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Basement Bathroom Design

Tired of pausing your movie to run upstairs to the bathroom? Do the kids frequently race to the main level washroom from the basement play area? Do guests need to trudge up the steps in the middle of the night to use the facilities? Having a bathroom in your basement increases convenience, improves functionality, makes the basement feel like the upper level and adds value to your home. However, there are many unique considerations when planning a basement bathroom. It’s a complicated project! To ensure you stay on target and within your budget, spend time looking at your options and creating a plan. 

  • Zoning and permits: Contact your local building authority to learn the zoning ordinances and deed restrictions. Some cities require backwater valves to ensure sewage flow cannot reverse.
  • Full or half bath: Do you want a full bathroom with a bathtub or shower or would you be content with a half-bath containing only a toilet and sink? Either way, a high-power ventilation fan is a good idea for dealing with moisture. Consider how you will heat the bathroom and pay attention to water proofing as basements are often cool and damp.
  • Water and sewer Lines: Many home-owners run water and sewer lines to a corner of the basement when constructing their home. Check to see if roughed-in pipes are present in your basement as this will make your renovation quicker and easier. If you need to add plumbing pipes (involves jackhammering concrete), the price and complexity of your bathroom renovation will increase significantly. 
  • Drainage: If sewer lines and drain pipes are present, have a professional examine the slope to determine if they are deep enough for your basement plumbing to rely on gravity. If the answer is yes, adding your bathroom will be simple. If the answer is no, you may need to remove part of your basement floor and excavate the ground below or install an up-flush toilet or sewage-ejector system (see below). 
  • Basement toilet options: Depending on the piping present or the pipes you install, there are several choices of toilets for a basement bathroom.
    • Pressure-assisted toilets: Even deep basement lines with good slopes aren’t always enough to clear sewage in a basement bathroom. Pressure-assisted toilets use air pressure to force waste through the pipes helping to prevent clogs.
    • Upflushing toilets are perfect for homeowners wary of breaking up a basement floor. They’re self-contained, sit on the floor and are connected to lines that run through the wall and hook directly into existing sewer pipes. Some models include a macerating function that grinds waste to prevent clogging. 
    • Sewage ejector systems are tank and pump systems designed to temporarily hold waste then push the sewage up to the sewer or septic tank. Aboveground (freestanding) models sit on top of the tank and pump unit thus require no excavation. Belowground models include a tank and pump that are located in a hole below your basement floor allowing the use of gravity but requiring excavation.  
    • Composting toilets are a good option when it’s difficult to tap into existing sewer lines. They are eco-friendly, require little water and turn waste into useable compost. However, they require adequate outside ventilation.  
  • Bathtub and shower installation carries some of the same concerns as toilet installation. You may need to break up the concrete and excavate. Alternately, you can connect your shower/tub to an up-flush toilet or sewage ejector system (see above).  

To renovate your basement bathroom as quickly, conveniently and affordably as possible, use the skills of a professional contractor who specializes in basement renovation. He will have the experience, knowledge and skill to help you avoid pitfalls and create the basement bathroom you desire. If you are ready to add a bathroom to your basement, call the Calgary basement experts, Econo Basements at (403) 768-0256 or email at