Toilets require more thought than you think, and deserve a bit of consideration when building or renovating a home which you want to be nice for friends, family, guests, and most importantly, yourself.
Let’s have a little fun if we must discuss a topic which is a bit uncomfortable to talk about, which would be the toilets you like to use and the ones which might not be so comfortable. Some people are perfectly content using an outhouse, or a small wooden shack strategically placed over a hole in the ground. Most “normal folk” prefer an indoor toilet with running water which leads to either a sewer or septic system. There are plenty of great jokes about toilets and plumbers, you can trust the funny one you think is clever has been told hundreds of times already, it’s no longer funny. For the sake of this article, we’ll be discussing realistic aspects of installing toilets and plumbing, for both new construction projects and older home renovation. Codes dictate what can and can’t be done, a reputable contractor expresses those code requirements to a client.
Once we understand each other in discussing indoor toilets, there is a wide variety of options available. There are inexpensive basic toilets capable of handling the business at hand, and there are mid-range toilets that are better suited for long term use. There are also fairly expensive toilets and customized luxury toilets available. Each has its pros and cons, what you can afford or “want” to afford to be the most basic consideration. If the toilet is nothing more than a place to relieve yourself while using the bathroom to bathe and prepare for work each morning, a particular toilet might be best suited based on price. Someone else might enjoy long and luxurious baths, enjoy scented candles, and use the room to apply makeup and style their hair. Such a person doesn’t “need” a better toilet, but likely wants one which is more decorative to suit the other features of the room.
Cost of Toilets
Low Priced Generic Toilet: $90+
Toilets don’t have to be very expensive, they can be as low as $90 from Home Depot, or less from a surplus home contractor supply company. It depends on what is or is not available in your area. There are two considerations with such a low priced toilet. First, it’s going to last the rest of your life so be sure you want to replace rather than repair your existing toilet before taking the project too far. Second, the low priced toilet may be best suited for your bathroom, but look at the other options before buying the cheapest toilet you can get.
Toilets for a commercial building are different altogether. Let’s just say it out loud and get it over with one time, then proceed to logical discourse on the topic. “Public bathrooms are gross.” Once we understand the concept, we can proceed to deal with it. Toilets for public buildings, commercial and industrial building styles, have different code requirements than residential dwellings. The low priced generic toilet won’t work in such a situation, a toilet designed for commercial use has to be installed. The exact toilet which meets such a requirement varies by state and local building code ordinances. Always remember it’s better to build beyond code than to barely meet it, as you wouldn’t be happy with the bare minimum requirements you need for anything else you use on a daily basis.
Mid Range Pricing: $200 to $300
Mid-range pricing can be anywhere between $200-$300. Again, remember you’ll be using this toilet for the rest of your life, or at least as long as you live in the current house. Alternately, if it’s a rental home or investment house this is the price range you’ll want to consider as it looks better and will add appeal to the restroom when potential customers are evaluating the home to rent or buy.
In general terms, assuming you buy dinosaurs, dragons, and princess dolls instead of letting kids think your sledgehammer is their favorite toy, this level of a toilet is appropriate for the primary bath, guest bath, and powder room. A mid-range priced toilet is going to be available in several different styles to discretely compliment the rest of the bathroom instead of being a focal point more noticeable than the vanity, shower, or floor.
Expensive Toilet Pricing: $400 to $600
A higher-priced toilet is priced in such a way for a reason and is going to be worth the extra money either for personal comfort or resell value. A more expensive toilet might have a water-saving efficiency design, which is important for certain drought areas. Alternately it might be oversized for people who are exceptionally tall or a bit heavier than average. Generally speaking, a toilet priced between $400-$600 is going to be more comfortable to use and less expensive per flush if you live in an area where the price of water might affect your decisions toward appliances.
Expensive toilets are worth their price. You might want it for your own comfort in the primary bath, or they can be a great showpiece. If you entertain friends and guests at home or if your office is intended to provide a luxury feel for your clients, a toilet which is a bit nicer than average will reflect your attention to detail and expectations of the people you spend time with.
