Whether it's done to keep the house cleaner when working outside or to provide additional livable space in the garage, adding a bathroom to the garage can have great benefits. But because of the garage design, it may seem like a time-consuming and expensive project. The good news is that there are a few ways to reduce both effort and money involved. Here are the three steps to building a garage bath with less time and expense.
Locate It Well
Determining the best place to put your new bathroom is the first step toward making the project much easier and cheaper. Ideally, the closer you can place your bathroom to the existing water pipes, the less it will cost to extend them. If you're unfamiliar with the layout of your piping, you may be able to consult records at the local Office of the Building Inspector or an experienced architect or plumber for assistance.
Once you know the cheapest place to put the bath, create a mock layout for your space. A basic bathroom may require as little as three feet by six feet, depending on the way you place the fixtures. Keep in mind that the toilet and shower must have minimum clearance space around them -- usually between fifteen and twenty-four inches from nearby walls. Don't get overly ambitious about this bathroom, keep it modest and manageable.
Because most garages are on a concrete slab, it may be expensive and difficult to cut into the pad in order to place drain pipes. The less expensive alternative is to raise the shower and toilet onto a short platform -- no more than a few inches -- and run the drain pipes under the platform to the outside wall. Once outside, divert the pipes underground at a slope (no less than 1/4" per foot) and attach them to the sewer line.
If you can't maintain this slope, you could consider what's known as a macerating toilet system. This system uses a pump to flush water upward to the main plumbing system and can be tied into the toilet, sink and shower, if needed.
Bring in the Water
Piping water into the garage may require cutting into the slab, especially if you live in a cold climate where outside pipes can freeze. A 3/4" pipe is usually sufficient to provide steady flow to the garage bathroom. But instead of installing both hot and cold water, save yourself some time and cost by simply adding a small water heater near the bathroom to heat water for the sink and shower.
If you're unsure about how to extend the plumbing or install the water heater, it may be best to work with a qualified plumber, such as All Clear, on that part of the project. By understanding what you can do yourself and what may be beyond your skill level, you will ensure a good quality result and less frustration while still saving money. Then you can sit back and enjoy your new bathroom for years to come.