Creators Syndicate

By James Dulley

Creators Syndicate


Dear James: We could use an additional bathroom in our house. Installing a small lavatory in a closet off the dining room might work. Are there any suggestion for designing a small one? — Ronald T.

Dear Ronald: This is a significant remodeling project which will probably take quite a few weekends to complete. Once the toilet and sink in your new half bath are operational, you can take your time completing the final finishing style touches.

The first item to consider is if you actually have adequate space to add a half bath. As a minimum, you will need a width of 30 inches for a standard size toilet. If your space is really tight, select a toilet with a round bowl design instead of an elongated one to save a few inches depth.

Two feet of open clearance in front of a toilet is a minimum. Although you may design your half bath with the sink off to the side, generally the sink is positioned directly in front of the toilet. This makes the plumbing layout simpler and allows you to build a plain rectangular room. Unless you are experienced with installing drywall, the fewer the corners, the better.

Installing a pedestal-style sink is your best choice for a cramped half bath and they are very popular today. The small base on a pedestal sink provides more leg clearance from the toilet and gives a tiny half bath a more open feel. You should be able to find a small one, about 14 inches deep, at your local home center store.

Once you have your sink and toilet selected, layout their locations on the floor where your half bath will be located. Make sure there are no obstructions beneath them in the floor or below it where you will have to run the plumbing. Also check the path for the cold and hot water pipes and the drain to and from the half bath.

Make a sketch to scale of where everything will be located including the plumbing, electrical outlets and the walls. Show this to your local building and plumbing inspectors to be certain it meets your building codes. They can also give you some tips for your project. Apply for a building permit so the local inspectors will come and check your work as you are progressing on your project.

Frame in the walls with standard 2×4 lumber, but don’t finish them with drywall at this point. You will have to add support bracing for the pedestal sink and towel bars inside of the walls. You will also have easier access to everything without any drywall installed on the walls.

When you are planning your plumbing, don’t forget that a drain will need a vent. Consider where you will locate the plumbing vent and how you will route it up through the roof. Use a three-inch drain to connect the toilet to a vertical soil stack. This is usually easier than attaching it to a horizontal drain.

One common mistake is screwing the toilet drain flange directly to the sub-flooring and then gluing the pipe to it. The flange must be raised so it will be level with the finished floor. This requires you first know the thickness of the tile you plan to install on the floor.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit