Is Your Bathroom Improvement Project Worth It?

Written by bprescottFebruary 1, 2012
A luxurious bathroom

Deciding If It’s Worth It

Remodeling magazine, owned by Hanley-Wood, LLC, publishes an annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” which you can find at This annual survey compares the cost of a typical remodeling project with the value of the property after the completion of the project if the house were sold, for whatever reason, a year later. The figures used in this section are a national average, but you'll find figures adjusted for different regions of the country at the magazine’s Web site.

Bathroom improvement projects are consistently at the top of the “Cost vs. Value” report. According to the 2002 report,” the cost recouped for a $9,720 bathroom remodel by a professional remodeler was $8,506, or 88 percent. This project was for updating an existing bathroom that is at least 25 years old. The work included installing a standard-size tub with ceramic tile surround, toilet, solid-surface vanity counter with integral double sink, recessed medicine cabinet, ceramic tile floor, and vinyl wallpaper.

The cost recouped on a $15,058 bathroom addition was $14,180, or 94 percent. The project was adding a full 6-x-8-foot bath to a house with one or one and a half baths. The new bathroom was located within the existing footprint of the home near the bedrooms. The materials included cultured-marble vanity top, molded sink, standard tub/shower with ceramic tile surround, low-profile toilet, general and spot lighting, mirrored medicine cabinet, linen storage, vinyl wallpaper, and ceramic tile floor.

This large payback reflects the value of an additional bathroom in a house. Maybe someday bathrooms will be like closets and come with every bedroom in a house. (If you look at any new model homes, that’s certainly the case.)

Can you expect to recover at least 80 percent of the money you put into your bathroom remodeling project? Yes and no. (You knew we’d say that!) Here’s some advice to help you spend your money wisely:

  • Be careful not to overimprove your house with the project. Every neighborhood has houses that are valued within a certain range. If the cost of the project raises the selling price of your home way above the other houses in the neighborhood, you can’t expect an 80 percent or better return on your investment.
  • Make sure that the overall design of the project is good and fits the house. The design and scope of an addition must fit and complement the rest of the house. Building a high-end master bathroom next to a small attic bedroom that is served only by the back stairs will not return its value.
  • Make sure that the materials and workmanship are quality and that workmanship meets all national and local building codes. All remodeling work must meet code. Homes sold today must pass inspections, and poor-quality materials and sloppy or bad workmanship will be pointed out during the inspection. A botched remodeling project can actually lower the value of your house.

The “Cost vs. Value Report” assumes that the house is sold in a year, so unless you’re in the home renovation business and plan to sell the house right away, the immediate return on your investment isn’t as important as the satisfaction and convenience your new bathroom will provide to you and your family. If you use quality materials, the improvements will look great and perform for years. During that time, the value of your house and its new bathroom will appreciate.

From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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