Debbie  Lamberger

Debbie Lamberger

Licensed Real Estate Professional/Real Estate Consultant

HomeLife Advantage Realty Ltd.

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Bathroom Renovations and ROI


ROI (Return on Investment)

If you’re looking to get the maximum return on the renovations that you make on your home, there’s no better place to concentrate your efforts than on the bathroom.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost Vs. Value Report, a midrange bathroom remodel recoups 70.1 percent of its cost.It’s understood that a bathroom’s renovation more than pays for itself. While sinking $10k for average bathroom remodels and $26k for an upscale renovation into a bathroom may seem like a needless expense to selling your home to potential homebuyers, the most high-trafficked part(s) of your home (what day don’t you use the bathroom?) is very important to the decision-making process—and to your home’s value.

An immaculate, modern bathroom communicates consciously and subconsciously to the comfort, style, and most important to the seller of the home, of the value that the rest of home contains. Nothing is more off-putting than an outdated, dysfunctional bathroom—especially considering the high costs and headaches associated with water damage and mold growth.

Determining your budget (monetary AND time-wise) beforehand is a sound way to ensure that your bathroom renovations don’t get out of hand. For smaller budgets, you may be limited to only cosmetic improvements, like updated fixtures or a new sink. Larger budgets can accommodate makeovers that exponentially increase the home’s value, like a larger shower, new windows, and artisan tiling.

Of course, contributing your own “sweat equity” to your home’s renovations can save you money off of projects, so determine which projects you can handle and which ones are best left to professional contractors. If you decide on hiring on contractors, be sure to have a fixed plan in place and not deviate from.

You may want to have a six-month plan ahead of time to ensure that things go smoothly, as most bathroom renovations last on average between 2 – 3 months.

As it is with most bathroom projects, costs and expectations can quickly get out of hand, especially when homeowners are eager to sell their homes. Be forewarned that contractors are aware of these complications (i.e. work stoppages, alterations to original plans), with some including clauses in their contracts that charge premiums for changing the original work plans that both parties agreed to.

That being said, let’s take a look at various aspects of the bathroom and see what types of renovations can add more value to your home for homebuyers.


Choosing the right bathtub for your master bathroom is worth considering. Some homebuyers feel that a bathtub takes up too much space, which may be true for smaller bathrooms.

For those that prefer accessibility (i.e. mobility-impaired individuals), a bathtub may be a deal-breaker; for those that prefer elegance, a clawfoot tub may be appealing.

Sinks and Countertops

One way to add a large amount of value to your bathroom is to focus on the countertops and the sink. One popular trend is to invest in a stone countertop.

Typically, bathroom countertops tend to be smaller than kitchen counters, so you can spend a significantly smaller amount and still get a desirable spa-like quality.

One strategy for saving money AND adding value is to purchase a slab that contains imperfections. If you make sure that the imperfection is masked by the sink that will be placed in/on the stone surface, you get the best of both worlds.

It also helps to think creatively. One common trend for DIYers is to take an old dresser and mount a sink on the top as a pedestal, or recess the sink on the top counter, creating an elegant solution. This is useful, too, if you’re struggling to find adequate cabinet space (see below) to fit the look of your bathroom.

Don’t forget to update the faucet if it’s within your budget. Attractive metals like stainless steel or polished nickel can bring an extra oomph to your bathroom. However, be sure that the hardware matches the faucets, or your bathroom might have a hodge-podge feel that might ward off more finicky buyers.

Finally, you can make your bathroom even more attractive to new couples by offering his and hers sinks.

Cabinets & Storage

Bathrooms offer a challenge for homeowners in terms of storage. After installing a sink, bathtub, toilet, and a shower, there still needs to be places to store hygiene items and towels.

Plus, these storage solutions must be aesthetically-pleasing to potentially homebuyers, so it can be a balancing act.

However, there are a number of solutions to take into consideration with the amount available space:

· Vertical: Most bathrooms don’t utilize the upper wall space, leaving these spaces inexplicably barren.

To remedy this, try installing multi-tiered shelving units in strategic places, with towels within easy reach of the bath/shower.

Alternatively, offered recessed spaces between wall studs can create useful spaces for holding smaller items.

· Moveable: Using baskets or hampers for items can make the most of spaces where cabinets cannot fit.

Be sure these moveable additions to the bathroom match the décor of the bathroom, even if they are not included with the sale of the house.

As for the cabinets, be sure that the materials are up to date and not reflective of current trends, as these can work against a seller if these fall out of favor. Make sure that the colors of the cabinets are neutral or are made of a moisture-resistant wood appropriate for the bathroom.


