The Ultimate Guide on How to Build a Bathroom from Scratch

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Are you ready to turn your home into a Portland oasis? Building a bathtub or toilet from scratch is the ultimate way for homeowners to create their dream space. Whether you're envisioning luxurious bedrooms or adding a basement bathroom for convenience, this project holds incredible potential.

By starting from scratch, you have the freedom to design every aspect of your new bathroom, including the bathtub, toilet, bedrooms, and faucet. Imagine entering a shower in your exquisitely finished home that has sleek glass shower doors surrounding it. The possibilities are endless!

So why wait? Let's dive into the essential steps of building a bathroom from scratch and embark on this exciting journey toward transforming your home into something truly extraordinary. Start by installing the shower door, sink, basement, and vanity cabinet.

Step-by-Step Guide: Building a Bathroom from Scratch

Building a bathroom from scratch can be an exciting and rewarding project for homeowners. Whether you're adding a new bathroom to your home or starting from scratch in a newly constructed basement, following a detailed guide will ensure seamless shower installations.

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know, from obtaining the necessary permits and inspections to planning, designing, and final installation.

Necessary Permits

Before diving into the construction process of building a bathroom with a shower, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the permits and inspections required. Each jurisdiction may have specific regulations for the cost and access to finished homes, so it's essential to research and comply with local building codes.

Contact your local permit office to determine the necessary paperwork and fees involved in building a bathroom with a shower.


During the construction phase of your bathroom additions or basement bathroom, various inspections will be required.

These inspections include plumbing rough-in inspections, electrical inspections for wiring and lighting fixtures, framing inspections for walls and ceilings, as well as final inspections before the completion of your finished home.

Ensure that each stage, including the primary bathroom, meets the required standards before proceeding further.

Planning and Design

Careful planning is vital when building a bathroom from scratch, especially if adding a shower to your finished basement. Start by determining the layout that best suits your needs while considering any existing plumbing or structural limitations.

Sketch out different floor plans to visualize how each element will fit together and ensure the space is functional for your daily routine and work.

Selecting Fixtures and Bathroom Additions

Next comes selecting fixtures for your bathroom additions, such as toilets, sinks, showers, or bathtubs, that align with your style preferences and budget. Consider factors like water efficiency, durability, and ease of maintenance during this decision-making process for your dream bathroom.

Create a Detailed Material List

Once you have finalized the layout for your bathroom addition and chosen fixtures for your primary bathroom or downstairs bathroom, it's time to create a detailed material list.

This list should include items such as tiles for flooring and walls, plumbing materials (pipes, valves), lighting fixtures, cabinetry options if applicable (vanity or storage), and paint colors or wallpaper patterns if desired. Additionally, don't forget to consider the cost of these materials.


With all the necessary permits obtained and design decisions made, it's time to start the installation process. Follow these steps to ensure a successful bathroom build while keeping the cost in check and making any necessary additions.

  1. Rough-In: Begin by roughing in the plumbing and electrical systems for your bathroom addition, primary bathroom, downstairs bathroom, or half bath, ensuring they are correctly positioned according to your design plan.
  2. Framing: Install framing for walls, ceilings, and any built-in features like shower niches or storage cabinets in a bathroom addition. This is an important step in creating the primary bathroom and can impact the overall cost of the project.
  3. Install plumbing fixtures such as sinks, toilets, showers, or bathtubs for the bathroom addition and electrical fixtures like lighting and outlets in the primary bathroom. Consider the cost of these plumbing and electrical fixtures.
  4. Wall Finishes: Apply wall finishes such as tiles or paint to give your bathroom its desired look while keeping the cost in mind.
  5. Bathroom Addition: Lay down the flooring material of your choice for your bathroom addition, ensuring proper waterproofing measures are taken if necessary. Consider the cost of the flooring material.
  6. Bathroom Addition: Install any cabinetry or countertops you have chosen for storage and functionality. Calculate the cost.
  7. Final Touches: Complete the bath installation by adding accessories like mirrors, towel bars, toilet paper holders, and shower curtains. Enhance the functionality and cost of your bath with these essential additions.

