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The Case for Adding a (Brand NEW!) Bath to Your House

The cost isn’t trivial. And the ROI? Forget it. But here’s when it makes sense.

Image: The Sena Family

Ever hear someone say, “I have way too many bathrooms — I want to turn one into a closet”?

Thought not.

Most people dream of adding bath space — not subtracting it. 

But the cost!?! As much as $50,000 according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Here’s how to know if the investment of a bath addition is worth it on your house:

If Home Prices Are Rising in Your Neighborhood

If home prices are steadily increasing (no peaks or valleys) in your neighborhood, you likely will be adding to your home’s value, which means you could recoup much or most of the {{ start_tip 30 }}cost.{{ end_tip }}

If your neighborhood’s home values are a bit flat, you’ll recoup much less. “Say you have an older row house that sells for $70,000 on a good day,” she says. “If you add a $30,000 bath to that house, you’re not going to have a $100,000 house. You’re going to have a $70,000 house with a really expensive bathroom,”  says certified appraiser Melanie J. McLane of Jersey Shore, Pa.

Each situation depends on the local market, McLane says, but a general rule of thumb is that you should only undertake a major remodeling project if you plan to stay in your home at least five years.

If You've Only Got One Bathroom

Buyers tend to prefer that the number of bathrooms roughly equal the number of bedrooms, according to the NAHB. Additions that bring bathrooms in line with bedrooms will likely return a bigger portion of their investment.

The most valuable bathroom addition you can make is when you start with only one bath in the house — a second bath makes a good impression on buyers and can be the difference between selling a house and having it remain on the market.

Another important area of balance is showers vs. tubs. For maximum resale potential, you need one of each in your house — young children need a tub for bath time, and aging buyers (including the massive Baby Boomers market) often prefer a shower when stepping in and out of a slippery tub becomes less appealing. An addition that gives you the shower or tub you’re lacking is a smart choice.

If You Make It a Full Bath Instead of a Half-Bath

Both Miedema and McLane suggest adding a full bath (or a 3/4 bath, which has a shower stall) rather than a half. “If I’m going to go to the trouble and expense of getting carpenters and plumbers in there, I’m adding at least a shower stall,” McLane says.

NAHB data suggest that an additional half bath increases a home’s value by 10.5%, but an additional full bath increases the value by 20%.

If the Joy of a New Bath Is Priceless to You

The “Remodeling Impact Report” asked homeowners how happy they were with their new bath additions. Guess what? Not one said they had regrets. It got a perfect 10 on the the report’s “Joy Score!”

If sharing a bath is making you miserable, then the experience alone of having an additional bath could totally be worth it. “Only the homeowner can decide what the personal satisfaction is worth,” McLane says.

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