Luxury Toilet Pricing: Millions
Luxury toilets can be as expensive as you can afford. Blenheim Palace in England has a solid 18-karat gold toilet worth six million U.S. Dollars. It was stolen, but being such a distinct artifact it was too hot to sell on the black market. The thief was caught and is currently facing trial, the people who work in the museum are quite relieved at the return of the piece.
Assuming such a thing is out of your price range, expensive toilets comparable to real toilets can add simple features such as a bidet or heated seat, or can be computerized to lift the lid and heat the seat according to the individual preferences of the person using it. Such toilets can be programmed to recognize each individual who lives in the home and adjust itself automatically when a person enters the room. They also have override controls, which allow the temperature of the seat and the water from the bidet to suit your general best interest but change according to your mood on any given day.
Labor Cost of Installing a Toilet: 2 Hours (Generally)
Generally 2 hours of labor (barring any complications)!
The labor price for toilet installation can vary as much as the price of the toilet does. It also depends on what the contractor rates in a given area are. Installing a toilet according to prices of downtown major cities is going to be more than having one installed in a suburban neighborhood, which can also vary according to average home prices around such a location. Those prices aren’t going to be relevant to the expense of having a new toilet installed in a rural area whether as a new construction project or a renovation.
The important part of paying for toilet installation is the same as other contract jobs. You need three estimates, and a full understanding of what the contract entails. At some point there is a “leap of faith” involved, the new person without references might just do the best job for the least amount of money, but they might not. An established reputable contractor with references in the local community is trustworthy and in most cases worth a slightly higher pay than someone you don’t know and nobody else knows either. A further consideration I personally find more important than pricing is whether my instinct suggests I want the person bidding the job in my home and around my children. Yes, I’ll pay extra for someone I trust instead of someone who is going to send strangers as employees to do the job.
Generally speaking, it should take about two hours to install a toilet, pricing depends on what the contractor or plumber charges. There will be a licensed plumber to pay, a helper or laborer, and in some cases a commission for the person who lined up the work with the client. Keep in mind, two hours is installation. It will take longer to go pick up the toilet or go to a hardware store for proper fittings and adapters if the plumbing doesn’t match the actual toilet, or if the homeowner didn’t provide the wax seal which goes underneath the unit.
Any special features the toilet might offer such as heated seats, auto flush or seat raising and lowering, are going to take longer to properly install and may require a second team of licensed electricians to complete. The utmost luxury, a computerized toilet, might need a licensed professional trained with how to set and program the hardware and software involved for it to function.
Other customization features are available than computerized iToilets or SmartToilets. Padded seats are available for elderly people or someone with certain health issues. Handicapped rails aren’t part of the toilet, but the person installing the toilet will understand such a need and address it appropriately. There are ways to raise or lower the actual seating area, should someone have such a need or preference.
A further expense that might be unexpected is flooring. With a replacement toilet in an older home, the floor may well be rotted from previous water leaks. The sub-floor is what it is, it has to be structurally sound to mount the toilet. If the floor joists are also compromised, they need reinforcement before the project can continue. Mold needs to be treated permanently while the floor is open, or code might require bringing old plumbing or electric lines up to date once exposed. It’s impossible to anticipate every nuance of what might come up, so a well-written contract and estimate should include a guide toward how unexpected problems will be dealt with.
Pipes and Plumbing Installation
Pipes and plumbing are another issues to consider when installing a new toilet. New construction has become modular in nature, every step of the process fits with the next, and the plumbing will be properly placed for easy installation of the toilet. In older houses, whether as a renovation, upgrade, or necessary repair, the pipes already installed are going to need to be adapted to suit the fittings of the new toilet. In some cases, the pipes themselves might require replacement.
Once again, these aren’t predictable incidents, but they do come up with toilet installation and especially with older homes or buildings. There simply is no way for a plumber to look at your toilet and know what’s happening underneath in terms of plumbing, electric, or structural framing. For that reason, plumbing often comes down to an hourly rate rather than a job bid, and you just have to trust the contractor you’re working with. A great plumber has plenty of other jobs to do, they aren’t going to spend any more time at your house than really need to get the job done, done right, and assure they don’t have to come back to fix mistakes later.