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Q & A with America’s real estate professor: Bathroom addition

Zillow • Aug 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Bathroom Addition

Q. I’m thinking about adding a bathroom to my 3-bedroom 1.5-bathroom house. How much is a ballpark figure for the addition and how much value would it add to the house? Marvin J. Oklahoma City, Ohio.

A. Great question, but tough to answer, except to say get some bids from licensed contractors. Here are some basics to consider.

Can you add the bathroom within the existing footprint of the house? Where in the property can you carve off a 5ish-foot by 7ish-foot space? It is going to be significantly less expensive if you don’t have to add square footage to the exterior of the house.

Also, is there a crawl space under your house so it will be relatively easy to add the drainage plumbing, or are they going to have to break up the slab and pour new concrete to cover the hole? And is there plumbing near the selected location, so it would be close to an existing bathroom and the water supply lines (bringing in water) and the drain/sewer lines can be more easily connected to your new bathroom?

Just guessing on the cost, and I don’t know how much things cost in Oklahoma, but probably minimum $8,000 for a bathroom added inside the existing structure, if on a crawl space, with plumbing nearby, and only basic drawings required by the city and reasonable permit and other fees. This could easily jump to $40,000 or more with a long distance to plumbing lines, if adding onto the structure, breaking into the concrete slab, creating architectural drawings, and new school or water meter fees. Don’t forget either way your property taxes are probably going to increase, but hopefully not too much.

The added value really depends, but the reality is that few improvements add more value to a property than the cost of those improvements. You’d have to have a real estate agent or appraiser do a comparable market analysis to other similar, nearby, and recently closed sales transactions to see the difference between your current property and the value with an additional bathroom.

If you are planning to stay in the house and enjoy the new bathroom for years, go for it. If you are thinking the improvement will add value and make you additional profits in a sale, I’d tread cautiously.

Real Estate Purchase Contract

Q. I’m a first-time homebuyer and found a house I love. I had to hurry and sign my contract. I understood the rushed process, since my agent said there would be many offers on the property, but I hardly read and understood the contract terms and it makes me mad that I didn’t have more time to review it. So I just wanted to ask you to inform your readers to make sure and read the contract. Marcie T., Savannah, Ga.

A. You are not alone in being frustrated about not having the time to review your contract. I hear this all the time – people rushed by their real estate sales professional to sign quickly and not having any idea what they are signing.

I believe real estate agents should shoulder some blame for this, but the buyers must take some responsibility too. If you are making such an expensive, risky and complex purchase, it’s up to you to ask lots of questions and request to see the paperwork you will be signing, before it is time to sign. And here’s a warning for you. Make sure to see all the paperwork on everything – the mortgage, the HOA, the title insurance and the dwelling insurance. There’s a lot of paperwork to review!

So I do appreciate your alerting us to this issue, and I hope that going forward readers will request to review the paperwork they will be signing – a long time before they execute the documents for a purchase. Thank you for your guidance and good luck with your purchase.

Leonard Baron, MBA, is America’s Real Estate Professor®. His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches real estate owners how to make smart and safe purchase decisions. He is a San Diego State University lecturer, blogs at Zillow.com, and loves kicking the tires of a good piece of dirt! More at ProfessorBaron.com. Email your questions to: Leonard@ProfessorBaron.com

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