How important is en-suite bath in master bedroom?

mjlbAugust 22, 2013

Help -- I'm obsessing! How important is the en-suite bath to a master bedroom?

I have been looking for an investment condo, and keep circling back to one that has been on the market for longer than most of the competition. The condo is two stories, with a large master bedroom and a smaller second bedroom on the second floor. There is a hall bath on the second floor that is located between the two bedrooms. For structural and cost reasons, there is no way to re-organize the space on the second floor.

On the main floor there is a half-bath that could readily be converted to a full bath. Would the availability of the second full bath on the first floor satisfy you?

Next to the first floor bath is a den that could be converted into a small (i.e. not ideal size for master) bedroom. But then guests would either need to pass through that bedroom to get to the first floor bathroom. I'm inclined to leave the room alone as a den / guest room.

For background, the general area is very desirable. The condo complex is historical, and very nice, but most units are not quite luxurious. For example, kitchens are all builder-grade white cabinetry; bathrooms are basic, etc.

I'd love to hear your comments � I'm hoping it will stop my obsessing.

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When you say it will be for investment, do you mean rental? If so, then I would definitely go ahead. Renters might even prefer having a hall bath that two adults could share rather than one ensuite. I wouldn't even worry about converting the downstairs bath to a full bath.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:44PM
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I've been in my old cape cod home since 1986. I've added 2 half baths, as it came with only a full bath on the second floor near the bedrooms, and a very rustic one in the basement.

Never once in all that time have I wished the bathroom NEAR the master was connected to it. I'm probably in the minority, but it's close enough, and a bit more private/quiet than having it en-suite.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Not ideal but I guess OK for renters. If I were living there I would want an en-suite and I would not convert the first floor powder to a full bath....wake up in the morning, go downstairs to shower, then back upstairs to get ready? Does not make sense to me.

One thing...if you are noticing this as a drawback so will renters and potential buyers down the road when you want to sell.

Who would a typical renter be? A single problem, even sharing the bath with occasional houseguests A single parent with one child....could be OK as well. Two roommates? Might work, might not.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:54PM
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How many square feet?
In that locale, who would be likely to live in it?
Here for a two bedroom condo, I don't think a master bath would be expected, particularly if it ate up square footage.

I would say if you could convert the hall bath downstairs to a 3/4, again without eating up square footage, and keeping it a den, that would be desirable.

When I was renting out this property, I rented it as a 2 -3 bedroom because the top floor has a room with closets. The second floor has two bedrooms, a hall bath and a 3/4 bath ensuite with one of the bedrooms.

The three tenants arranged the division of rent among themselves. The person who paid the most had the room on the top floor that not only didn't have a bath on that floor, it didn't have a door. The person with their own 3/4 paid the middle amount, and the person who shared the hall bath, but had the most private bedroom paid the least.

So, a lot is going to depend upon who your target rental market is. In some markets here, each would want their own full bath, in addition to an accessible to all powder room.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:55PM
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I would guess it would depend on the competition in the neighborhood whether you need one for re-sale. For me, I really prefer having the en-suite master bath, especially when we have guests over. I certainly could/would live in a house with two bathrooms where none where attached to the master. I would in general not want guests walking through my master bedroom to use the bathroom.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:56PM
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I owned a 2BR 1BA condo in a college town. I would think that if you are going after a rental market/students, at least a shower in the second bath would be helpful. I really hated having one bath with nowhere to put one in on the main level. But no one would be expecting an ensuite.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Thanks for everyone's comments - they're really helpful. To answer a few questions: the area has numerous colleges and medical centers, as well as lots of other businesses. It's also in a really good school system for children. (You know, until I typed this, I didn't even realize what good points those are.)

However it makes it difficult for me to picture who my likely buyer or renter might be. I would love to do a flip, but the numbers are going to dictate renting it for a few years before selling. I would do my best NOT to rent to students.

I haven't spoken to a plumber, but from a space planning point of view, I could definitely make the half bath into a 3/4, without infringing on the den.

As improbable as it sounds, the unit is about 2000 sf. But it is 2000 sf of jigs and jogs and impediments to ceiling height. It does not feel like 2000 sf at all, and I imagine that is partly why it is languishing on the market.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 6:44PM
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delete duplicate

This post was edited by mjlb on Fri, Aug 23, 13 at 12:23

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:41PM
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delete duplicate

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:42PM
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So there is not one full bath in the condo? Where the heck to get cleaned up on either floor?? I know there must be a tub or shower in there somewhere...

I could live with a half bath in the master, but I need a tub as I prefer a bath so it is a must, it's okay if it is not part of the master bedroom.

It's only important probly for re sale / most folks like a full bath (even if it's just a shower) off the master.

This post was edited by sasafras on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 22:28

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:23PM
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Also consider if the unchangeable aspects of this particular property will make it harder to sell (not just harder to rent).

Unless it is pure starter house in a neighborhood where no homes have an en-suite master bath, I think it could limit the potential buyers.

I don't think any buyer who has lived with the privacy of an en suite would give it up if they didn't have to.

