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Bathrooms are deal breakers (or makers) in a home sale, and buyers will place a hard minimum on their number of desired baths. But how does a bathroom remodel increase home value? A bathroom remodel in 2022 can increase a home’s value by as much as 53%-58% of what is spent on the renovation. Some remodels might even recoup up to 71% of your costs upon resale.
Quite simply, a bathroom remodel won’t necessarily recoup at resale everything you spent to update it, but it is one of the higher-return projects that you can do. Anecdotally, a brand new bathroom also helps inspire offers on your house, and updates to this space could help you add 10-40% more value to your home with the average added value being 20%.
The catch is that every little decision you make (from gutting the tub to the marble pattern of your tile) can have significant impact on your return. We looked to top real estate pros and experienced contractors for their best advice on how to tackle a bathroom remodel with an eye on the return on investment (ROI).
The average cost of a bathroom remodel
How much your bathroom remodel costs will be based on a few different elements: labor costs, the materials and timeframe, and the extent of the renovation.
Aaron Glenn, owner of the highly-rated interior remodeling firm Total Home Improvement in Grayslake, Illinois, has done bathroom remodels ranging from $12,000 for minor upgrades to upscale remodels for $90,000.
Remodeling’s 2022 “Cost vs. Value Report” shows that a mid-range bathroom remodel generally costs about $27,164, and an upscale remodel costs about $82,8822.
In 2020, the average bathroom remodel cost $13,400 and ranked first in 2021’s most planned remodeling projects for homeowners according to HomeAdvisor’s “True Cost Report.” However, this number may vary due to pandemic-induced material shortages, supply chain issues, and location.
Keep in mind, though, that there are cheaper options to upgrade your bathroom, including painting the walls, updating fixtures, adding crown molding, installing posh shelving, and recaulking the bathtub and tiles. And smaller bathrooms will naturally tend to cost less to remodel than larger ones.
Recouping your bathroom remodel expenses
According to Remodeling’s “Cost vs. Value” 2022 report, a bathroom remodel can recoup around 53% to 58% of the cost put into the project.
The biggest factors of a bathroom remodel that can increase a home’s value include updating worn-out items, modernizing fixtures, and creating a more functional space.
The bathroom remodel “joy factor”
According to the National Association of Realtors® 2022 “Remodeling Impact Report,” 73% of homeowners wanted to be in their homes more after remodeling a bathroom and 61% experienced an increase in enjoyment of their home after a bathroom remodeling.
A bathroom renovation earned a Joy Score of 9.6 out of 10, and a new bathroom addition ranked at 8.2. Joy Scores indicate how happy someone is with a project they’ve done in their home — the higher the number, the higher the satisfaction level. In this way, a bathroom remodel increases home value from an emotional standpoint for homeowners.
The report also estimates that bathroom renovations recoup approximately 71% of their costs in value added to the home while adding a new bathroom recoups 63% of its cost.
Top 3 bathroom projects with the best ROI
Want to remodel your bathroom but don’t have the budget to completely gut it and start fresh? These three smaller projects will get you the best return on your investment.
According to Glenn, this is one of the best projects to do for the biggest return regarding a bathroom remodel increasing home value. But it may be a bit more expensive than the others. He says that updating the vanity will generally include the countertops, faucet, and sink, which can eat up a lot of your budget.
Most homebuyers are looking for vanities that hit a comfortable height and have granite countertops, so pay close attention to your material costs. Further, bathroom renovations that allow partners to get ready simultaneously, particularly double-sink vanities, were on 29.6% of homeowners’ “to-renovate” lists, largely due to couples staying home more often because of the increase of remote work. HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report also reports that a double vanity was 2021’s number one desired bathroom upgrade, and 65% of surveyed agents say that this upgrade appeals to buyers.
Replacing the flooring will go the farthest in giving your bathroom a new overall appearance. Inexpensive porcelain or ceramic tiles, or even vinyl, can be engineered to look like classic wood or stone but are still completely waterproof and durable to any level of moisture. For less than $150 per 6 feet of mat, you can also install radiant-heat mats underneath your bathroom flooring of choice, which can be an attractive feature for buyers in colder climates.