Cost Factors: Adding a Bathroom

Adding a new bathroom to your home can be an exciting project, but it's important to understand the various cost factors involved. From materials and fixtures to labor expenses, these factors can greatly impact the overall cost of your bathroom addition.

To ensure you budget effectively for your project, let's dive into some key considerations.


One of the main factors that will influence the cost of building a bathroom is the choice of materials. The type and quality of materials you select can significantly affect both the aesthetic appeal and price tag of your project.

For example, opting for high-end tiles or custom cabinetry may increase costs compared to more affordable alternatives. It's essential to strike a balance between quality and budget when making material choices.


Another crucial factor in determining the overall cost is the selection of fixtures for your new bathroom. Fixtures include items such as sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and faucets. The range of options available can vary widely in terms of style, functionality, and price point.

While luxurious fixtures may elevate the look and feel of your bathroom, they often come with higher price tags. Consider your needs and preferences when selecting fixtures that fit within your budget.

Labor Expenses

The cost of labor is another significant factor when adding a bathroom to your home. Labor expenses encompass hiring professionals such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and general contractors who will handle different aspects of construction.

The complexity and duration of the project will impact labor costs. Local factors like labor rates in Portland, Oregon (or Portland, OR) can also influence pricing.

Budgeting Effectively

To ensure you stay within budget during your bathroom addition project, effective planning is essential. Start by setting a realistic total cost goal based on research into average costs for similar projects in Portland or other relevant areas.

Break down this total into specific categories such as materials, fixtures, and labor. Allocate funds accordingly, leaving room for unexpected expenses that may arise during construction. It's crucial to be flexible but disciplined with your budgeting.

Flooring Installation

One important aspect that often gets overlooked is the flooring in a bathroom. Choosing the right flooring material is crucial for creating a functional and visually appealing bath space. Additionally, it is important to consider the cost of the flooring when making your decision.

Exploring Flooring Options

Before diving into the installation process, it's essential to consider the various flooring options available for your bathroom in Portland, Oregon. Here are some popular choices that can help you save money.

  • Ceramic Tile: Known for its durability and water resistance, ceramic tile is an excellent option for bathrooms due to its cost-effectiveness. It comes in various colors, patterns, and sizes, allowing you to create a unique look without breaking the bank.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl flooring offers versatility and affordability. It is resistant to moisture and easy to clean.
  • Laminate: While laminate may not be as water-resistant as other options, it can still be used in bathrooms with proper precautions. It provides a budget-friendly alternative that mimics the look of hardwood or stone.
  • Porcelain Tile: Similar to ceramic tile but denser and less porous, porcelain tile offers enhanced durability and stain resistance.

The Installation Process

Installing bathroom flooring requires careful planning and attention to detail due to the moisture-prone nature of these areas. Here's an overview of the installation process:

  1. Prepare the existing space: Remove any existing floor coverings, such as tiles or carpeting. Ensure that the subfloor is clean, dry, level, and free from any damage.
  2. Install insulation: To prevent heat loss and minimize noise transmission between floors, consider adding insulation beneath your new bathroom floor.
  3. Lay down underlayment: Depending on your chosen flooring material, you may need to install an underlayment layer over the subfloor before installing the actual floor.
  4. Start laying tiles or planks: Begin installing the flooring material from one corner of the room, working your way across. Use spacers to maintain consistent spacing between tiles or planks.
  5. Cut tiles or planks as needed. Measure and cut tiles or planks to fit around fixtures, corners, and edges using a tile cutter or saw.
  6. Apply grout or adhesive: Once the flooring is in place, apply grout between tiles or use adhesive for other types of flooring materials.
  7. Finish with necessary fixtures: Install baseboards and any other necessary fixtures to complete the look.

Choosing Durable and Stylish Flooring Materials

When selecting bathroom flooring materials, it's crucial to consider both durability and style. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Opt for water-resistant materials that can withstand moisture without warping or deteriorating.
  • Look for textured surfaces that provide slip resistance, especially in areas prone to getting wet.
  • Consider maintenance requirements: choose the flooring that is easy to clean and maintain over time.
  • Think about the overall aesthetic of your bathroom and select a flooring material that complements your desired style.

