For anyone sharing a home with young children, teenagers or elderly people, or regular overnight guests, the advantages of an additional toilet, particularly one downstairs, are self-evident. lt relieves congestion during family rush hours and saves children and adults having to climb flights of stairs in a tall house and it also means guests don’t ever have to use the main bathroom and can leave their coats downstairs.
More often than not, installing a separate toilet is both feasible and economical; it can even improve the value of your home. But do draw up your plans in consultation with an architect or plumber familiar with local building and water regulations. The installation of a new WC, or any plumbing work that modifies or adds to the existing waste system, must be approved by your local building inspector.
A separate toilet can be fitted into a surprisingly small space. The optimum dimensions of approximately 1400 by 900mm allow room for a standard WC with a 500mm-wide cistern and 700mm projection together with a compact wall – mounted cloakroom hand basin. Any plans to install a WC depend on the position of the existing soil stack to which it has to be connected via a bulk soil pipe, 100mm in diameter.
An ideal situation would be an existing bathroom, as it is possible to create a further access point to the soil stack at ground floor level, although this is definitely a job for a professional. The distance from the WC pan to the soil stack should be as short as possible for its gravity-fed drainage system to work efficiently. Sometimes it can be extended by a branch if you decide to put the second WC in a room next to the existing bathroom. The new small bore units which are connected directly to the pan enable a WC to be installed almost anywhere in the building, including a basement or attic.
Compact and unobtrusive, they incorporate an efficient macerator which finely mills waste on flushing; an electrically-powered pump discharges it through 22mm pipework horizontally to a soil stack up to 20m away. But do bear in mind that this system requires you to have special approval from your local authority before proceeding.
A window that opens is not obligatory. But in the absence of one, the Building Regulations demand that ample ventilation is provided by an extractor fan (fitted into a window or an external wall). The extractor can come on automatically together with the light, or be operated by a pull cord linked to the light switch or a simple door-closing mechanism.