent is finished – only took me an hour and a half (it would have taken less time but I had to break up a couple of arguments the boys were having). Doesn’t it look nice.

Day 16

I guess it’s high time to let somebody else do some work for once. That’s right, I went ahead and hired a plumber to do the rough plumbing. I was going to do it myself but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do it. So we got a few bids and went with the guy that was second cheapest.

He was able to rough in all three pieces in half a day – I figured he should be able to. It probably would have taken me a week to do it and I think this ended up being well worth it. If I were made of money, I’d hire out the entire project 🙂

Enough chatter. Here’s a picture of the tub as installed (it’s actually two pictures put together so it looks somewhat funny). The “rough plumbing” of the tub includes installing the drain and water lines but not the shower head.

This next image shows the roughed-in toilet supply line.

And finally, here is the rough-in for the sink. Note that the drain pipe has been stubbed out and a plastic bag is inserted into the end. This is to keep sewer gases from coming into the basement (there’s no p-trap yet!).

Ah, it’s so nice to tell someone else what to do and then have them do it. Oh well, I guess it’s back to work tomorrow.

Day 17

Now that the rough plumbing has been completed, I can finish the rest of the basement (not today of course). Tonight I was able to frame up the final two bathroom walls. I was so excited to get this done that I almost forgot to put the doorway into the wall. Fortunately I realized this after marking the top/bottom plates but before nailing anything!

Here are a couple of pictures to show this all framed up. Once again, these are composite images so they look a little funny but it gives a better idea of how this looks (the camera can only zoom out so far).

I also put in the duct for the bathroom fan. This is a picture showing the duct attached to both the fan and the vent that I installed last Saturday.

I guess the last thing to mention is the door header. Because this is not a bearing wall, the header can be made from 2×4 studs. I cut two of them and they stand on the narrow edge, sandwiching a 1/4 inch piece of particle board. This makes the header the same size as the wide end of the 2×4 on which it rests. In this image, I have tried to highlight the different header components so you can see them more easily.

That’s all for tonight. I probably won’t get to do anything tomorrow – it’s temple night. I hope to get some time on Saturday (no BYU game this week), then I won’t be able to do anything for a week (until October 5). But things are progressing.

Day 17

Now that the rough plumbing has been completed, I can finish the rest of the basement (not today of course). Tonight I was able to frame up the final two bathroom walls. I was so excited to get this done that I almost forgot to put the doorway into the wall. Fortunately I realized this after marking the top/bottom plates but before nailing anything!

Here are a couple of pictures to show this all framed up. Once again, these are composite images so they look a little funny but it gives a better idea of how this looks (the camera can only zoom out so far).

I also put in the duct for the bathroom fan. This is a picture showing the duct attached to both the fan and the vent that I installed last Saturday.

I guess the last thing to mention is the door header. Because this is not a bearing wall, the header can be made from 2×4 studs. I cut two of them and they stand on the narrow edge, sandwiching a 1/4 inch piece of particle board. This makes the header the same size as the wide end of the 2×4 on which it rests. In this image, I have tried to highlight the different header components so you can see them more easily.

That’s all for tonight. I probably won’t get to do anything tomorrow – it’s temple night. I hope to get some time on Saturday (no BYU game this week), then I won’t be able to do anything for a week (until October 5). But things are progressing.

Day 18

Today, I finished the wall dividing the office from the hallway. This wall also has a closet on it. The basement is really starting to take shape now. I have once again put together a bunch of pictures to show how this looks. Hopefully it’s not terribly difficult to make out.

As I said in the previous day, I will not be able to do any work on the basement this next week so my next day will be Saturday, one week from today. I will get on some of the electrical stuff at that time.

Day 19

As promised, I’m here to do electrical work. Actually, I already did little bits and pieces in that week that I was waiting for the bathtub to be delivered so I guess I cheated a little bit on my log. After spending most of the day today on the electrical work, I have about 70% of it done.

I wanted to use can lights, or recessed lighting, because they don’t stick out from the finished ceiling. I put 8 lights in the family room and 4 lights in the office.

The first thing to do for installing these lights is figure out exactly where to place them. The cans that hold the lights are relatively large and will stick up between the joists about 8 inches. Because ductwork, water and gas lines, and electric lines for the rest of the house run between and under the joists, I am somewhat limited in where I can place these lights. Fortunately, I was able to figure out a spacing that should work pretty well. I first hung the lights without fixing them into the studs to be sure my placement looks ok. (Actually, I first started by nailing one in, but then had to move it several times and so I got smart and just hung them until I was sure of the exact placement.)

