Plumbing and mechanical codes are revised and re-issued approximately every 3 years, which will explain some of the issues that come up in older homes when it’s time for a remodel. For instance, depending on the age of the home, current codes may dictate greater clearances for the toilet, which may mean something has to move!

Codes today will have limits to the gallons-per-flush your new toilet is allowed. If, for instance, the toilet is an original 1950’s era fixture, it’s probably a 3.5-gallon flush model, which is not code compliant. A 1.5-gallon flushing toilet is now standard, and your water bill will thank you for the change.

Other bathroom age-related issues are the pipes and fixtures. Things wear out, and the rate of wear depends also on the number of residents using them.

New vanities, more efficient toilets, showers/tubs and faucets can be replaced, as long as they are the same size as the fixtures being replaced. Otherwise, adjustments have to be made to provide the proper clearances.

However, the older the home the more complicated – and expensive – the job gets. Homes built before 1950 probably have galvanized supply lines that have completed their useful life. They should be replaced with copper or PEX. The wiring may need updating and there may or may not be an exhaust fan. An older home could have been subjected to moisture damage in the bathroom at some time, and so the walls and floor should be inspected for rot.

With a vintage home, a full gut job is the best solution for an upgrade. This allows for a full inspection of the supply pipes and the drain, waste and vent system.

An added bonus to gutting the bath is that it provides the option of completely reconfiguring the room. The options are almost endless: Jetted tub, separate water closet, separate tub and shower, double bowl vanity, makeup area.

Or, if your aims are simple, a bathroom makeover with all new fixtures, tile flooring, fresh paint and a whisper-quiet exhaust fan will do wonders for your morale, every time you step in the bathroom!