Renovating a Bathroom? Three Ideas You May Not Have Thought Of

A Realtor gives three simple bathroom renovation ideas that go beyond choosing a sink or picking what kind of tile to install.

As a realtor I know how important kitchens and bathrooms are to people looking to buy a house. In an older house, an updated kitchen and bathrooms definitely increase the home’s market value. If you’re thinking of renovating a bathroom, here are three simple ideas that you may not have considered.

1. Install or replace an exhaust fan. It’s been a long time since bathroom ventilation consisted of opening a window. Get an exhaust fan that’s as quiet as possible but still pulls an appropriate amount of air for the size of your bathroom. In my opinion, the best option is what’s called an in-line exhaust fan; the fan motor isn’t right above the ceiling but somewhere away from the bathroom ceiling grille and close to the roof cap or wall cap that’s venting the air flow to the exterior.

2. Install an “ADA-height” toilet. Most toilets are available both in a regular height or in a slightly (2 inches) higher ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-height. The height we’re talking about the height of the seat from the floor, not the height of the water tank. Since it’s only 2 inches higher, after installation you probably won’t even think about it as an ADA-height toilet. Think of it like the sofa or chairs in your living room, and how hard it is for some people to get out of a low chair/sofa. The only downside of a higher toilet is that it may be harder for small children to use (but we know how fast they grow!).

3. If you’re going to have a full down-to-the-studs renovation, learn about “Universal Design” and incorporate as many of the ideas as possible. Universal Design is a concept that goes beyond ADA guidelines and recommends design that accommodates people of all ages from children to the elderly. A good place to start is here. For example, it makes sense to install a large area of reinforcement behind the drywall or tile around the shower and the commode. Even if you don’t want grab rails now, you (or the home buyer) will have maximum flexibility in the placement of grab bars any time in the future. At least install horizontal 2-by-4 reinforcements between the studs 33 – 36 inches above the floor.

 When you eventually go to sell your house, list these bathroom features so a potential buyer knows you did the extra planning to include three upgrades that most other houses on the market in your price range probably won’t have. As an SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) designation Realtor I’d be glad to discuss other Universal Design issues with you -- just email me or call me at (732) 239-0739. I’d like you to get to know me now, not just when you’re ready to list your house on the market.

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