These cans slide back and forth on an expanding track. The way I “hung” these lights was to lengthen the track so that it would just sit on top of the lower 2×3 flange (the bottom of the I joist). With the placement figured out, I set them in place. These come with a piece of sheet metal cut so that it can be quickly nailed in. The next figure highlights this so you can see what I’m talking about.

I added a screw to assure that the track would not fall out.

With the track in place, I slid the can along the track to the exact location where I wanted it. It must be at least an inch away from the joist. When the can’s location is correct, I tightened the “set screw” so that it would not be able to move.

I’m now ready for wiring. Adjacent to the can is a wiring box. This is where the leads for the light will be connected to the leads from the junction box. Because I have multiple lights together on a single switch, I will have an incoming wire (from the light switch) and an outgoing wire (to the next light). It’s a simple matter of connecting black-to-black, white-to-white, and ground-to-ground. This image shows the wires all connected using wire nuts. There are three wires per connection: incoming, outgoing, and the lead to the light.

The wires are all tucked into the box and the cover is replaced. You should only see the incoming and outgoing wires if all is done properly.

The wiring inside the boxes where your light switches will be can become a little complicated, especially when there will be multiple light switches in a single box. If you’re wanting to do this type of project, I suggest that you get a book on wiring before you start. The book “Wiring 1-2-3” from Home Depot is an excellent resource in my opinion.

Here is my most complicated wire box. It is a 3-gang box, meaning there are three switches in it. Two switches are single-switch units, meaning that only the one switch will connect to the lights. This is different from the third, which is called a three-way switch. With a three-way switch, there are two different switches that can control the lights. This is typical of a hallway or staircase, where one switch at each end of the hallway/staircase controls the light in the middle. (Incidentally, did you know that if you put one switch in the middle so it is not up or down, then the other switch will not be able to turn the light on? Give it a try!) Ok, here’s a picture of this 3-gang box.

A single incoming power source is split using a “pigtail” so that each light switch will have its own power source. These incoming leads are shown across the bottom of the picture.

The single-switch units have only one outgoing hot wire, shown at the top right in the picture. The three-way switch has two outgoing wires called “travelers”. These will only connect to the other light switch, and they are shown at the top left in the picture. The neutral wires are already connected and pushed into the back of the box but you can probably see the ground wires sticking out of the box.

The last thing I want to mention is nail plates. Whenever electrical

lines are within 1.5 inches of the edge of a stud, you need a nail plate in front of it. This protects the wires from drywall screws. If you someday are trying to screw into a stud and the screw seems to hit a hard metal surface, you have probably hit a nail plate. DO NOT drill a hole into the stud through the nail plate to allow the screw to penetrate the surface – you may get zapped or start a fire! (These are also placed in front of water lines – think of what would happen if you drilled a hole into one of them.) Anyway, here’s a picture of some nail plates.

If you drill right through the center of the studs, the inspector will often require you to nail plate both sides of the studs. When I drilled my holes, I just offset them to one side of the studs so I only had to nail plate one side. (Of course, if you anticipate long screws being used such as to hold shelving, it might be a good idea to go ahead and nail plate both sides anyway.)

Day 20

Tonight, I framed up my last couple of wall sections. One was the last main ceiling section covering the duct work, and the other was a small section to define the rest of the utility room.
Before I could add these walls, I had to move the main circuit breaker box. I only had to move it three inches to the right, so I didn’t take any pictures of it. I guess I could have. Oh well.

Here is a picture of the “ceiling box” that I built to put around the ductwork.

I got a neighbor to come over and help me lift it in place while I screwed it into the joists. Here’s a picture of it installed.

Here’s a picture of the small wall section along the utility closet. This will have a double-door in the open space to gain access to the closet. At the right of the picture, you can see the circuit breaker panel. The reason I had to move it to the right (as described above) is because the door would have barely covered it. Moving it over 3 inches fixed this potential problem.

The last thing I did tonight was continue to build the box to drop the ceiling around my water & gas lines. I did this through the hallway tonight. Here are a couple of pictures showing these 2x2s.

Day 21

Because I finished framing yesterday, I could now continue with the the electrical work. I spent a good part of the evening working in the dark with a flashlight.

The basement has a set of five (temporary) lights that will eventually go away. You can see one of these in the first picture on the day 19 page. The switch for these lights was located at the bottom of the stairs. I needed to use that location for a couple of my can lights (as shown in the plan), so I had to move the switch. I turned off the circuit breaker for the basement lights so I had to work in the dark.

