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A Bonus Bath

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By Lindsey Getz

Adding a bathroom can be a valuable addition to your home. Whether you live in an older home that has limited bathrooms or you’re just looking to add one in a more convenient location, an extra bathroom can make life easier.

Of course, adding a bathroom is not necessarily an easy feat. Doug Mottershead,  CKD, design specialist with McHales, says that there are so many factors that come into play that can either make a bathroom addition a simple project or something that is complicated and therefore costly. This is a topic Mottershead  can speak of personally since he added a half bath and two full baths to his three-story Victorian. He says that adding a bath is a frequent request, but the feasibility isn’t always so simple.

 “The key factor is the proximity to plumbing,” Mottershead says. “We need to look at how feasible a bathroom addition  is from a plumbing standpoint.”  

If there’s no access to a drain line, adding a bathroom can get complicated. Mike Reisbord, vice president of Diamond  Kitchen & Bath, says that it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it can get costly and might lead you to rethink location. 

 “Whenever you can opt to remodel a bathroom—such as making a half bath into a full bath—it’s generally a smaller undertaking and less costly,” Reisbord says. “But adding a bathroom is certainly a nice addition, if you have a good location to make it work.”

There are more logical or obvious places to add a bathroom.

 “Adding a bathroom adjacent to another bathroom—or above or below another bathroom—is the most logical location due to plumbing lines in the same location,”  adds Mark McCouch, co-owner  of AllMarks Home Solutions. “That makes accessibility easier and more cost effective.”

With an older home, McCouch says a bathroom addition can become more expensive because original plumbing may not be up to code or may require replacement.   

 “We may find lead pipes that cannot be used anymore and need to be replaced,” he says, as an example. “Breaking through older walls made with plaster can also add additional cost in an older home. A good contractor will examine the home and location of the current plumbing to determine what problems may be found and give the homeowner sound advice on the cost and value of doing the project.”  

WHERE TO ADD
There are many places in the home where people consider adding a bathroom. But basements tend to be one of the more popular locations. Reisbord says that if you’re having a basement finished then adding a bathroom makes a lot of sense.

 “You’ll be spending more time down there and will likely want a bathroom on that level,” he says.  

If you have a pool and a walk-out basement, adding a bathroom in the basement can also prevent  your family and friends from traipsing through the house wet, adds Mottershead.  

Wendy Amiano, vice president of Amiano & Son Construction, says that it’s not uncommon for homeowners to use extra space in a basement for an office or guest quarters and later regret that they never added a bathroom.

 “Going up and down stairs tends to get annoying to most homeowners,” she says. “Adding a  bathroom in the basement also provides a great resale value for those looking to move aging parents into their homes.”  

Aging in place—or “universal design”—is a big consideration for bathroom additions in general, adds Amiano. She says it’s a key reason why a lot of people are considering the addition of a first-floor bathroom to their home. Many homeowners are also converting half baths into full baths on the first floor, so they can stay in the home as they age.  

Amiano says to think about the “intention” behind the bathroom as you think about its

location.  “For example, kids or a husband who comes home dirty from work every day, or a person who has trouble going up and down the steps, those reasons make a first-floor bathroom make a lot of sense,” Amiano explains.  

While there are certainly reasons why some locations make more sense than others, any place where there’s a real need for a bathroom will make it a valuable addition.  

David Cerami, certified kitchen and bath designer and president of HomeTech Renovations, agrees. He says that value is so often thought of in terms of resale, but unless you’re actually planning to sell in the near future, you might think more about fulfilling needs.

 “If you’re going to be in your home for another 10 or more years and you are sharing a bathroom with your kids, there’s obviously tremendous value in adding a bathroom now—for you,” he says. “We shouldn’t just think about value in terms of resale, but also in how it improves our lives. An additional bathroom can make a big difference in a home that really needs it.”    

 “Convenience is huge,” agrees Chris Fontana, co-owner of Magnolia Home Remodeling. “For a large family that is sharing one or two bathrooms, adding one more is worth its weight in gold.”  

WHAT TO ADD
In terms of materials, it’s really a personal preference. The contractors we spoke with say they certainly see a mix of high-end bathroom additions and relatively basic ones. Generally speaking, unless it’s a master bathroom, many homeowners do tend to keep it on the simpler side. Nice fixtures and tile can go a really long way in creating a beautiful space that meets homeowners’ needs, says Reisbord.  

 “Most of the time people are looking to keep the cost down with less-expensive material choices—but that’s not to say it can’t look really nice,” he adds. “It’s just rare that people go with a luxury bathroom unless it’s a master.”  

 “It’s all relative to the individual homeowner,” says Fontana. “We’re certainly seeing clients spend more on fixtures and tile to make a bathroom addition suit their taste. But there are so many options out there that we can accommodate different budgets.”  

Amiano agrees it’s a personal choice.

 “Think about personal enjoyment,” she says. “If you are not  moving in the next few years, then create a space that you will truly enjoy and want to use. Life is short and there are no guarantees. If you want a return on investment for every single thing that you do, then you will always limit yourself.”  

WORKING WITH A PROFESSIONAL
There’s no question that there’s a lot involved in adding a bathroom—perhaps  more than you even considered. Working with a professional will help guide you.  

Cerami adds that it’s important  to talk through all of these factors with a design professional. They will have ideas on  everything from feasibility to materials, all while keeping your budget in mind.  

 “A professional design firm can evaluate your situation and help you devise the best solutions,”  he says. “They might even have ideas you wouldn’t have thought about.”  

Working with a professional will help you determine what makes most sense for your space, Mottershead agrees.

 “I think it’s a really great idea to add a bathroom, but you should talk to a professional designer to determine the feasibility  before getting too far along,” he says. “They’ll be able to walk you through the entire process and help you make educated decisions.”

RESOURCES

AllMarks Home Solutions
Montgomery County, Pa.
(215) 990-6586
AllMarksHS.com

Amiano & Son Construction
Tabernacle, N.J. | (609) 268-5923
AmianoAndSon.com

Diamond Kitchen & Bath
Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
(215) 752-4400
DiamondKB.com

HomeTech Renovations, Inc.
Fort Washington, Pa. | (215) 987-4092
HTRenovations.com

Magnolia Home
Remodeling Group
Serving North and Central New Jersey | (855) 624-6655
MagnoliaHomeRemodeling.com

McHales, Inc.
Levittown, Pa. | (215) 488-7306
McHalesKitchenAndBath.com

 

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 18, Issue 10 (April 2018). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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