By considering these factors, you can find a balance between functionality and aesthetics when building your bathroom in Portland, Oregon.

Vanity and Cabinet Installation

Are you looking to build a bathroom that not only meets your functional needs but also adds a touch of style to your home? One essential aspect of bathroom construction is the installation of vanities and cabinets.

Selecting the Perfect Vanity and Cabinets

In Oregon (or anywhere else), there are several factors to consider. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Size: Measure your bathroom space carefully before purchasing a vanity or cabinet. Consider both width and depth, ensuring that it fits comfortably without obstructing movement.
  2. Style: Decide on the overall style you want for your bathroom. Whether you prefer a modern look or something more traditional, there are countless options available in Portland.
  3. Material: Choose durable materials that can withstand the moisture-rich environment of a bathroom. Common choices include wood, laminate, or even metal.
  4. Storage Needs: Assess your storage requirements before selecting a vanity or cabinet design. Determine whether you need additional shelves, drawers, or compartments.

Installation Methods and Plumbing Considerations

Once you have chosen the perfect vanity cabinet for your bathroom, it's time to focus on its installation. Here are some key points to keep in mind:


Before starting the installation process, ensure that all necessary tools and materials are readily available. This may include screws, brackets, silicone adhesive, leveling tools, and plumbing connectors.

Mounting Options

Depending on the type of vanity cabinet chosen (freestanding or wall-mounted), different mounting methods will be required. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully during this step.

Plumbing Connections

Proper plumbing connections are crucial for the functionality of your vanity and cabinet. Ensure that water supply lines and drainage pipes are properly connected to avoid leaks or other plumbing issues.

Design Ideas to Enhance Functionality and Aesthetics

Now that your vanity and cabinets are installed, it's time to add those finishing touches that will elevate your bathroom's overall appeal. Consider these design ideas:

  1. Lighting: Install adequate lighting above or around the vanity area to ensure proper illumination for grooming tasks.
  2. Organization Accessories: Incorporate accessories such as racks, dividers, or pull-out trays within the cabinets to optimize storage space and keep everything organized.
  3. Mirror Selection: Choose a mirror that complements the style of your vanity and enhances both functionality and aesthetics.
  4. Color Palette: Select a color scheme that creates a cohesive look throughout the bathroom, tying together the vanity, cabinets, walls, and flooring.

Lighting Up Your Bathroom

Understanding the importance of proper lighting in creating an inviting bathroom atmosphere is essential when you want to build your dream bathroom. The right lighting can transform a dull and dim space into a cozy sanctuary where you can relax and unwind.

So, let's explore different lighting options that will brighten up your bathroom and make it truly shine.

Overhead Lights, Sconces, and LED Strips

There are several choices to consider.

Overhead lights provide general illumination, ensuring the entire room is well-lit. Sconces on either side of the mirror offer task lighting, perfect for applying makeup or shaving. LED strips can be installed under cabinets or along the edges of mirrors, adding a touch of modernity while providing soft ambient light.

Maximize Natural Lighting

Maximizing natural light in your bathroom is another important aspect to consider. You want to let in as much daylight as possible while maintaining privacy.

One option is to install frosted or textured glass windows that allow natural light to filter through without compromising your solitude. Using sheer curtains or blinds can help control the amount of light coming in while still preserving privacy.

Having a well-lit downstairs bathroom becomes even more crucial in Portland, Oregon, where rain showers are common. A brightly lit room creates an inviting atmosphere and helps combat the gloomy weather outside.

Consider incorporating large windows or skylights to harness natural light during the day.

Think about the Type of Fixtures You Choose

To enhance your bathroom's overall aesthetic appeal, think about the type of fixtures you choose for lighting. Modern pendant lights above the bathtub create an elegant focal point and add a touch of sophistication to the space.

For those who prefer a more traditional look, wall-mounted sconces with vintage-inspired designs can add warmth and charm.

Hiring professional plumbers or electricians who specialize in these areas is always recommended. They have the expertise needed to ensure everything is done safely and according to code. It's better to leave the electrical work in capable hands.

