Gone are the days when family members were happy to take their turn in the bathroom.
Make no mistake: a house with two bathrooms trumps a home with just one.
In the shopping list of building works that can add significant value to a property – from conservatories to loft conversions to new kitchens – the humble bathroom often gets overlooked. After all, it is probably the room in the house in which people spend least time.
But it would be foolish to underestimate the benefit of adding an extra bathroom to a property. A house with three or more suddenly acquires an air of luxury and is reflected in the asking price of the property.
What are the costs and benefits?
With so many variables at play, it is not surprising that experts come up with many different answers to the all-important question: how much value does an extra bathroom add to a property?
A study by Direct Line Home Insurance, broadly consistent with other findings, suggests that an additional bathroom could increase the value of a property by an average of £12,000 (or around five per cent) to the value of a home.
There are obviously regional variations, with properties in less highly priced areas showing less of a potential profit, but with the average cost of installing a new bathroom estimated at £4,500, it almost looks like a no-brainer.
Not surprisingly, 70 per cent of estate agents surveyed believed that an extra bathroom would help to sell a house.
“Such is the desire for extra bathroom space that it is not uncommon to see an extra bathroom added by sacrificing a small bedroom,” says Robin Chatwin, Head of Savills South West London offices. “A superior en-suite can add £50,000 or more to a £1.5 million-plus home in central London.”
How many bathrooms per bedroom?
A one-to-one ratio is obviously ideal, but a home is not a hotel, and you should bear in mind that a stylish fourth bathroom which you have carefully decorated may be taking up space which could be put to better use.
Estate agents are more or less unanimous – 95 per cent, in one survey – that a property with four or more bedrooms must have a minimum of two bathrooms or it will never sell.
But thereafter it is an inexact science and much will depend on the make-up of the household and the frequency of visitors.
If in doubt, err on the side of more. Plenty of buyers have been put off properties with too few bathrooms. Very few have been put off ones with too many.
Bear in mind also that buyers will not be as keen where the bathrooms are tired-looking and in need of an upgrade.
Are en-suite bathrooms essential?
A generation ago, the en-suite bathroom felt vaguely luxurious, the sort of thing associated with grand country houses, rather than suburban semis.
But now, particularly at the top end of the market, some buyers demand en-suite bathrooms as a matter of course, regarding them as an intrinsic component of their personal space.
The Direct Line survey suggested that an en-suite bathroom could add an extra 5.1 per cent to the value of an average property.
A bathroom or a shower room?
Here, if anything, the trend is in the opposite direction. Most people under 35 opt for a short sharp shower in the morning, rather than luxuriating for 20 minutes in a bath.
Although they have nothing against baths, they know that they take up far more space than a shower. And as space tends to be at a premium for many young urban professionals, particularly those living in flats, the case for shower rooms gets stronger and stronger.
Obviously, in large four or five-bedroom properties, a mixture of shower rooms and bathrooms is both practical and desirable.
Splashing out: a touch of luxury
Never make the mistake of thinking of a bathroom as purely functional. For an increasing number of homeowners, it is the room in the house where they want to pamper themselves.
In short, a clean, stylishly designed bathroom can add significant value to a property. Dingy, cramped ones have the opposite effect. So, if you are thinking of selling, you should pay as much attention to the condition and number of bathrooms as you do to your kitchen and master bedroom.