Moving Plumbing in a Slab Foundation–not as bad as you might expect!

When we told friends and family about our plans to add a bathroom (and change the layout of the existing bathroom) on the side of our house that is built on a slab foundation, they thought we were nuts. And hey, maybe we are a little nuts. Going into the project, our line of thought was something along the lines of, We’d really like to move that bathroom, if it weren’t for the slab foundation. Maybe we can still move it–is that even possible? No, it’s not possible. Well, maybe if we rented a concrete saw… What the hey, let’s give it a try! What’s the worst that could happen?

And really, the worst that happened was concrete dust everywhere.

The whole project came together really well. I think mostly because John (the tree I fell not so far from), came down to help on Thursday evening, so we got a whole day of work done on Friday. There is an immeasurable benefit to starting work on a day that is actually intended for work, instead of Saturday which is meant for beer drinking.

On Friday morning we took a moment to admire our perfectly cut out “K” shape in the floor which our perfectly shaped new plumbing was to fit neatly into. Then we both realized how naive we must be to think that we should try to fit new plumbing into such a tight space. So I took another trip to the rental shop. I must say the second experience with the concrete saw was much more pleasant. It was much easier watching John do all the work this time around since the saw didn’t keep breaking. We spent about an hour and a half with another rented saw and ended up with a nice, roomy square to work in.

With the new square shape we were able to lay out a very simple drain design, with one straight section with only short branches out to the fixtures. The simplicity had the added benefit of saving us quite a bit of money; elbows and tees for four inch PVC are about $10 each!

The most difficult part about the whole project was placing all of the drain lines exactly where they needed to be within less than an inch. Once the concrete is poured, the room is basically framed around the plumbing, so if your toilet is 2 inches from where you intended you may need to move your wall two inches. I’m proud to say that John and I with the help of Bob (John’s brother from another mother) were able to get all of the lines spot on.

Finishing the job with concrete was surprisingly quick and easy. My arms were a little sore the next day from moving around those 80 pound bags, but otherwise the concrete work was almost pleasant. Or maybe I’m just excited about building something instead of demolishing for a change. Soon we’ll have a second (and third) toilet again!

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