The Importance of Paint and Lighting Complements

Lastly, don't forget about the importance of paint color in relation to lighting. Lighter shades on the walls and ceiling can help reflect and amplify your bathroom's natural or artificial light, making it appear brighter and more spacious.

Consider using pale blues, soft greens, or creamy whites to create a soothing ambiance.

Comparing Costs: Building vs. Adding a Bathroom

Determining Cost-Effectiveness

Adding a new bathroom is often a top consideration. However, before diving into this project, it's essential to determine whether building or adding a bathroom is more cost-effective for your needs. Evaluating the financial aspects of each option will help you make an informed decision.

Adding a Bathroom

Adding a bathroom involves utilizing existing space within your home. This option can be less expensive compared to building an entirely new bathroom from scratch. In Portland, Oregon (or Portland, OR), where property prices are soaring, maximizing the use of available space can be beneficial.

By converting an underutilized area, such as a closet or storage room, into a bathroom, you can save on construction costs and potentially increase the value of your home.

Constructing a New Bathroom

On the other hand, building a brand-new bathroom allows you more flexibility in terms of design and layout. If you have ample space available or want specific features that cannot be accommodated by repurposing an existing area, constructing a new bathroom may be the better choice.

While this option might involve higher upfront costs due to plumbing and construction expenses, it offers greater customization possibilities tailored exactly to your preferences.

Potential Savings and Expenses

In addition to considering the initial costs associated with both options, it's crucial to evaluate potential savings and expenses over time.

When adding a bathroom in Portland (or any other location), take into account factors like plumbing connections and electrical wiring that might require adjustments or upgrades. These additional expenses should be factored into your budget.

Building a new bathroom also entails long-term considerations such as maintenance and utility costs. Modern fixtures and energy-efficient features can help reduce water consumption and lower monthly bills in the future.

If you plan on selling your property in the future, having a well-designed bathroom can significantly increase its market value.

Long-Term Value for Your Investment

When deciding whether to build or add a bathroom, it's essential to assess the long-term value of your investment.

How does it impact your lifestyle?

Consider how each option may impact your lifestyle and the potential return on investment (ROI) when selling your home.

Adding a bathroom can enhance convenience and functionality, especially if you have a growing family or frequently host guests. It provides an immediate benefit for your household while potentially increasing the appeal of your property to potential buyers in the future.

On the other hand, building a new bathroom offers greater customization and personalization possibilities. This can make your home stand out from others in the market and potentially attract higher offers when it's time to sell.

A thoughtfully designed bathroom with modern features can create a lasting impression on prospective buyers, giving you an edge in terms of ROI.

How long does it take to design and build a bathroom from scratch in Portland, OR?

Finding out the average timeline for designing and constructing a new bathroom in the Portland, Oregon, area is crucial for anyone planning such a project. Several factors can affect the duration of the project, so understanding these variables is essential.

Proper planning plays a significant role in ensuring that the construction process proceeds smoothly and efficiently, leading to timely completion.

Average Timeline for Designing and Constructing

Designing and building a bathroom from scratch typically takes around four to six weeks in Portland, OR. This timeframe includes both the design phase and the actual construction process. However, it's important to note that each project is unique, and timelines may vary depending on several factors.

Factors Affecting Project Duration

Several factors can influence how long it takes to complete a bathroom construction project:

  1. Size of the Bathroom: The size of your desired bathroom affects the overall timeline. Larger bathrooms generally require more time for both design and construction.
  2. The Complexity of Design: Intricate designs with custom features or unique layouts may prolong the timeline as additional planning and execution are involved.
  3. Permits and Approvals: Obtaining necessary permits from local authorities can add time to your project's schedule.
  4. Material Selection: If you opt for specialized materials or fixtures that are not readily available, it may take longer to source them.
  5. Contractor Availability: The availability of contractors can impact project timelines as they juggle multiple projects simultaneously.
  6. Unforeseen Issues: Unexpected problems like structural issues or plumbing complications can cause delays during construction.
  7. Weather Conditions: Inclement weather conditions could potentially disrupt outdoor work or the transportation of materials, resulting in delays.

