Friday, January 15, 2016 / by Bill Berning*
A bathroom renovation can add value to your property, if it’s done right. These three things are key.
Believe it or not, there’s a right way to renovate your bathroom and a wrong way. Done right, a bathroom can boost the equity of a home, recouping up to 70 percent of the renovation costs. Done wrong, no matter how attractive, it can be a loss. Here are three things that are key to boosting the value of your home through a bathroom renovation.
According to the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report issued by the National Association of Realtors in conjunction with Hanley Wood’s Remodeling Magazine, a bathroom remodel can add up to 70 percent of its cost to the home’s value. But, you shouldn’t expect to recoup anywhere near that if you don’t make smart renovations.
How do you renovate your bathroom so you add value to your home? Start by taking the time to assess your home’s value. (Consult a real estate agent for an accurate estimate.) The last thing you want to do is price yourself out of the market by spending $25,000 on a bathroom in a neighborhood where the average home price is $150,000.
Once you’ve set a reasonable budget, spend wisely. Every home will have different needs, and some renovations won’t make as much since in one neighborhood as they would another. However, these three guidelines will keep you on track and help you add value to your home.
An upscale bathroom renovation—defined by the cost vs. value report as one that costs approximately $54,000—rarely offers a good return on investment. Instead, it recommends sticking to a midrange renovations of $40,000 or less. But even that figure can be misleading.
You can remodel a bathroom without spending a lot of money, according to interior designer, Katie Orin of Home Rescue 411 and KTO Designs. Replacing the toilets and vanities may not be as sexy as glass tile, but it can have a huge impact, she says. Other cost effective improvements can include replacing faucets, showerheads, or the mirror. Give the room a fresh coat of paint, and you have an inexpensive renovation that recoups a large percentage of your expenditures while adding value to the property.
On the other hand, you run a risk when you incorporate trendy elements and accents into your bathroom renovation. Those glass tiles look fabulous in the magazine, but in five years, they can make the bathroom look dated and worn. (Contractors call this stylistic depreciation.) At that point, when buyers walk through your home, they mentally subtract value from your home because they’re calculating how much they will have to spend to update your renovation.
If your goal is to boost the equity of your home, keep your bathroom renovations modest and conservative. Don’t overspend, and don’t over decorate. Instead, focus on updating the essentials like the sink or faucets. When it comes to materials, choose basic, such as ceramic tile, instead of trendy materials that will all-too-soon date the property.
Make the master regal.
If you are going to splurge a little on any bathroom renovation, make it the master bathroom. Buyers today have certain expectations when it comes to this area—at the very least, they want his and hers sinks, an upgraded shower, and great lighting. Without these items, the master bathroom can actually be a turnoff, so spending a little more money may be worth the investment.
Balance is the key. You don’t’ want to overspend because you won’t be able to recoup your renovation costs, but at the same time, if you fail to make necessary renovations, you could turn buyers off. So, how do you strike that balance? Bring the bathroom up to date with buyers’ wants and needs but don’t go overboard. Add that second sink if you only have one in the master bath, but don’t install something over-the-top like electronically activated faucets, if you are more concerned about boosting equity.
The same applies to the shower. Buyers want an upgraded shower in the master bathroom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pull out the existing shower and put in a custom snail shower during renovations. If the shower is in good condition, you can hire a professional tub and tile re-glazer, Orin says. A white glaze will make the shower look new.
You don’t have to skimp, though. If you plan to stay in your home long term (five or more years), make the changes you want to your master bathroom. Just realize that you probably won’t see a boost in equity from upscale renovations like heated master bathroom floors, audio systems, and saunas.
Increase the size.
People have expectations when it comes to the number of bathrooms a modern house should have. A home with one full bathroom, even if there’s a second, half-bath, is just not going to cut it anymore. If your home has only one full bathroom, consider converting the half-bathroom into a second full one.
In the case of the home with one full bathroom and one half-bath, this could entail simply adding a shower to the existing bathroom. Or, you may have to knock out a wall and incorporate square footage from another room to increase the second bathroom’s size. It can be an expensive remodel, but it will almost certainly add equity.
On the other hand, if your property only has one bathroom, adding a second bathroom can increase the value of the home by up to 58 percent of the cost of your renovations. It’s not a great return, but it definitely makes the property easier to market since most buyers are looking for at least a 3-bedroom, 2-full bath home.
Adding a bathroom takes extra time and effort, so it’s not for everyone. The renovation is involved, especially if you have to physically add square footage versus converting existing space, like an unused closet, into a bathroom because it involves extending the foundation and roof and putting up new exterior walls. If that sounds expensive, it is. You can spend anywhere from roughly $40,000 to $75,000 on a bathroom addition, according to the cost vs. value report.
When in doubt about whether adding an additional bathroom is a good idea, talk to a real estate agent who can tell you what’s appropriate for the neighborhood and estimate how much value the new bathroom could add.