Having an attractive and functional shower is a great way to attract homebuyers, who may imagine luxurious and refreshing daily rituals when they purchase the home. Frameless glass shower enclosures enhance the spa-like feel of the atmosphere, match just about any color scheme, and are more appealing than flimsy plastic enclosures.

Don’t forget to who will be purchasing your home when renovating your shower.

There are a number of options out on the market, but it certainly helps to update the showerheads in accordance with the type of homebuyers you’d like to appeal to. For potential owners under 45, multiple showerheads are a go-to choice.

For older homebuyers, hand showers that can assist seated individuals may be best. Seating also plays a factor for the elderly and infirm, who prefer to have some resistance when showering.


Bathroom tile can be one of the more expensive things to renovate, so it pays to be deliberate in your choices. One smart way to save money is to limit tile strategically, focusing only on the floor instead of the entire floor (i.e. inside the shower stall).

Another clever trick is to use the expensive tile as an accent, mixing it along with cheaper tile to save money, but also highlight the more-costly tile in comparison. Because of the cost, you may want to align all of your renovations in accordance with the tile’s color and attributes.

Remember that if you’re also considering the installation of a heated floor that tearing up your floor again can be needlessly expensive.

Bathroom Ventilation

There’s more to remodeling your bathroom than meets the eye. While it may nice to have a window to open after a steamy shower, consider this an “old” solution. The focus on modernity is automation and efficiency, so if your bathroom doesn’t have a modern ventilation system, consider installing one as a top priority.

Moisture from excess humidity fogs mirrors, makes the floor especially slippery, and creates a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Having moisture under control is absolutely vital to ensure that not only are the physical hazards minimized (ex. slipping on wet tile), but also the quality of the air and the damage that can result from mold and rot.

Make sure that the ventilation system exhausts air to the outside of the home, not the space between the joists of the ceiling (or other interior space).

Consider ventilation systems on the market that contain features like quiet exhaust fans and humidity-sensitive switches that automatically activate when moisture build-up in the air reaches a threshold.


One way to spruce up your bathroom at a fraction of the cost of more labor-intensive renovations is to take a look at how your bathroom is lit. Lighting around your vanity mirrors can bring a luxurious feel to everyday grooming.

Adjustable lighting for soaking in the tub can create a relaxing atmosphere to the bathroom, as well. Some light fixtures offer heat lamps that can create a mini-sauna for the bathroom that can work in conjunction with your ventilation systems (see above).

And as a general rule, avoiding dark spaces and cheap/inadequate lighting adds value for potential homebuyers.


Similar to lighting, one of the more inexpensive and effective ways to spruce up your bathroom is to invest in a few cans of fresh paint.

Pay careful attention to how you paint if you choose to go DIY, however; attention to detail is critical and a few blobs of paint on the tub, sink, and so forth can degrade the improvements you’ve made.

Also, be sure to find a high quality, mold-resistant paint that can ward off mold growth. And don’t forget to paint the ceiling, where hard-to-clean surfaces can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew.

Update the Fixtures

The little details do matter, especially under the scrutiny of those who view your home.

This includes the light fixtures, door knobs, towel racks, cabinet handles and so forth, all which can rust and degrade from the constant atmosphere of moisture and use.

Caulk and Grout

Similar to a fresh coat of paint, paying attention to the fine details can bring a new look to your bathroom at a minimal cost. Cleaning grout may be tedious, but restoring its original hue can make the surrounding elements “pop.”

The same goes for caulk—a tube of caulk is relatively inexpensive. A fresh application of caulk, especially clear or matching-white colors, not only brings out the other elements, but also prevents moisture from eroding the structure of the bathroom.

Going Green

No, we’re not talking about painting everything in your bathroom green. We’re talking about the trend of going green, or making your bathroom more environmentally sound.

More and more homebuyers are looking to find homes that only feature ethically-sourced materials and conserve resources (water, power, etc.), but also help save money.

There’s a number of ways to go green, some of which include:

·  Low-flow sinks, toilets, and showerheads. They can typically be found for the same—or less—cost than traditional    models.

· Automatic light switches. Some models adjust the amount of light based on the amount of daylight or if there’s an occupant in the room. These are great for forgetful people!

· Purchasing used or repurposing materials. Nothing is greener than recycling old materials, like a vintage clawfoot bathtub, as you reduce consumption.

Thrift stores often have an assortment of used/reclaimed furnishing that not only have a vintage appeal, but are also sold well below similar types of new fixtures.



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