Remove an unused basement bathroom

6 Replies

Dear BP community,

I'm a beginner at this landlord stuff and have owned a multifamily for just about a year and a half. I'm looking for guidance on a pest/bathroom issue.

I  live on the first floor of the unit and my basement is split up so that front of the house has a small bedroom + bath then is a section for the furnace/boiler, then a medium sized studio w/ bathroom in 2nd half towards the back. The front room + bath is unused. It is directly below my bedroom and I do not want to rent it out nor offer it up to the basement studio tenant. We have had a bit of a roach/waterbug issue lately and I've had multiple extermination companies tell me it's due to the unused bathroom. I'm thinking about removing the bathroom. 

My contractor has told me that I can put caps on the bathtub drainhole and remove the showerhead and put a cap also. That's easier enough. Also, it's easy enough to remove the toilet and vanity/faucet but he'd have to cover it up with cement and he assures me that if i ever want to add the bathroom back, breaking up the cement to get to the piping would be easy enough. As long as I own this house, i will never use this bathroom so i dont mind removing it. However, in case i ever want to sell (which i have no plans for at this point in my life), i'm worried that i'm taking away value from my house by removing a full bath. Also, i'm not sold that the cement would be easy to break up and worried that breaking it up would also harm the toilet/faucet piping beneath it.

My question to you is:

1. What do folks think about removing a unused bathroom as far as house value is concerned? The basement still has a full bath in the studio and I can't imagine this bathroom being used unless the small bedroom is rented out also which besides being tiny, is illegal.

2. What do folks think about removing the small bedroom AND bathroom in it's entirety and just have an open space? I'm hoping that a more open space with fresh paint would provide fewer places for roaches to hide.

3. I use a well reviewed exterminator company that comes once a month. I also use advion on my own as it works well and i have a hard time trusting companies that makes regular money off of my need of them. Does anyone have any further suggestions on how to get rid of my roach problem? Any way to get rid of these things for good? 

4. Any thoughts, feedback, guidance is appreciated.

Thanks so much!

I have never heard of an unused bathroom being the source of roaches. Roaches may like the moisture of a bathroom but they still need to eat. 

If you don't need the bathroom there are ways of closing off everything without making it permanent. 

1. Turn off all the supply valves. 

2. Pull the toilet and cap the toilet flange.

3. Cap the sink drain pipe.

That's pretty much the sum of it. And it's totally reversible. The vent pipes don't matter because they all attach through the drain pipes. The plumber is full of crap (no pun intended😜)  because you can cap toilet flanges - it's done all the time to pressure test new drain pipe plumbing. You don't need to break up the cement.

As for your pest problem, that's coming from somewhere else. Roaches are generally attracted to food and animal waste. If you don't have either of those you will be unlikely to keep roaches. 

@JD Martin :

thank you for your response. the supply lines are all off and have been since we purchased the house. What i've been told is because the water is off, it allows for an open pipe for waterbugs to enter through. Vs used pipes where there is a constant flow of water that acts as a barrier of entry. As far as the cement goes - around the pipes in the walls/ground, there are gaps. The contractor suggested cementing the gaps along with the pipes to ensure a good seal.

OK, well sealing the gaps around pipes is completely different than turning off the water. Gaps around pipes will allow access to anything that can come in from that area (mice, roaches, whatever). 

As for the "constant flow of water", this makes no sense. If the toilet and sink water lines are turned off at the valves, you have pressurized water all the way up to that point and no opening into the room (otherwise water would be gushing out of the opening). No part of your drainage system has constant water flow unless you have a water leak or something that dumps water non-stop into the waste system. Otherwise, you have P-traps, which hold water to prevent gas smells from entering the space), and a bunch of pipes open to the atmosphere but that are still sealed from the room if you put a cap on the opening. 

As @JD Martin says it is simple enough to seal the drains, seal around the pipes without removing most fixtures and without concrete. Where are you located? Is  there also a moisture problem in these rooms due to humidity? 

Deleting the bath might or might not adversely affect the property value. But I'm pretty sure it won't help. Usually, more is better. Just mothball it as suggested.