Particularly with a main bathroom, the current trend is to pull out the bathtub and install a larger, walk-in shower. Door-less showers are in vogue as are “statement showers.” Soaking tubs are still a valuable option if there’s space, but whirlpool jet bathtubs are on the decline and may not help a bathroom remodel increase home value. Glenn explains that the reasoning behind removing the tub is that homeowners only use it a few times a year as opposed to using the shower every day. Still, definitely don’t remove all the tubs from the house.
How to keep costs low during your remodel
Find the right materials for your bathroom remodel
Your bathroom costs will vary based on the materials you use, the type of products being installed, and the required labor for any installation. A steam shower and heated tile floor, for example, will be substantially more expensive on both fronts than a standard walk-in shower and laminate floors.
“The cost of materials will vary whether you’re going with an expensive European brand or a generic American brand,” Glenn adds. “There are different materials, too. Luxury tiles or flooring can be much more expensive to install than a laminate floor, but it’s going to give you almost the same look. Different products can be installed that can give you a phenomenal look at a much lower cost. Shop around. Don’t go with the super cheap stuff, but keep the cost down by going with cheaper, reliable brands.”
DIY the design rather than pay upfront fees
To save on costs, it’ll help to go into the remodel process knowing exactly what you want.
Some contractors charge a fee to design the bathroom for you, but if you go the more DIY route and pick out materials yourself, then you could save a bundle.
For colors, stick to 1) a warm, timeless white, 2) a natural, calming gray, or 3) something with a soft pop of color for the best resale value.
If the bathroom is in relatively good shape, then consider DIY-ing some of the tasks, including: changing out faucets and fixtures, repainting any vinyl floors, repainting the walls, removing/replacing glass shower doors, replacing the toilet, brightening the grout, freshening up the caulk, adding a peel and stick backsplash, and replacing any water-damaged baseboards. The key is that the bathroom should be clean, tidy, updated when applicable, and feel like a spa oasis.
Hire the best contractor for the job
Certain tasks of a bathroom remodel are likely best left to the pros, including electrical work, waterproofing, and structural changes.
Glenn notes that one of the most effective cost-saving measures is to vet potential contractors. Don’t pick one out of a hat and go with them for no real reason.
This is especially important in light of the reality that contract work is only getting more expensive.
“Reach out to a couple people to get a better understanding of different companies, what they can offer, and how they work,” he said. “When looking at an individual contractor or company, take a look at the knowledge and expertise of that company. Take a look at what the company can offer. It’s not always the same.”
For Houzz, navigate to the “Kitchen & Bath Remodelers” section of the “Find Professionals” dropdown. The site should recognize your location and give you a list of nearby companies.
You can expand your search to other areas, too. Each one will have a star rating, reviews, and photos of past projects for you to peruse. You can contact them straight from the website.
To navigate Angie, type in your search, and then you’ll go through a list of questions to determine your location, the changes you want, where you are in the process, the desired completion timing, funding, and more details about the building.
At the end of the questions, you can either have a matched list emailed to you or browse a directory. You’ll instantly see a list of Angie-certified contractors.
Click on one and you’ll be taken to a profile with contact information, services offered, and reviews.
Finally, make sure to stay organized with all of your appraisals. When you choose your contractors, be sure to keep track of all contracts, warranties, invoices, and total money spent.
How to make every dollar of your bathroom remodel count
All in all, although you’re not guaranteed to get back every penny you spend on a bathroom remodel at resale, a fresh, updated bathroom will get buyers’ attention, will likely increase your home’s value, and bring joy to you while you enjoy the space as a homeowner.
Keep it simple and inexpensive rather than going crazy with the highest-end finishes, and it will be a project you won’t regret.
However, if you’re looking to sell in a few months or even a year’s time, talk to a real estate agent before you make any major improvements. Oftentimes, it’s better to save your money by fixing minor repairs that would get flagged during a home inspection and then put up the for-sale sign, rather than drag out your listing with last-minute renovations.
Header Image Source: (Steven Ungermann / Unsplash)
- "Top Home Renovations of 2021," Real Simple (November 2021)
- "How much value does a bathroom add in 2022?," Badeloft Luxury Bathrooms (February 2022)
- "2022 COST VS VALUE REPORT," Remodeling (2022)
- "2022 Remodeling Impact Report," National Association of Realtors Research Group (April 2022)
- "Top Agent Insights Q4 2020 Report," HomeLight (June 2022)