Hiring Experts for a Successful Build

Building a bathroom is no small task. It requires careful planning, precise execution, and attention to detail. While some homeowners may consider taking on the project themselves, hiring experts can make all the difference in ensuring a successful build.

Discover the Benefits of Hiring Professionals

Enlisting the help of experts can save you time, money, and headaches down the line. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Design expertise: Professionals have an eye for design and can help you create a functional and aesthetically pleasing bathroom that fits your needs and style preferences.
  2. Permit assistance: Obtaining permits can be a complex process. Experts are well-versed in local regulations and can guide you through the necessary paperwork, ensuring your project meets all legal requirements.
  3. Code compliance: Building codes exist to ensure safety and structural integrity. Professionals understand these codes inside out and will ensure that your bathroom construction adheres to them.
  4. Quality workmanship: Hiring experts guarantees high-quality workmanship as they possess the skills and experience necessary to deliver exceptional results.

Learn How eExperts Can Assist with Various Aspects of Your Project

Experts offer a range of services that go beyond just physical labor. Here's how they can contribute to every stage of your bathroom build:

  1. Design phase: A professional designer will work closely with you to understand your vision, create detailed plans, choose materials, and recommend fixtures that align with your budget.
  2. Construction phase: Contractors handle everything from demolition to finishing work. They coordinate subcontractors (plumbers, electricians) if needed while overseeing each step of the build process.
  3. Project management: Experts take care of scheduling tasks, ordering materials, and ensuring the project stays on track. This allows you to focus on other aspects of your life without the stress of managing the construction yourself.

Find Tips on Selecting Reliable Contractors or Designers

Choosing the right experts for your bathroom build is crucial for a successful outcome. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:


Look for professionals who specialize in bathroom construction in your area, such as in Portland, Oregon. Check their portfolios, read reviews, and ask for references to gauge their expertise and reputation.

Interview Multiple Candidates

Meet with several contractors or designers to discuss your project requirements and get estimates. This will give you a better sense of their communication style, professionalism, and pricing.

Ask for Examples

Request examples of their previous work that aligns with your vision. This will help you assess their design sensibilities and craftsmanship quality.

Check Licenses and Insurance

Ensure that any expert you consider hiring is licensed, bonded, and insured. This protects both parties in the event of accidents or unforeseen circumstances during the construction process.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways from Building a Bathroom

Building a bathroom from scratch can be an exciting project that adds value to your home. By following a step-by-step guide, considering cost factors, and hiring experts, you can create a functional and stylish space. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Step-by-Step Guide: The process of building a bathroom involves several steps, including plumbing installation, flooring installation, vanity and cabinet installation, and lighting setup. Following a systematic approach ensures a successful outcome.
  2. Cost Factors: Adding a bathroom requires careful consideration of various cost factors such as materials, labor, permits, and fixtures. Understanding these expenses beforehand helps in budgeting effectively.
  3. Flooring Installation: Choosing the right flooring material for your bathroom is crucial for both aesthetics and functionality. Options like tiles or vinyl offer durability and easy maintenance.
  4. Vanity and Cabinet Installation: Installing vanities and cabinets provides storage space while enhancing the overall look of your bathroom. Consider factors like size, style, and functionality when selecting these fixtures.
  5. Lighting Up Your Bathroom: Proper lighting is essential for creating an inviting atmosphere in your bathroom. Incorporate task lighting near mirrors or vanities while also considering ambient lighting options.
  6. Comparing Costs: Building vs. Adding a Bathroom Before deciding to build from scratch or add onto an existing space, compare the costs involved in each option to determine what aligns with your budget and needs.
  7. Designing and Building Timeframe: The time it takes to design and build a bathroom from scratch in Portland, Oregon, can vary depending on factors like the complexity of the design, availability of materials, permit processing time, etc.
  8. Hiring Experts for Success: Engaging professionals such as architects or contractors who specialize in bathroom construction ensures quality workmanship and adherence to local building codes.

In conclusion, building a bathroom requires careful planning, attention to detail, and the right team of experts. By following a step-by-step guide, considering cost factors, and making informed decisions about fixtures and design elements, you can create a bathroom that meets your needs and enhances the value of your home.

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