Since I was working with these lights, I thought I’d go ahead and do something else. I moved one of the existing lights from just outside the utility room to just inside it. Since the utility room is not a “livible area”, my final plan uses the light in there. I moved the light switch to where it needed to be in the utility room. Right now, all the basement lights are attached to this switch. When I get ready to put drywall in the ceiling, I will just need to detach the chain of lights from this one light, leaving only the utility room light on the switch inside the utility room. Does that make sense?

Here is a picture of the electric work on the utility room walls. On the picture, Outlet 1 is facing inside the utility room – to be used mainly by the water softener. Outlets 2 and 3 are facing into the family room. The light switch is on the other side of the stud (you can see wires coming out of it). This is now the light switch for all the basement lights.

Comments

19 comments
  1. Enter Your Name
    September 8, 2008

    Looks good!! I’m just starting mine and have a long waaay to go. Plus as you stated earlier, I’m not made of money, so doing it all myself.

    Leave a reply
  2. Enter Your Name
    September 9, 2008

    Enter Your Comment
    I am also starting mine and wondering what kind of nails I should by

    Leave a reply
  3. tony
    September 9, 2008

    I am also starting mine and wonderring what kind of nails I should buy

    Leave a reply
  4. Enter Your Name
    November 5, 2008

    I’m finishing my basement right now and I find that 3 inch construction screws work a little better. If you make a mistake just put the drill in reverse plus the hold better and my thumbs thank me

    Leave a reply
  5. Rhonda
    November 22, 2008

    We are finishing our basement and would like to know what are our options as far as covering our six floor jacks that will be standing in the middle of our “family” room.

    Leave a reply
  6. John Lemming
    December 8, 2008

    Adding a bathroom to your home can be rather expensive, but it will also increase the value of your home, if you want to sell it. If you are living in a neighborhood, where houses have more than one or two bathrooms, a bathroom addition can be a must!

    Other important factors for the bathroom addition cost are the type of materials used, the installation work, and the cost of labor you hire. Perhaps, you will also need to pay for the changes in the house plan. If you find it useful, you can check out a free online bathroom addition cost calculator at http://www.remodelestimates.com.

    If you want to know how to save money, while making a bathroom remodel, you can purchase a book called “101 Ways to Save When You Remodel Your Home”, found at http://www.remodelormove.com/shopping.

    Leave a reply
  7. buy anavar
    April 20, 2009

    Interesting blog, nice design, i have bookmarked it for the future referrence

    Leave a reply
  8. deborah bradshaw
    April 22, 2009

    how much was the cost of materials, did you hire a plumber,and then what was your total costed?

    Leave a reply
  9. Simon
    July 13, 2009

    Great post, loved reading it. Some of the pictures were not clear.

    Leave a reply
  10. Plumber Phoenix
    July 13, 2009

    Sometimes doing it all by yourself might be way more expensive than hiering a contractor

    Leave a reply
  11. SR
    October 19, 2009

    Good Tips, thanks

    Leave a reply
  12. Badeværelsesmøbler
    November 26, 2009

    Great “how to do it” guide. 🙂 It looks really good.

    Leave a reply
  13. bob
    November 30, 2009

    Good tips man! Yeah I watch house flipping shows alot and you can save 10,000 – 30,000 bucks doing it yourself. Labors expensive 🙂

    Leave a reply
  14. katie
    March 12, 2010

    hi there my grandparents and i are moving into a new house and im planning on turning the basement into a apartment for my bf and i but it doesnt have a bathroom, bedroom living or kitchen, my grandfather does drywalling for a living and my daad puts flooring in and im a painter but i dont know how to go about putting all these rooms in the measurements are 1150 but i also have a water tank and furnise on either side of the basement and my grandfather needs access to these so i will also need to put a wall up with a lock door. how much will putting all these in set me back and where would i go to do these cuz ive heard ill have to cut the slab floor to put bathroom in.is this true i need help please im moving in april 1 2010

    Leave a reply
  15. Sacramento Plumber
    July 29, 2010

    Wow, it would take me a long time to finish with this kind of work. Have you done this by yourself? If yes then you’re doing a very very good job! I pretty much can do very basic plumbing works but not on electrical though.

    -Francis

    Leave a reply
  16. Jeff Johnson
    November 9, 2010

    Just thinking about starting my basement and was having all sort off questions. this helps a lot. thanks for all you time putting this on the web.:)

    Leave a reply
  17. Emily Cunningham
    December 27, 2010

    Just moved into a house and would like to install a bathroom in the basement. We would like to start with the toilet. There is the rough plumbing already flush with the floor for sink and toilet. What do we do next?

    Leave a reply
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    November 14, 2011

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  19. Replacement Windows
    January 16, 2015

    Often times, builders will install cheaper and less energy efficient windows to save some money.
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