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A contractor wants to build a raised floor for my bathroom basement that he is building for me instead of breaking the concrete. The plumbing would be underneath the floor. Is this a viable and safe alternative to breaking concrete? Or does he just want to keep the costs down for himself?

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Is this something he has already given a price on? If adding the bathroom included everything set at floor level, not raised, hold him to it. Unless the waste line going out to the sewer/septic isn't low enough to get fall to get out the house properly. Then an ejector pit will be needed, that's expensive. Long and short of it, if he has a contract, and he is changing the scope of work, then a price change has to go along with it. If it is by the hour, then there will be a cost saving that you may realize. I would not do the raised floor if at all possible, all for the reasons Ecnerwal mention –  Jack Dec 5 '13 at 23:45
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2 Answers 2

Why does he need to move the plumbing in the first place? My guess is that its simply because the drain in the concrete is in the incorrect place? I finish basements professionally for a living. Very rarely do you have the luxury of the base plumbing being in the exact right location. In almost every job that I do we move the tub/shower drain. If you are using an experienced, professional plumber, this is a no brainer. Unless, of course their is a grade issue where he can't get the proper fall. However, if there is an existing drain under the concrete, this is a very unlikely situation. If we are moving plumbing less than 3' we use a jack hammer. if it's more than that, we saw cut. The previous reply is correct about the dust and mess of concrete saws... and it's more expensive (typically). If you are tiling the floor, just ensure that your concrete patch is very level (or just below the concrete grade) and then level quick the patch after the concrete is done. The fact that a jackhammer makes a 'jagged edge' hole is ok if you are installing flooring over it, as long as the patch is level.

For time and costs... my plumber charges $75 per hr for jackhammering (usually doesn't take more than an hour). Labor and time to rebase the drain into the correct location - $200-$350. Concrete patch - Less than $100.

To me its a no brainer... do it the right way, move it and repair the concrete. If your contractor has an issue with that, he may not be a contractor you want to finish this project for you.

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Keeping the costs down for himself might keep your costs down as well.

However, I would generally be dubious about this approach for two reasons - one is having a step up/down at or in the bathroom, which might well cause a fall. Another is lack of headroom in the bathroom - most basements (not all, perhaps yours is a tall one) are already cramped for ceiling height, and a low ceiling is annoying, especially if there is a shower in the bathroom.

It's hard to be definite without considerably more information - there could be an issue with sewer line height that is a additional reason to raise the plumbing, for instance, though that can be managed in other ways - however, they involve pumps and sewage, and when sewage pumps fail (they always do, eventually) it's a stinky mess to deal with.

Concrete saws make a much neater and quicker job than "breaking concrete" (visions of jackhammers) by the way.

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Concrete saws generate huge amounts of dust, and even when water is used, still throw mud all over the place. I would disagree that its neater than just breaking up the concrete. Easier maybe, but definitely not neater. –  Steven Dec 5 '13 at 17:57
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