Maximize Your Home's Return on Investment: Bathroom Renovations

master bathroom

If you’re going to choose one area of your home to upgrade, the bathroom is likely to give you plenty of bang for your buck. This is true, according to Remodeling magazine’s most recent Cost vs. Value Report, whether you add an upscale bathroom or choose a more modest remodel.

Here are five bathroom projects that offer a strong return on investment along with some tips on how to pay for them.

Midrange Bathroom Addition
Remodeling defines this project as adding a 6- by 8-foot bathroom with a 30- by 60-inch fiberglass shower-bathtub combination, a low-profile toilet, general and spot lighting, electrical wiring, a mirrored medicine cabinet, a linen closet, and a ceramic tile floor. This room also has a cultured-stone vanity top with a molded sink. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, a Madison-area homeowner will typically recoup about 72 percent of what they spend on a project like this one.

Upscale Bathroom Addition
Want to add a spa-like master bathroom you can enjoy before you sell your home? In the Madison area, you can expect to recover nearly 71 percent of what you spend, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. That’s about 20 percent more than homeowners elsewhere in the country, signaling that homebuyers in this area place a premium on washrooms that include luxury features, like a freestanding soaker tub with high-end faucets, a 42- by 42-inch shower with ceramic tile walls and body-spray fixtures, a stone countertop with two sinks, a compartmentalized commode area, and large ceramic tiles with electric in-floor heating.

Midrange Bathroom Remodel
You don’t need to build an extra bathroom to add significant value to your home. Update an existing 5- by 7-foot bathroom, incorporating a standard toilet, ceramic floor tiles, vinyl wallpaper, a recessed medicine cabinet with lighting, a solid-surface vanity counter with an integral sink, and a 30- by 60-inch porcelain-on-steel bathtub with a 4- by 4-inch ceramic tile surround and a single-lever temperature control. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, you’ll probably get back about 69 percent of the sum you spend. Purchase your materials at a great price and you could recoup even more.

Upscale Bathroom Remodel
If your home’s footprint can accommodate a 100-square-foot bathroom, going the luxury route may be in your best interest. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, expanding a 35-square-foot bathroom to this size and incorporating many of the same elements as the above-mentioned upscale bathroom addition can help you recoup more than 63 percent of your costs. When planning the details, you might want to consider a neo-angle shower with a frameless glass enclosure, a humidistat-controlled exhaust fan, and cabinetry with a custom drawer base.

Universal-Design Bathroom Remodel
Applying universal-design principles when remodeling a bathroom can also work in your favor. These principles aim to make a room function well for all people regardless of age, disability, and other factors that might influence how they move about or use the space. A project like this might involve making an existing 5- by 7-foot area wheelchair accessible with a zero-threshold, 36-inch-wide door and flat-panel electrical switches placed 36 to 42 inches above the floor so they can be reached by someone who is seated.

You could also swap an existing tub for a curbless walk-in shower with an adjustable showerhead, a fold-out seat, a bi-directional glass door, and a thermostatic mixing valve, then install a vanity with easy-grasp handles and an adjustable mirror plus nine additional towel bars that can support 250 pounds apiece. Finish with LED lights, a super-quiet vent fan with humidity-sensing controls, luxury vinyl flooring equipped with electric radiant heat, and other inspiring features and you’ll probably recoup about 60 percent of what you spend, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, your house will have added appeal for seniors and people with disabilities, who make up a significant portion of the homebuying market.

No matter what type of bathroom project you select, you’ll need a way to pay for it. According to Josh Fetting, consumer lending sales manager at UW Credit Union, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is likely to be your best bet. “A HELOC lets you borrow the right amount of money for your project at the right time, and just pay interest on what you borrow. That’s why it’s an excellent option for all kinds of home updates, including a bathroom addition or renovation.”

So don’t wait to get the bathroom you’ve always wanted, even if you plan on selling your home in a couple of years. It’ll be worth it.

Jessica Steinhoff writes about financial wellness for UW Credit Union, a not-for-profit financial institution that offers home-equity products, mortgages, auto loans, and more. See for details.

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Madison, WI 53705