These days, it’s hard to find a new home that isn’t built with at least one master suite. But if your home is old enough or humble enough to not have a master bath, you could be itching to add one. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you consider your options.
>> Do spend time gathering ideas and inspiration. Take advantage of open houses and home tours. Ask friends with master baths what features are important and which ones are extraneous. Collect ideas in a Houzz Ideabook or a Pinterest board and stash photos there.
>> Don’t skimp on design or rush into the project. Hire an architect or designer, or a design-build professional, who will be able to convert your doable ideas into blueprints and weed out the things that just won’t work.
>> Do be realistic about what you can afford. If you are working with a professional designer, he or she can give you an idea of what will fit with your budget even before you get estimates from builders.
>> Don’t overlook your construction options. The addition of a master bath doesn’t necessarily mean an addition onto the side of your house, which would involve a foundation, new walls, and a roof. Consider building into unused space next to your master bedroom, such as a seldom-used bedroom or bathroom.
>> Do incorporate water-saving fixtures such as low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets. The savings will continue for years.
>> Don’t make shortsighted decisions on materials and building techniques. You want this bathroom to stay nice for a long time.
>> Do consider a zero-threshold shower, perhaps designed so that it doesn’t need a door. Today’s large, spa-like showers often boast these features, in addition to multiple showerheads and body sprays.
>> Don’t neglect ventilation. Install fans that are powerful enough to remove all the extra moisture generated by your deluxe shower. An automatic unit with a humidity sensor adds extra protection from the damage that excess moisture can cause.
>> Do think about universal design, which would make the bathroom usable to someone with mobility limitations. If you end up staying in your home as you age, you’ll appreciate such features as a wide doorway, lever door handles, reinforced walls to support grab bars, a zero-threshold shower, lower light switches, comfort-height toilet, and cabinets and sinks accessible to someone in a wheelchair.
>> Don’t forget to design your lighting to include overall illumination as well as task lighting at the mirrors and in the shower and other areas.
>> Do build in lots and lots of storage. Enough said.
>> Don’t put in a soaking tub just because it seems the thing to do. If you seldom lounge in the tub you already have, don’t spend the money and take up the space for a fancy tub. You could use those resources for another luxury feature in the bathroom.
>> Do include enough vanity space for two people. Double sinks have become standard, but you can decide whether you really need two.
>> Don’t forget to budget for surprises, such as water damage and mold that could be lurking in the floor or walls of an old bathroom you’re tearing out or structural issues that no one could foresee.
>> Do be realistic about the payback you’ll get from a new master bath. If you’ll be selling your home soon, you won’t be able to recoup your expenses. But if you’re planning to stay for several years, the new bathroom will pay off in an improved lifestyle for you.
>> Don’t forget that new finished space will increase your costs in terms of heating and cooling, electricity for lighting, and water use.