I own a 54 year old house in Los angeles and I want to convert my 1/2
bath to a
3/4 bath by adding an upright shower. The room is "L" shaped
with a toilet at
one end of the "L" and a sink at the other. The idea
is to make the room square
by demo'ing the closet that makes the room
"L" shaped. I have very little
experience but a lot of guts. I have a
professional who will hang the drywall
after I am done installing the
shower. My biggest concern is tapping into the
existing plumbing. My
plumbing questions are: What supplies will I need? How
this project? How do I do it?
The biggest problem is the plumbing and base for the shower. Connecting
the water supply to the faucet isn't bad, but you'll need a drain in
the floor over to the existing pipes. That will be either the sink or
the toilet run. If you have a wooden floor, things are easier. A
concrete floor will require a small jackhammer.
Call a couple of local plumbers for estimates. Tell them you're trying
to decide whether you can afford the job, and that you just want rough
numbers--maybe to the nearest $500. They might be willing to give you
that kind of number over the phone.
This will be a fun job after you get the plumbing squared away.
Go down to your local library and spend the next two weeks reading
every DIY plumbing they have. Make a rough sketch of your project and
get an estimate from a reliable plumbing contractor. With your new
knowledge you will be able to understand that determination is 10% and
skill is 90% of what you need done. Spend some of the time you would
have used for the project on rounding up financing, if you need it, to
pay the professionals. Use the rest of the time observing and learning
from the pros as they work. IMHO this will be the best use of your
resources to get a good job done. Good luck.
re: Do you have underneath access to do the drains, or is it on a
slab? This is crucial!!!
The answer to that question might be crucial(!!!) but I suspect for
reasons other than you were thinking. I assume that you mean that
"underneath access" is easier, but that might not be the case.
It might be easier if there is access underneath the bathroom, but if
there are structural issues to deal with (such as cutting joists) to
connect the drains, then it might be better if you're dealing with a
An electric jackhammer will bust up a slab floor pretty easily,
allowing access to the drain system. Once the existing pipes are
exposed, there is no issues with any framing to deal with.
I've replaced a shower (moving the drain) and added a sink on a slab
floor and I've remodeled a second story bathroom, replacing the
galvanized drains with PVC. While both of these were done from above
the floor, in some ways the slab job was easier than the second floor
job because I did not have to deal with any framing under the floor.
no matter what add a extra 25% into the budget for unknowns and might
might remove some inside the closet walls to see whats in there.
if you opt to not do the job walls inside closet dont matter much when
Yes, that was kind of what I was thinking. Without a decent amount
of experience, it's probably better to get a pro to do this.
Obvious considerations are getting it done right, to code, and without
future leaks and problems.
For example, suppose you DIY and 5 years later, when you decide to
sell the place, a home inspection reveals that it has leaks, was done
incorrectly, etc? At that point to correct it might mean ripping
half of it apart and starting all over.
I am currently constructing a full bathroom. There is a LOT to
consider and it takes a long time to complete. An experienced plumber
would have been done with it 2 months ago, but I am in no rush to
complete it. There is also some mis-information given to make it more
confusing at times. You still want to do it yourself, borrow some
library books on plumbing, preferable books that are less than 5 years
old. Get the Los Angeles plumbing code--most likely at the library
reference section. Plumbing code books are not always an easy read,
but you will need to follow it.
Your half-bath is plumbed for only two fixtures and therefore probably
only has 1/2" supply lines.
These will have to be replumbed from the nearest 3/4" hot and cold
supply lines with 3/4" to the bathroom to add a shower.
A shower will require a 2" trap and drain, vented after the trap to the
main drain/waste/vent stack. If the half-bath doesn't have an exhaust
vent, you also should add one. Showers put out a tremendous amount of
The expense and difficulty of this depends on your type of pipes
(supply and drain), how much wall and/or ceiling demolition you need to
do the plumbing, the remodeling that is necessary, and the shower unit
that you choose. Adding a shower bath is a good investment, as
bathrooms and kitchens have the highest return whenever the house is
Before you do anything, contact your Building Inspection Department for
local codes, permit and inspection requirements. Do NOT do this without
You may be required to use a licensed plumber and maybe a licensed
electrican because you may well run into electrical lines in the walls
or have to add an exhaust vent. Depends on local codes. You can do all
demolition yourself. If allowed, you can do all of the other work, and
we'll be glad to help you with it.
re: 1/2" vs. 3/4" pipes. ("These will have to be replumbed from the
nearest 3/4" hot and cold supply lines with 3/4" to the bathroom to
add a shower.")
I too live in a fifty-something YO house, although it's on the other
side of the country. After the meter, the entire house is plumbed with
1/2" copper. I suspect the nearest 3/4" pipe is in a tract a few
miles away. ;-)
I added a sink to a basement bathroom that originally had a toilet and
shower, using the existing 1/2" pipes and thing have been fine for
many, many years.
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