How To Add A Downstairs Bathroom


If you live in a house with two or more people and only one bathroom, you will no doubt be longing to add a second downstairs bathroom.  The arguments over people taking too long in the bathroom and everyone needing to use it at once are common in single bathroom homes so it’s a sensible option but what rules apply to adding a downstairs bathroom?

Building Regulations

Bathroom Renovation

Currently, it is generally not required that you get planning permission to add a bathroom to the downstairs of your home, as long as you are not extending the property to do so or using part of a new extension for the bathroom.  This might be different if you live in a conservation area and definitely if the property is listed.  You can check with your local council to be sure that you can do the work without any planning permission required.

Building regulations, on the other hand, are there to ensure that any work that is done is done correctly and to the legal standards so they will apply to the addition of a downstairs bathroom or toilet.  You need to get a building control completion certificate for the work you have had done, otherwise, you could face problems later if you come to sell your home.

The regulations that might apply can be different in every case so speaking to the local council is your best bet.  While a neighbour may have done the same thing five years ago without any problems, don’t assume that the rules are still the same and just plough ahead with the project.

Rules That Might Apply

One of the main issues with a downstairs bathroom can be that the room isn’t fully accessible for people in wheelchairs, regardless if anyone in your home uses one or not.  This means the door frame must be large enough for a wheelchair to access and there needs to be enough room for a wheelchair to manoeuvre while in the space.

At one time, people thought you could convert a downstairs cupboard into a toilet but the regulations mean this often isn’t the case as there isn’t enough space.  You need to ensure the toilet has room for handwashing facilities as well as the toilet.  There also used to be rules about toilets opening into living rooms and kitchens but these have been relaxed in recent years.

From A Plumbing Perspective

You definitely need to have an expert plumber look at the plans you are considering when it comes to adding that downstairs bathroom.  Regulations specify drainage and ventilation matters and the plumber is the best person to look at these and offer advice. 

For example, you need to have a window, an extractor fan or even both in the bathroom area.  You also need to see where the drainage pipes will go to connect the new toilet to the existing system.  The pipes need to be able to cope with the demand of the increased number of toilets too.

While not completely straightforward, adding a downstairs toilet is easier than it used to be.  By using expert plumbers and builders to do the work, you will ensure that your home has the extra facilities and that everything is within the rules.

Declan Small is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbmaster, plumbing merchants based in Northern Ireland.

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