Remodeling your bathroom
On average, $9,720, according to 2002 figures from Remodeling magazine,
an industry publication.
Value added: 81 percent of the remodeling dollar comes
back at resale, according to Remodeling.
Popularity as a remodel target: Ranks second in number
of rooms remodeled but third in terms of money spent, according to the National
Association of the Remodeling Industry.
New trends: Products once available only in million-dollar
homes, like marble counter tops, are now "available to the masses,"
says Dan Tratensek, analyst with the National Retail Hardware Association and
Home Center Institute, an industry group. Look for: larger luxury showers with
a combination of spa-type attributes, like multiple shower heads, pulsating
shower heads, steam generators and shower towers (which create a waterfall-like
effect). Also big: frameless shower enclosures, larger or double vanities, faucets
in brushed antique or satin finishes and heated flooring and towel racks.
Features to consider: "People are spending more time
in the bathrooms and bedrooms," says Julius Lowenberg, president of NARI.
"It's a luxury item for them."
Think about whether you want a tub, shower or both. Regular size
or something larger? And with what special details? Once you decide, consider
the cost and the amount of space you'll need to do it right.
For permanent fixtures, think neutral. A brightly colored commode,
sink or fixture could get old quick, and black shows every soap stain and water
spot, says Lowenberg. If you must have colors, he says, "be sure you can
live with them." And if you want the look to last, save the brights for
Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: Got an old bathtub
you've given up on? Plumbers can fit a custom-made acrylic liner over the top
-- just like capping a tooth. Result: A brand-new tub without the mess of ripping
out the old one. Cost: about $2,200 to $3,000, says Lou Manfredini, author of
Fix-It Introduces You to Your Home and a home improvement expert for
Ace Hardware Corp.
New products: Vessel sinks, which sit above the counter,
soaking tubs and quieter, more-efficient toilets. For do-it-yourselfers: luxury
shower heads create "a mini-spa for less than $200," says Manfredini.
And a curved shower curtain rod can give a little extra elbow (and shoulder)
room for $50 to $60, he says.
Special problems: Resale value: If you remove a tub in
one bathroom in favor of an oversized luxury shower system, you could limit
your resale prospects.
Also, mold prevention. "You really have to make sure the
bathroom is vented well, especially if you're creating a home spa," says
Tom Silva, the general contractor on the PBS series "This Old House."
"Today's houses are built tight," he says. If you don't let the moisture
out, you risk mold, mildew and dry rot.
Biggest mistakes: Homeowners have large soaking tubs or
multi-head showers installed, but don't confirm that the hot water heater can
handle the new load.
In addition, a larger tub requires a high-flow faucet or you may
have to wait 15 minutes to fill it, says Don Sever, certified remodeler, and
marketing committee chairman for NARI.
Professional or DIY: Do-it-yourselfers can handle a variety
of bathroom remodeling tasks, including tiling and replacing commodes or faucets.
Look for: products that put everything for a job in one box, says Tratensek.
Veteran do-it-yourselfers also might be able to help out with
some of the demolition work, says Silva. "[But] I believe in leaving the
electrical and plumbing to licensed persons because you don't want any problems."
-- Posted: July 1, 2003