Planning on Selling Your Home? Installing a New or Half-Bath Could Increase the Value

You're planning on listing your home in the not-to-distant future and are considering adding another bathroom to increase its resale value. One of the big questions is whether it's wiser to add a full or half bath. A lot will depend on the amount of space you have to work with and how many bathrooms your home already has.

The following has a brief definition of home remodeling compared to new construction, as well as descriptions of the full and half-bath options. Also included is an explanation of how a new bathroom could help increase the value of your home.

Definitions of Remodel vs. New Construction

Whether you are going to remodel an existing bathroom or build a new one from scratch, you are going to need permits from your city or county. Using the California State Board of Equalization's definition of new construction as an example, when you add a bathroom or alter an existing floor plan, that's new construction.

If you look in the City of Fremont, California's government website, you'll find that they refer to the above, and more, as a remodel.  Either way, you will need those permits to do the work legally. If you're hiring a contractor, that contractor takes care of the permits and arranges for the electrical, plumbing and other needed inspections.

 Full Bath or Half-Bath

Full baths can be as large as you want as long as they comfortably fit a vanity/sink, toilet and at least a bath/shower combination. If you have roughly 20 square feet to play with, that's enough for an average size half-bath. A half-bath needs only a sink and a toilet and enough room to move comfortably. Size and clearance dimensions are sometimes governed by local laws.

When Full Baths Work Best

If you have a three bedroom home with a master bath and a "Jack and Jill" full bath that's shared by the other two rooms, chances are adding that half-bath will work fine. But, if your three bedroom house only has one full-bath, your best bet for resale is to put in a second full-bath. Consider a potential buyer family of four having to get ready for school and work in the morning. You may have done it for years, but new buyers on the market just don't want to deal with "bathroom traffic." If you live in an older neighborhood, one bathroom per home was the norm a half-century ago. Chances are at least some of your neighbors have added that second bath for sanity's sake. Another thought, if your home is competing with others in your neighborhood for potential buyers, having a second full bath gives you an edge.

Going for the Half-Bath

Sometimes you don't have the space to put in that full bath. Craftsmen homes are sometimes like that. They are bungalow sized, with small rooms and sometimes odd layouts, but most people love them because they are quaint and well-made. Or maybe you have a beach cottage that's already maxed out for space. This is where converting closets into half-baths sometimes works. The space will be tiny, so you'll have to be careful with the type of fixtures you install.

One layout that works well is to have the toilet against the far wall and a small pedestal sink on the wall next to the entry way. When you enter the bathroom, you can't see the sink. Once you close the door you have enough space to use what's needed. The pedestal sink also gives you enough space for a floor sitting toilet paper holder and a small trash can to hide behind the door.

Getting a Return on Your Investment

According to the National Association of Realtors, their "2015 Remodeling Impact Report" showed that while adding a half bath increases the return on investment, or ROI, by an average of 10 per cent, those that sprung for a full bath saw an average value increase of 20 per cent. There are exceptions, like a mid-range bathroom addition that cost $50,000 to complete and recovered 52 percent of its value. The space measured 6-foot by 9-foot, which is comfortable but not huge. Homeowners who used this same bathroom footprint and stayed in their homes also gave the layout a perfect Joy Score, 10 out of 10, on that same impact report.

Going green is also a plus.  Energy efficient fixtures and appliances are sometimes more expensive, but cities and states often offer rebate programs for you to take advantage of. Consider installing low-flow shower-heads and low-flush toilets. Having a green bathroom also increases your ROI because potential buyers usually receive lower utility bills.