What I should know about adding a shower to a half-bath in NYC?
January 9, 2014 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I live in a 1.5 bath NYC condo. The half-bath is large enough to accommodate installation of a small shower stall, without requiring relocation of the existing sink and toilet. I've received approval from the building's board to begin this process and the owner of the vacant commercial space below me will allow access for the simple drain installation but, before I retain an architect ($$), I would appreciate input, in general, on what I can expect from the city permit process (permits required, cost, time) and advance notice of any other issues I should be aware of before embarking on this road? Thank you.
posted by mbx to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, your architect should be the one to advise you about the permitting process, but you will need to submit plans to the NYC Department of Buildings, in addition to your condo board.
posted by dfriedman at 8:17 AM on January 9, 2014

you'll want to add a ventilation fan if there's not already one there. shower= high humidity
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2014

I am not an architect. I am a architectural intern, but I work in California. For specifics, you would really have to talk to an architect. It is a very small cost relative to the overall cost of the project, and it sounds like you know you need one sooner or later.

An architect, probably in conjunction with a mechanical designer, will talk with you and draw up plans for the project. That will take at least a couple weeks. Most of this is not time the architect is working for you; he's just trying to fit it in his/his consultants' schedule.

Then, you get a copy of the plans, and they are submitted to the city. You pay a plancheck fee. The plancheck fee is based on the construction valuation. In the jurisdictions, I deal with plancheck takes about 2-4 weeks. Ask an architect in your area. They'll probably tell you how long plancheck takes without making you pay a retainer.

After the plans are reviewed, you pay a permit fee and pull the permit. The permit fee is also based on the valuation of the project. Usually, your contractor would do that for you, and include the permit fee in the contract, because they need to provide their license / workers comp. numbers.

If you're really ambitious, and you have construction estimate, call the local building department and get plancheck and permit fees, but these things seem to vary from day to day and based on who is running the number. There's always a surcharge here or there.

I'd give you an estimate in percentage for how much to expect for design / plancheck / permit, but for a small project like this, it's really difficult to do.
posted by Llamadog-dad at 9:00 AM on January 9, 2014

I have no idea from an architectural or permit standpoint, but my parents redid my bathroom when I was in college due to some serious dry rot issues. The previous shower stall was custom but they didn't want to deal with or pay for a new custom shower, so they bought the biggest prefab stall that would fit. The space was kinda awkward so the largest prefab wasn't really quite big enough. I pretty much used the master bath when I was at home because I hated that shower!

- The actual space inside the shower was rather small.
- The door was on the corner, so it was hard to get in and out of.
- There was no storage for shampoos and such so everything was always knocking around on the floor and I was terrified of hitting my head.

I'm not saying don't do it, just be careful of how you implement it from a practical standpoint.
posted by radioamy at 11:26 AM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you all for the input. I asked someone today about it and they mentioned possible ADA (American Disability Act) issues. Anyone know anything about that?
posted by mbx at 12:19 PM on January 9, 2014

I don't think there are ADA issues for a private home.

As for "other" issues, is this a new or old building? What kind of renovations have been done in the past and were all of them done according to code?
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:39 PM on January 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks re:ADA. The building is around 30 years old. All renovations in the past have been cosmetic (new floors, finishes, etc.) and, I'm assuming, done according to code.
posted by mbx at 1:13 PM on January 9, 2014

There may actually be ADA issues in NYC. The Ins and Outs of ADA Compliance in NYC. The actual standard you'd have to build to appears to be ICC A117.1, for Type B units, as you live in an R-2 occupancy (apartment building). There might be an exception covering your apartment, though. An architect will know.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: Architect ? Why exactly are you hiring an architect ?

I am an electrical contractor. You want to hire as few professionals as possible. Each professional service you hire (especially in NYC) is going to add substantially to the total cost of the project.

If I were you, the first person I would talk to is a plumber. Most good plumbers can do the vast majority of this work on their own. This job is not rocket science. You are installing a pre-fabricated shower stall, and re-routing three plumbing pipes (hot, cold, drain). You might need to hire a handyman to repair sheet-rock, then tile and paint (assuming you cannot paint yourself) when the plumber is done. But this job should not really involve any major structural modifications that would require architectural plans.

A licensed plumber will take care of any permits and plans. The plumber may have to submit a plumbing diagram with the permit application, but again most plumbers can do that. If the plumber tells you that there are structural issues involved, then you need a General Contractor. If the GC requires architectural plans, then get them.

Don't start right off by paying for architectural plans that you probably do not even need.
posted by Flood at 5:15 PM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: Requirements for ADA only kick in when the project is deemed a total renovation, which is generally around 50% of the space has been modified. You are not moving the sink, you are not moving the toilet. You are not touching any electrical. You are not re-locating heat ducts. You are not moving any walls. I do not think that a small projection like this will trigger an updated standards requirement for the room.

If the room has to be ADA, then you have lots of issues. Then your electrical has to be brought up the the 2011 NEC code. You will probably have to pull new home runs from the circuit panel. That will mean holes in your walls from the bathroom all the way to the electrical panel.

Get it out of your head right now that this is some massive re-model job. If you go that route of thinking, you are going to quadruple your costs at least. This is a small project adding a shower stall and installing three small runs of water pipe.

Your plumber, if he is licensed, which he should be, will know exactly if there are ADA requirements.

Start with a plumber, please. Save yourself. Do not start with architects and ADA compliance plans.
posted by Flood at 5:23 PM on January 9, 2014

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