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How To Add an Outdoor Shower

How To Add an Outdoor Shower
Enjoy this modern outdoor shower.
Showering often feels like more of an obligation than a pleasure — especially if you exercise and have to take more than one a day. Which might explain the burgeoning popularity of outdoor showers. “You’re showering outside in the elements, and there’s something about that that intrigues people,” says Phil Regan, principal designer at Hutker Architects

Outdoor showers have become so popular, Regan can’t remember a time he did a house without one. (Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that his office is in Martha’s Vineyard, an upscale resort island off the coast of Massachusetts.) But even if you’re not a block from the beach (or the nearest neighbor), outdoor showers can shake up your routine and make you feel closer to nature.

Project: Add an outdoor shower.

Why: An outdoor shower makes a mundane ritual much more appealing, allowing you to savor fresh air, sky, birdsong and possibly even a view while you bathe. It’s especially handy for rinsing off before or after a dip in the pool, a trip to the beach or a grubby day of gardening. Many homeowners use them for bathing their dogs. 

“It’s a pretty sybaritic experience, but not everyone is going to be comfortable with that,” acknowledges architect Julie Campbell of CTA Design Builders in Seattle.

Who to hire: Outdoor showers require excavation, slab work, plumbing and alterations to the existing walls of the home, so don’t just hire a plumber — go with a general contractor who has experience building outdoor showers. Without that, “you’re probably going to make a bunch of simple mistakes,” says Regan, whose firm designed the shower tower shown here.

Cost range: A simple shower with hot and cold running water, like this one, can cost less than $1,000 to install. A moderate setup with a fancier enclosure can run anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. And a more elaborate shower can cost $4,000 to $8,000 or more.

Typical project length: A simple installation can be done in two weeks; allow six to eight weeks for more complex projects.

Permit: You’ll probably need a plumbing permit. Whether you’ll need a building permit depends on the design, cost and complexity of the project and the rules in your municipality. Many jurisdictions don’t even allow outdoor showers, so do your homework first.

Best time to do this project:Anytime the ground is not frozen.

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