Bath in basement adds $10+K to cost-Do I need bath?

three_daisiesMay 6, 2013

DH and I are trying to overcome sticker shock on a proposal we received to finish our un-plumbed basement. We knew that cutting the concrete to run pipes had to be done for a bathroom, but adding the full bath, ejector pump and having to move the hot water heater AND furnace/reattach everything adds more than $10K to the bottom line. (bath can only go in one location).

I had discussed with my first choice of contractor our budget and thought he'd alert me prior to giving me a detailed proposal that he was going to come in $15-$18K over our outside number (or that our budget was patently unreasonable). But he didn't and so I was bitterly disappointed.

I'm sure the plumbing issues are labor intensive and difficult/costly to fit a bathroom in but we are rethinking the bathroom entirely. Even reducing to a half bath doesn't help us any. Does it decrease the functionality of the basement not to have any bathroom? Is it a deal killer? We're not moving in the foreseeable future but having kids/adults having to come upstairs to use the half bath - or worse -go upstairs to our bedroom level to find a bath - seems like an inconvenient alternative. My DH would have his new home office down there (and work there every day) so yet another reason I was pushing for a bathroom. And for the occasional overnight guest.

I was ready to sign a contract last week if the proposal had come in on/around our budget (or even a little over) - now we feel like we shouldn't do this at all if we can't do it "right." Should I give up on the project or look for a different contractor? Get a consult from a plumber?

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Having a bathroom in a finished basement ranks pretty high up on the priority list, IMO.

If your basement is currently completely unfinished, can you post a drawing, showing where the bathroom is to go, and where the other equipment currently is that must be moved? Perhaps we could suggest layouts that could avoid that. What is it that restricts the bathroom location?

I would definitely get some other bids as well. My sister was looking at adding a basement bathroom and had 3 plumbers in with 3 different ideas of how to do it and associated costs. More info = better.

I would also ask this contractor for ideas on how to lower the cost. He will best know what the cost-drivers are, and if you tell him you won't be able to do the project unless it comes in under $X, he'll be motivated to collaborate.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Thanks, Weedy. While I like the contractor (better than some others I got estimates from), pretty sure that he won't negotiate. Perhaps he's decided he's at a point in his career that his work carries a premium because of experience, and maybe it does. I haven't gone back with my more detailed questions to him yet but I'm pretty sure he won't lower the overall price just because DH and I feel we are over budget. Overall, he's coming close to $53/sq foot for just under 900 sq feet finished. No tile in bath or bath floor, no built-in cabinets, a very simple bar, lower-end carpet, etc.

I'll post the diagram of the basement. It's a puzzle and I can't figure it out what can be changed---but I am not a contractor or architect. Maybe someone has some ideas!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Getting the vent up to the roof is usually a decent amount of pipe and work, but he is really soaking on this.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 4:47PM
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In our neck of the woods that would be cheap for that much work :-( (you're cutting drains into the floor?)

Given your intended use it sounds like a bath would be fairly high up on the "nice to have" list, but life would certainly go on without it. Do you have enough headroom to step the floor up and avoid the concrete cutting?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 1:03PM
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Thanks - yes, it's cutting concrete to put sewer/water pipes in where there are none. One contractor did float the idea of having a raised floor but the headroom was going to be tight. It won't be a crisis now if there wasn't a bath but long term we definitely need one. My husband wants to move his office down there and would be working there every day for the foreseeable future.

I have come to the conclusion that A) there's no where else for the bathroom to go in the basement, and B) $10K is probably reasonable. My parents in the DC area thought the price for the bathroom work was fairly low.

I talked with the contractor about it but he's not going to lower his price to fit our budget. I'm trying to get over it as I'd like to use this contractor. I think he's good and has solved some issues with his proposal & floorplan. What he also did is figure out a way to go forward with the main part of the basement and office, frame in the bath but put the pipes and bathroom at a later date when we feel we can swing it. It is a good option.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 1:56PM
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That would be on the lower/reasonable side here. I know someone who was quoted almost twice that in one of the suburbs here, as well.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I think ours ran around $6,000 for a half bath and that even included moving a stack! My finishes were nothing special though -- small cabinet for home depot, and vinyl sheet flooring remnant. I didn't care about a shower -- I already have two in the house and don't need another one to clean (plus, there is no bedroom down there).

I wanted to skip the bathroom (just walk up the stairs and there is a half bath right there). My DH insisted on it and now I am glad we did it.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 8:38AM
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We just finished our basement ourselves... aprox 1000 square feet. I didn't even think about adding a bathroom and glad we didn't. It's a waste of space IMO. It takes 6 seconds to walk from the basement to the first floor bath.

In our basement we have a game room, a movie room, my office, a trophy room. The trophy room is attached to my office via double French doors. So technically I see the trophy room is part of my office. I couldn't see giving up any one of those 3 rooms for a bathroom that I would probably use 5 minutes a week.

I use my office for an hour a day and the family room we use to watch a movie or two during the week. Most days we don't use the family room at all, others we use it for about two hours. I just use the first floor bath before I go into the basement... I've never had to come up from the basement to use the bath because I'm not down there long enough. For me, it would have been a waste of money.

It all comes down to you, what you want, and how much space you have to work with. You may value the added bathroom more than we would have. If we had a larger basement, more cash I probably would have put one in. But I use all the rooms I finished and it wouldn't make since for me to make one of those rooms smaller for something I would have rarely used.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Have you considered a Saniflo unit? It would save you from cutting the floor and if you were only doing a half bath then there would be no need to raise the floor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Saniflo

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Hi Three Daisies

We completed a project much like you describe about one year ago. The job involved cutting through the concrete floor to hook into sewer lines and moving both the hot water heater and the sewer pipe from the powder room on the main floor. We purchased a toilet and small vanity from Home Depot and our plumber (who did ALL of the work) got us an inexpensive shower stall. Our total bill was just short of $6000.

This is not a fancy bathroom, the pipes are exposed and it is in a room that also holds my laundry area. There IS a door that locks! It ranks as one of the best things we have done.

There is a bedroom and living area on the same level. When the kids/grandkids stay with us this is where they "live." When our son comes home and brings friends along they all stay downstairs. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have the other bathroom to ourselves while everyone else uses the new area downstairs.

Could we have lived with having guests use the only other full bath? Yes, we did it for years. But this is a million times better. They have privacy and so do we. And we feel that it has improved the value of our home, even though it is "rustic."

I would think about getting a couple of other estimates and look at where you might save a bit of money. Perhaps you could shave off a thousand or two and that would make it seem more realistic for you. I know that we would not have done it if it would have been $10,000. But for 6,000 we were willing to bite the bullet.

Good luck with your decision, it is always hard to pull the trigger on major expenditures .

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:34AM
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