Complicated Plumbing for Shower and Laundry Room

Written by Beckie Farrant
Updated June 14, 2016
before and after shower remodel

Blogger Beckie Farrant describes obstacles she overcame with plumbing her shower remodel.

“We’ll take the oversized guest bath and split it into a smaller bathroom and a laundry room.” Sounded simple enough. I had no idea it would stretch my DIY skills and teach me so much about the remodeling process. 

The original bathroom included a 48-inch shower pan and a huge soaker tub — nice in a master bathroom but really underutilized in a guest bathroom. In the two years we’ve lived in this house, the tub has never been used. Not once. Most guests would rather visit with us than soak in the tub, which I think is a good sign (giggle).

Challenges

According to a recent issue of HGTV Magazine, one of the features that homebuyers look for is a laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. I knew it would be a significant time and cost factor to create this in our house, but I also knew it would add value to my home. And I was obviously motivated by the idea of not dragging clothes up and down two flights of stairs. 

Luckily, since the room contained previous plumbing for a bathroom, it included all of the major components. We didn't need to create new plumbing by pulling new pipes up from the basement, which would have significantly added to the remodeling costs. Rather, we tapped into the existing plumbing and moved it around. We also needed to move the vanity and add a line for the washing machine. So we worked with a maze of pipes that needed to fit into that space.

before and after shower remodel

I possess limited DIY skills when it comes to plumbing, and I understood this from the beginning. This job required moving plumbing as well as adding some new plumbing to accommodate the new washer and dryer along with the shower and sink.

Plumbing isn't a quick job. It involves a lot of trial and error, turning on the water, making sure there is no leak, finding a leak, turning off the water and fixing it again. So this process took a lot longer than I wanted it to take. 

Solutions

Rerouting the plumbing myself involved more risk than I was willing to take. Plumbing, if done incorrectly, can cause thousands of dollars of damage. Also, since the project was on the third floor of my house, the risk was even greater. Spring a leak on the top floor and there’s a lot of house underneath to damage!  

Of course, it’s hard to hire someone else and know the work is out of your control. Hiring a plumber took at least three weeks of labor — not all at once. Scheduling and process obstacles dragged it out longer that I wanted. 

Know when you can do it and when it's wiser to hire an expert. When planning a larger remodel, I try to outline everything I can tackle. This saves money and means I can learn a new skill or two. However, I only take on projects that I can fix if I mess up.

before and after shower remodel

Hiring the plumber was the largest part of my budget for this bathroom remodel. But, hiring the plumber also meant guaranteed work and a job done right.  

Alternatives

Not many alternatives exist for moving your laundry room upstairs. It’s a commitment and you either have the plumbing to do it, or you don’t do it.

One alternative does exist though — the laundry chute. Install an opening in a wall of the bathroom and attach a metal duct. Find a tutorial online to do this yourself. Before you start, check your local building codes. Chutes aren’t allowed in certain houses because of fire hazard.

Hiring out the work isn’t all or nothing. Whenever you choose to hire out a job, always ask the contractor what you can do to save money. You can save hundreds by shopping for all of the materials and doing some light demolition work yourself. 

I told my plumber upfront that I wasn't afraid to get my hands dirty and help him along the way. So I always cleaned up after him, ran to the hardware store for necessary supplies, and I saved myself a few hundred dollars. That may not seem like a lot when it comes to a bathroom remodel, but it goes a long way in adding accessories.

Beckie Farrant writes the blog Infarrantly Creative where she is a fence straddler between huge home decor projects and little creative ideas. She is a sassy red head, color lover and chocolate addict. You can connect with her on Instagram @infarrantlycreative.