Guest Column - January 2022
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inPERSPECTIVE / RESTROOMS

Restroom Planning Made Easy

By Jeremy Smith


When planning a restroom for a park, or any outside area, there are many considerations that factor into the design, the least of which include functionality, size requirements, site allowances and cost. Once those items are resolved, the fun part begins. How do you ensure the restroom will fit, aesthetically, into your park environment?

Precast concrete restrooms have fully customizable options that have the ability to imitate virtually any existing structure and fit into your outdoor space. Not only will the precast concrete building last for decades, it will look as though it was always a part of the original design.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed new restrooms and shower buildings for multiple sites around the 8,400 acres at Lake Wappapello in Southeastern Missouri, they chose precast concrete as a long-lasting, durable material. With the solid design and consistent finishes on the restrooms, they were able to match the rustic, natural setting that makes the area such a popular spot.

The precast building construction technique easily allows for the roof panels to be cast to emulate finishes like cedar shake or metal seams and wall panels can appear as if they are constructed of actual wood siding (barn-board and shiplap), brick or natural stone. Each surface can be stained or painted to match specific color schemes offering flexibility to match specific facility requirements.

Precast buildings are not just for the rustic and woodsy park scene. There are often other factors that play into the specific design specifications. Architecture may be more traditional or more modern and the restrooms and out-buildings can be customized to fit in. From a board and batten look, to brick with a built-up gabled roof, to a simple, clean look, most park visitors would never know that the building they were using was not a stick-built, traditional-construction design, but a pre-assembled, all-precast building with the finish cast right into the panels.

In addition to the many different finishes and colors available, most structures are delivered and set within hours, limiting the land disturbance and the amount of time that contractors are on site. Single or double restrooms or modules for larger buildings are completely outfitted with plumbing, electrical wiring and fixtures in the factory and arrive on-site ready to be hooked up to utilities and put into service. One major consideration is plumbing, and options are available for both flush (electric, water and sewer utilities available) or vault (dry or remote locations). Vault restrooms sit on top of concrete vaults (tanks) accessible through hatches for pump-out services. Other items available to work into the design include lighting, occupancy sensors, heating, hand dryers, water fountains, emergency horn or strobes, water saver plumbing fixtures and solar power.

These precast concrete restrooms are durable, they can last for decades and are built to withstand heavy snow, hurricane strength winds and rain, heavy use and more. The ease-of-use and modular design—which allows for a quick installation that comes fully plumbed and wired, while being easily adaptable to fit into the surroundings—help facility managers live a little easier when it's time for a new structure.

Prefabricated concrete buildings may have a slightly higher initial cost than traditional metal or site-built masonry or wood buildings. However, the long-term savings in maintenance and replacement or renovation costs play a large role in their success. Upfront savings in less site preparation, speed of installation and project timelines, and user satisfaction make the return on investment worth that initial cost.

The only limit to the look, finish and use of these buildings is your imagination. So, when designing your next park facility, consider precast concrete buildings. With all the creative custom options and history of being a smart investment, you are sure to find, or design, just the building you are looking for. RM



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Smith is the building products manager for Easi-Set Worldwide, based in Midland, Va. He has been in the precast concrete industry for more than 35 years, from production, quality control and sales, to licensing and developing new products for precast concrete markets around the globe with Easi-Set Worldwide.