When too many people want to use the bathroom at the same time at home, it becomes a major source of family friction. Among the best solution here is to see whether it is possible to provide extra facilities in the house, so that the whole family does not have to rely on access to a single bathroom.
Remember that a small shower or wet room, comprising an open shower area, small wall-mounted basin, a toilet with a built-in cistern and a sliding-door access, which can be accommodated in a space as small as 1100mm x 2200mm. So even if you are not fortunate enough to live in a large house, you may be able to find room for such an alteration.
The main restrictions concern the proximity of waste drainage and water pipes, and proper ventilation will need to be provided. If you don’t have the space or the budget to build a separate shower room, it is advisable to relieve pressure by installing double sinks.
Double sinks provide extra convenience for high traffic areas – no waiting in line to brush your teeth in the morning, or no shaving cream drying on your face while you wait for your partner to finish with her make-up application. With double sinks, there is room for everyone.
According to Arvind Raghwani, managing director at Laxcon, there should be a distance of at least 750mm between the two basins, measured from the centre line of one basin to the centre line of the second: “Less distance is acceptable, but will make it more difficult for two people to use the area at the same time.”
The two main considerations that dictate layout are the plumbing system and the need to provide sufficient space around the various fixtures for them to be used comfortably. Otherwise, the only considerations are the positions of the windows and the door.
The following guidelines can help you design a convenient bathroom space
The first priority in drainage planning is the location of the toilet as this need to be close to the sewer drain. You should keep the toilet located next to an outside wall for easy access, as laying new drainage pipes beneath the floors is very disruptive and expensive.
It will also be difficult to access, which may be problematic later on should the pipe become blocked. The waste pipes for other fittings can often run round one or more sides of the room as they tend to be small in diameter, but the ideal is to always aim for the shortest pipe runs, with as few bends possible. All pipes should slope gently downwards.
General bathroom ventilation is very important and is achieved via opening windows, by extractor fans, or both. Extractor fans do work, but nothing can compare to an opening window so it is important to try and include one in the bathroom design.
Windows are not only good for ventilation, but they are also important sources of natural light for the bathroom.
The position of the various washing facilities in the bathroom are influenced to a degree by the supply pipes from hot and cold water.
Long runs of hot water pipe are not recommended as they waste energy, and so should be avoided at all costs. In a low pressure plumbing system, the priority is to get a sufficient head of pressure by the correct placement of the geyser or the installation of a pump.
One of the major considerations in bathroom design is the space that is provided around the various fittings and sanitary-ware.
If the bathroom is to be comfortable to use, you have to allow sufficient space for movement. The crucial area is around the basin, where there needs to be a minimum of 200mm elbow room on either side and 700mm of space in front to allow comfortable washing.
Enclosed showers with one or two sides require a clear floor space of 400mm next to the tray for access and dressing, while those enclosed on three sides require a minimum of 700mm of space in front. Make sure you have easy access to bath taps, and a minimum space of 700mm x 1100mm next to the bath for climbing out and drying.
Baths can be placed below a sloping ceiling, for example below stairs or under the eaves of the roof – 1200mm headroom above the base of the bath is usually adequate, but it is advisable to check the space beforehand by physically going through the actions.
Similarly, you can fit a toilet in a restricted space – 2000mm headroom is required to stand in front of the pan, but the roofline can slope down to 1200mm behind the cistern. Clear space of 600mm x 800mm should be left n front of the toilet for access. A bidet requires similar space, plus a 200mm knee space either side.
When rearranging fittings, ensure that enough space is left for the door to swing open and for a person to step into the room and shut the door comfortably. If necessary, doors can be re-hung to open outwards, but take care that they will not hit anyone passing outside is opened suddenly.
Alternatively, sliding, concertina or saloon doors offer great space-saving and very functional alternatives.
Arvind Raghwani, Managing Director,