Of all the remodeling projects you undertake, an upgrade to the bathroom can provide the highest return on investment — if done properly.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs Value report, you’ll recoup 67.2 percent of your cost on a mid-range bathroom remodel, ranking it among the highest ROI for interior renovations. (Exterior projects like roof replacements and new garage doors rank highest overall because of curb appeal and buyer’s peace of mind regarding maintenance and upkeep.)
Perhaps that’s why the National Association of Realtors Research Group reported that the most popular interior project for all renovators was a bathroom renovation.
In its 2019 Remodeling Impact Report: DIY, the association said that 64 percent of respondents hired a professional to add a new bathroom, while just 51 percent of those who were renovating an existing bathroom hired a professional.
Whether you hire a professional or tackle the job yourself, there are a number of factors to consider when approaching a bathroom remodel.
Chief among them: your neighborhood.
If your house has one bathroom, you might consider adding a half or full bath rather than remodeling your existing bathroom, especially if you’re looking to sell. Buyers are far more likely to overlook dated features than they are to overlook the lack of that additional bathroom. Function over form, in this case.
You also need to evaluate the style and price point of surrounding houses. One mistake many people make is to over-improve; it’s fine to have the nicest house in the neighborhood, but you don’t want it to be out of place, either. A $75,000 bathroom in a neighborhood of modest $150,000 ranch homes will never provide you the ROI you seek.
The general recommendation for a kitchen remodel, according to Remodeling Magazine, is to spend no more than 15% of your home’s value. For a bathroom remodel, the recommendation is about half that. For anyone keeping an eye on resale, comps rule the day.
Here are some ideas for a remodel that should keep you on budget so you maximize your ROI, as well as make the room pop:
- New vanity and mirror. Walk into any bathroom and these are the first features you typically notice, particularly if they’re dated. You can buy solid wood vanities and updated mirrors (or medicine cabinets) at a reasonable price and change the entire look of the bathroom.
- New lighting. Again, for a minor expense, you can swap out your lights and completely upgrade the look of the entire bathroom. Get rid of the brass, for example!
- New toilet. Nothing screams “old” like a small, round toilet. Today’s models include elongated bowls and stand higher than those of years past. You can also consider higher-efficiency models that use less water when they flush. Any of these options can be purchased and installed for a few hundred bucks and make a substantial impact.
- New shower head. Consider upgrading to a massaging head or other shower head that appears luxurious. Buyers notice.
- Update the tub. Like the toilet, bathtubs of the past were smaller and not as deep. If you’re going to keep the tub — some people like to swap it out entirely for a walk-in shower — then consider a more modern version that’s wider and deeper.
- Consider a walk-in shower. This again depends on your market. If your house appeals to families, you probably want to keep at least one bathtub in the house. But if your market is Baby Boomers and retirees, think about taking the tub out entirely and putting in a walk-in shower.
- Paint. Like anywhere else in the house, a fresh coat of paint can improve the look of the whole room.
- Install tile or stone. For whatever reason, many older houses favored carpet everywhere, including the bathrooms.Modernize it by installing tile, laminate, or stone.
Of course, it’s important to remember that the rest of the house should be in excellent condition. Your prospective buyer won’t care about that beautiful vanity if the basement is leaking or if the roof needs to be replaced.
But with proper research and planning, the money you spend to remodel a bathroom can pay big dividends, not only in resale value but also in the speed of the sale.