Every week, I receive emails asking about the bathroom situation for unconventional living spaces. Since there is an overwhelming amount of information online regarding bathroom builds, I’ve scoured the top few layers of the web for tips and links that will help you to build your own bathroom. Many unconventional spaces won’t have a shower or bathroom already set up, but it is surprisingly easy to overcome this daunting obstacle. I’m not a professional builder by any means, but I’ve managed my fair share of warehouse building and projects. This post will at least give you an idea of what you’re in for.
Sure, you can skip having a bathroom altogether, but it may be worth your time to build one. And since anyone can do it, it’s worth at least considering your options.
Now, you can save up some money, steal a bit of cash, or take out a loan to help with expenses. But you’ll want to have a small bit of money to play with here. Nothing extravagant is necessary, but if you’re doing it the ‘by-the-book’ route of permits and contractors, then you’ll want a bit more set aside. Again, this is certainly a project that can be done on your own, or with very little assistance. But any job worth doing once is worth doing right the first time. So don’t get cheap and cut corners. And even if you have little to no experience with plumbing and electrical, well then follow the links and get to learning!
A bathroom can be broken up into three major projects: sink/ shower, toilet, and electrical
Hopefully you have water lines already running into your place. Assuming this, you have a few options for water heaters. You can go fancy and try solar heating, but the most common setups are the large water heater tanks that you find in most homes. These tanks can often be scooped up at salvage yards for cheap. Throughout Europe and Asia, in-line water heaters are quite popular. These are either electrical or gas powered, and both have their benefits. I’d recommend using an in-line (tankless) heater as it takes up less space, are easy to install, and can be more efficient. They are not recommended for family size use, but I’ve found great success with them. Either way, they are easy to install and worthwhile to have. The sink and shower pan are relatively easy to install as well.
Follow these links for more on sinks, showers, and tubs:
For the toilet, you’ll need to have a main floor drain accessible. If you don’t want to build right on top of the drain, then you’ll have some additional headaches to deal with. I had some friends go the route of tapping into an outside sewage line and it ended up being a lot of work. If you have a main drain, use it. If you don’t, you may want to go back to using the neighbors toilet every time nature calls.
Everything about building a bathroom is important, but the electrical components are the most critical. Electricity and water are two things to be safe about, so if you are tempted to hire a professional anywhere, this is a good spot to do so. It is possible to learn how to do it on your own though. Just be sure to have everything GFCI. Electrical is one thing I always ask a friend with experience to help me with, since screwing it up can be the death of me. Fortunately, if you’re going for an unconventional space, you don’t necessarily need a lot of electricity in your bathroom. In my old warehouse, I cut a porthole window into the wall for ventilation. Worked perfectly and looked good too!
One of the best posts I’ve found on plumbing a bathroom can be found here.
Use drywall (sheetrock) specifically for a bathroom. There’s a lot of moisture and that means mold.
Also, be sure to include exhaust fans and vents.
I consider this post a work in progress. If you have any additional helpful links, suggestions, or tips, please leave a comment below and I’ll happily make additions to this post.