One of the things I really got out of the cool thai house prototype is that the bathroom really has to be well laid out prior to starting construction. The plan (or house blueprint) will include some of the bathroom layout, but it is meant to be an overall guide and not exact. You can't really lay out the bathroom until you decide on all of the things which will go in there and have measurements for everything, including toilets, bathtubs, shower enclosures, and sinks. This same thing applies to everywhere in the house where cabinets and fixtures are going to be installed, but is especially true in the bathroom.
The first thing to decide is: Will each shower will have an individual hot water heater, will there be a central water heater. A central water heating unit isn't all that much more expensive than a good individual shower unit, but there are a lot of added expenses in plumbing it in and in additional hardware. The plumbing for the hot water should be copper, although there is also the option of using heavy metal pipe. The problem is this: it will probably rust out after about 10 years and as it is encased in cement, this isn't a very good option. You could design it so the copper plumbing runs above ground, but this isn't the way it is normally done. It seems that there are a lot of people that deal with hot water plumbing who are really expensive, to the point of being in the rip-off category. One copper plumber came to bid on doing the bathroom and related plumbing for the cool thai house and he wanted 10 times what the job eventually went for. Another thing which drives up costs is that hot and cold faucets are much more expensive than normal cold water ones. The bottom line here is that central hot water is nice but needs to be budgeted accordingly.
Since the bathroom and plumbing is one of the more expensive parts of the house, professional developers often try to cut corners. What comes to mind are plastic bathtubs with poor quality drain kits and no 'p-trap'. Plumbing in a bathtub is a lot of work and it isn't an easy thing to get at the under the bathtub plumbing once the tub is enclosed. To save say 5000 Baht by using poor a poor quality bathtub and accessories isn't worth it. A better option than a plastic bathtub is either a good acrylic bathtub or no bathtub at all.
Septics are another area to keep an eye on. It is so cost effective to add a couple of drainage rings at the onset of building that it is almost always better to be safe than sorry. The normal depth is 4 drainage rings, 5 or more is probably better. Septics are normally pretty trouble free, but I've had past experiences of the water not seeping into the soil because of hardness of the soil. There are companies that will bring a truck and pump out your septic for you, but this should only be required rarely.
Shower enclosures are gaining in popularity, and there are a lot of models on display at Homepro. They range in price from about 8000 Baht all the way up to 100,000 or more. A good quality one of tempered glass can be purchased for about 10000 Baht. I can't see any advantage to buying the acrylic drain panel, which is an option, as a concrete and tile base seems to be very sturdy and works great. If you purchase one an Homepro you can contract with them there for the labor, which is a good idea if you plumber hasn't done one before. This may well be the case (your plumber not having ever installed a shower stall before), since these only started becoming popular recently.
Lastly, sink enclosures. You can purchase sinks that come with a base, or a sink that is to be mounted in a enclosure. The enclosure idea seems to be a good one as it looks pretty good, is durable and cheap. Materials include cement, red bricks, tile, a door made or waterproof material and of course the sink itself. The most expensive part of doing it this way will be the door itself, which will cost upwards of 1000 Baht.
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This page was last updated October 2nd, 2009