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By Peter Taylor-Whiffen

Shower power

An extra bathroom can add real value to your home – if you do it right. How do you ensure your investment doesn’t go down the drain?

It’s traditionally referred to as the smallest room in the house, but adding an extra bathroom may have a positive impact on your property’s value.

Upping the number of WC/bath/shower spaces can add 5% to your property’s price tag, according to the Nationwide House Price Index, which means about £12,000 on the average UK home with a value of £228,147 (source: Office for National Statistics).

“An additional bathroom will not only increase the value of a property, it will also make it immediately more saleable,” says Peter Sherrard, founder of Property Price Advice. “In a busy family home, a second bathroom is essential, especially during the morning rush hour. Increasingly, buyers are expecting that extra facility; in a house with four or more bedrooms, they don’t expect to have to queue up in the morning to have a shower.

“Buyers turn down houses because there aren’t enough bathrooms – they don’t reject them because there are too many.”

So can you make a second bathroom work for you? Unless you’re planning an extension – which may add value anyway – the first move is to find space in your existing property that will comfortably and practically accommodate another bathroom.
 

Create an ensuite

“Creating, say, an en suite can be a great use of space – but planning is everything,” says Sherrard.

“There’s no point building it if it eats too much into your bedroom space, or leaves it too cramped. And if you make that mistake, you could end up reducing your property’s value and make selling it harder, not easier.”

A Jack-and-Jill bathroom – which sits between two bedrooms and is accessed by a door from each – needs careful consideration. “It can be a fantastic solution,” advises Diane Garnett, owner of Berkshire-based bathroom experts Ripples. “As a shared bathroom, it would typically have the one toilet, bath and/or shower, but we would recommend installing two bathroom sinks as there are instances when two people would be happy to use it at the same time for washing or cleaning their teeth.

“But it will need a lockable door to each bedroom – and for those using it to remember to lock them both. Also, anyone who doesn’t sleep in the adjoining rooms has to walk through someone’s bedroom to get to the bathroom.”
 

Convert a bedroom

What would you rather have: five bedrooms and one bathroom, or four bedrooms and two bathrooms? “If that small fifth bedroom is superfluous, you could convert it,” says Ian Westerling, vice president of NAEA Propertymark, the estate agents’ professional body.

 

“Buyers turn down houses because there aren’t enough bathrooms – they don’t reject them because there are too many”

Peter Sherrard, founder, Property Price Advice

 

“Two bathrooms serving four bedrooms will be attractive to some buyers and make the house more saleable to more people. But the actual value of the house will almost always be adversely affected by the loss of a fifth bedroom.”
 

Lofty ambitions

A loft conversion to include a bedroom (or two) and a bathroom might be worth considering, and the Nationwide House Price Index says it could add 20% to your home’s value.

“If it has minimal visual impact, you probably won’t need planning permission either,” says Natasha Brinsmead, associate editor of Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. “But it’s also the costliest option – a loft conversion should be done by professionals, will need to comply with building regulations and will cost anywhere from £500 to £600 per square metre. Be mindful also that you’ll need to accommodate a staircase to it somewhere in the main house, which could impact on existing bedroom space.”
 

Under the stairs

This really would be the smallest room – but it can prove the best solution in terms of using dead space. “Creative design, by using three-quarter suites, placing the toilet at the lowest point and having wall-hung fixtures to maximise floor space can give you a stylish and effective extra toilet – and many understairs voids are large enough to include a shower,” says Brinsmead.

“As for ventilation, a new loo might simply need a nearby opening window, but a new bath or shower will require an extractor fan.”
 

Practicalities

When siting your new facilities, you need to consider waste and ventilation – positioning above or below the existing bathroom to access the soil stack is the cheapest option, but macerators can pump waste to a stack several metres away – including upwards.

“Macerators allow you to install a loo virtually anywhere you fancy,” says Robert Wood, owner of London-based home extension specialists Simply Extend. “But they are noisier than standard sewage systems.”
 

All white now

Whoever thought an avocado bath suite was a good idea? “Bathrooms should be light and bright,” says Brinsmead.

“Clean and simple lines work best, which means plain white suites – they’ll have the broadest appeal and give you a wider choice of fittings for the cheapest price.”
 

Where’s the value?

It’s worth bearing in mind that to a prospective buyer, certain features of the room are worth more than others. Quality floor and wall tiles – with good grouting – are the most attractive and valuable feature, according to a survey of designers and estate agents by Lincolnshire bathroom specialist ShowersToYou. Next on the list is an electric or power shower and good-sized fixtures. But a word to the wise – underfloor heating adds little financial value, according to the experts surveyed.

So it may not be necessary to spend a pretty penny to add real value to your home. But, asserts Sherrard, good design and planning are absolutely crucial.

“As with any improvements,” he warns, “if you have an eye on adding value for a sale, ensure they are not too personalised or lavish because this can put buyers off. What you need ultimately is a property that is flexible enough for buyers to adapt to their own needs.”