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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: MountainGirl on July 27, 2015, 04:49:59 PM

Title: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: MountainGirl on July 27, 2015, 04:49:59 PM
Hi all, I'm a regular reader, but this is my first post. Here's what I'm considering - would love some thoughts:

I have a house in a very desirable vacation destination (summer months, and skiing in winter). The attached garage has been converted to a home office, and that's what I use it for. It has a sink so there's plumbing, and hardwood floors + skylights, so it's a nice, light space. My house rents out on Airbnb for around $1,000 per week, but to date I've only been renting it out when I'm not here (I have another place to stay in another state where I spend months out of the year for work). I don't really have anywhere else to stay in this town when the place is rented out - sometimes I stay with friends in their guest rooms, but it always feels like an imposition, especially since I have a dog.

If I put a small, simple bathroom in the studio, I could stay here while renting the place out on Airbnb. it would have the basics I need - my office (I work from home), sink, toilet, and shower. I already have a kettle and mini fridge, and a sleeper sofa. I could easily live in here for a week at a time - perhaps a week a month or so. I've had no problem filling the place when I open dates on Airbnb - at least during the summer and winter (fall and spring are quieter). For example, in January I made $3300 off Airbnb by renting out this place, but that was easy since I was out of town.

I got an estimate on installing a bathroom. It was from a very reputable contractor, who likes to give estimates on the high side so as to not go over them. He thought it would be close to $20,000 to put the bathroom in, possibly a bit lower but no less than $17,000. This would be with the appropriate permits from the city, so the second bathroom should add value to the house (the house is a 2 bed, 1 bath house, with a downstairs 2 bed 1 1/2 bath apartment that I rent out on an annual basis to long term tenants).

Is this a good idea?

Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: pbkmaine on July 27, 2015, 05:06:08 PM
I would ask a local realtor this question.
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: bluecollarmusician on July 27, 2015, 05:35:25 PM
I understand you may want the contractor to just take care of it, but if you were able to do some work yourself, you might learn something and also save some money.  I am not suggesting you do it if you aren't comfortable, but even taking on some small parts of the job (perhaps priming and painting new drywall) would save a few bucks and also let you get a little sweat equity.

The price seems a little high to me- but it is very much location dependent.  If you could make the cost back in 17 weeks, it seems like a good idea to me... however I would 2nd the idea to talk to a RE Agent and ask what the bathroom would be worth from a resale perspective.  Additionally, consider making the area a studio and renting full time....????
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: ZMonet on July 27, 2015, 05:40:59 PM
If it already has the plumbing, I don't think it would be hard for you to do a lot of the work yourself.  Maybe you could expand another room at the same time for the same $20k cost if you're willing to put in some sweat equity.  With that said, even with just paying the contractor the fact that you could break even in less than a year and, it sounds like, not really impact your lifestyle makes it a no brainer to me.  It sounds like extra space that you would be unlocking to its full potential...
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: MountainGirl on July 27, 2015, 05:53:50 PM
I should add that I don't know anything about bathroom installations or home renovation. I'm a first time homeowner and on my own, so I'm figuring things out as I go along. The contractor has come back to me and told me that it will be possible to do this in the $15k range if I take care of the permitting with the city and some painting (both of which I can do). I'm having a friend who's a contractor come and give me an estimate too, and he's bringing in a plumber to get a better idea of how hard/easy this is going to be.
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: justajane on July 27, 2015, 05:55:55 PM
I would do it. This would give you the flexibility you want and the ability to make even more money from Airbnb.

I don't think that 20K sounds that high for a general contractor to do it. Just because there's a sink doesn't mean that there isn't significant plumbing work that needs to be done to add a toilet and a shower. Plus there's the framing, drywall, fixtures, etc. It might be a little high, but it's not far off base from quotes I've gotten, and I live in a LCOL area. Labor is expensive, especially when you want to get the proper permits.

But you should get at least one or two more bids. That will give you a sense if this is high or not for your area.
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: bluecollarmusician on July 27, 2015, 06:05:04 PM
FYI: the big question with most garages is the drain for the toilet/shower.  If the garage is on a slab, and their is no drain tied into the plumbing they either have to (cheap way) raise the toilet/shower up so the drain can make it into the drain line, or (more expensive) they have to  bust up a bunch of concrete to get the drains in and drop the main drain out of the house so they can drain into it.  The cheap way works fine, however, some people don't like it because you have to step up to the shower or the toilet. 

Any contractor worth his salt should be able to look at this without a plumber (regarding those specific issues.)  There are other questions that a plumber may be needed for (like sizing lines, or just a general quote on what he would charge...) to help the contractor give you a good quote.

This is starting to sound like a good value add--
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: MountainGirl on July 27, 2015, 06:08:10 PM
I think the idea is to raise the shower and connect to the sewage lines on the other side of the wall. The sink currently has a pump that pumps the drained water up to connect with the sewage lines (which are higher up), and I would likely need to have a similar arrangement (but different pump) for the toilet and shower. That would avoid having to put a drain in the slab under the hardwood floor. It would involve displacing my downstairs tenant for a 1-2 days since the sewage lines run through her bedroom ceiling, but I can compensate her for that time or pick a time when she's out of town.
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: bluecollarmusician on July 27, 2015, 06:25:43 PM
That's good that you are already familiar with the pumps!  Helps understand what you are getting into!
Title: Re: Should I install a bathroom?
Post by: CashFlowDiaries on July 27, 2015, 06:29:55 PM
I would definitely want to put in that bathroom based on what youre saying but if I were you, I would get at least 3 different bids.  That price does seem high to me and it would take time to recover those costs.