My personal opinion of course.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 11:01PM
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sasafras -- the second floor has a full bath. The first floor currently has a half-bath, but I would add a shower to make it a 3/4 bath.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 11:46AM
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I, personally, do like an en suite. I don't understand why people want to sleep next to a toilet unless there are medical needs involved.

To get to our only full bath on the first floor, one walks through the master and into a tandem (used as a nursery ATM), just as you describe could be done with remodeling. Guests usually just use the half bath that is in our entrance (I've been told that it is German-style to have it there; not sure if true).

Sounds like a great location and good building. What about the overall floor plan?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Don't forget graduate/medical students!

OTOH, I've lived next to undergraduates in my townhome--I had rented a unit before I bought there, and almost always they were great. Now the NON-students who lived next to me were the problem. One was likely a drug dealer and the next one in that unit was a hothead with an aggressive dog. At the time my friend sold her unit maybe a year ago, hothead was still there.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 2:27PM
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German-style is that the toilet and a sink could be separate from the bathroom proper (tub, shower, sinks). Actually, I have to say that initially I thought en suites were extremely strange. Walking directly from your bedroom to a WC, gross!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 5:08PM
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I would talk to your realtor. Ensuite bathroom is important upgrade to me.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Well, it sounds two potentially separate issues: rental and re-sale. And for re-sale: investor vs owner/occupant.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 6:25PM
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I'm with my3dogs - we have a cape cod style home also. Our master is on the second floor, along with a spare bedroom and a small office and a VERY large bathroom. It is its own room (not connected to any other room) and I actually prefer it that way for the privacy/quiet issue. It is close enough to the MBR. I kind of find it disgusting to have my head resting in bed on the same wall as the toilet in an adjoining room (which I have done in a past home). Just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:53PM
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"one that has been on the market for longer than most of the competition." tells you exactly how desirable people are finding it for sale. Renting is a different animal. But, for an owner occupant, most want an actual master suite.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Considering people used to keep a chamber pot,-- sometimes under their beds --for use in the middle of the night, I think we've gotten awfully squeamish about having a toilet "only in the next room" at least a door or a wall away. One of the reasons for the polio epidemics of the 20th century was that America got too obsessed with hygiene too fast and our immune systems didn't have time to catch up. Last I heard, everyone still had to use the toilet, and on a fairly regular basis--it's not like some people are too good for it.

That said, I wouldn't necessarily want it arranged so I looked at it right from my bed.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Pal -- I actually remember using a chamber pot (only for #1 tho'), in two cases: 1) my grandfather's house - which had a bathroom, so I'm not sure why, and 2) in the attic/summer bedroom when I was a kid.

When I moved into house where I am now, I positioned the head of the bed farthest away from door to the bathroom. I have a sloped ceiling, so the head of the bed is on the tall side of the room. An architect acquaintance thought that was bad feng shui, but I knew I didn't want to look at the toilet if the bathroom door was open. Nor did I want the bathroom bright light to awaken me if my husband used the facilities during the night.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Pal, you are right-- we were a lot more "up close and personal," so to speak, with the loo . . .and I can only imagine how gross the thought of moving the outhouse indoors was initially. However, for me personally, I would still rather not be near the bathroom when I am in my bedroom. No matter how pretty one might be, it's a room for a toilet (most of the time-- I know sometimes they can be completely separate).

Is that a proven fact about polio? I have heard that as an argument from people against vaccinations, but from hearing people's stories with polio (in other countries), I am not so sure I agree.

Nosoccer, I am basing my info on the German-style bath (mine is a half-bath) only on a family member who lived in Germany. Nothing scholarly. She said it was part of the idea of keeping company out of any personal areas of the house.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 9:17PM
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Rapid changes in sanitation, maternal passed-on immunity vs. self-acquired immunity and when and how often there was exposure to immunologic challenges, was put forth as one of the most feasible explanations in a book I read and several documentaries I watched on polio. These things are all things that changed rapidly, in good part due to changes in sanitation, in the first half of the twentieth century. They weren't claiming it was the only factor, just a part of the puzzle. All you have to do is look at how the local environmental factors affect us when we travel compared to the population that lives there to give the theory some credence.

I don't know how that would get twisted around to use as anti-vaccine data, though.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 9:36PM
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An en suite was not a requirement for me, but a stall shower definitely was. When we found our house, I was in love with it before I walked in to the master bedroom, with attached en suite and stall shower.

I go out of my way to use my 'private' bathroom-when the main bath is actually more convenient! Maybe it's because we only had one bathroom in our old house-and there were 6 of us living there...

Regardless, if it's not already there, I don't see it as being an issue. Definitely if you add the shower to the downstairs bath, you've set it up for much better rental potential. Should a 3rd room mate move it, having their 'own' shower would be helpful, even if it's technically the guest bath.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 9:56PM
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This is digressing, but I think the reason why in many German houses the bathroom proper is traditionally separated from the toilet (powder room) is because many houses only have one bathroom (with bath tub/shower). So, one person can take a shower or bath without "blocking" the only other toilet in the house.
And, yes, there's usually a powder room on the first floor if the bedrooms and bathroom/WC are on the second floor, for guests and convenience,just like in American houses.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 10:04PM
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I don't know anyone who has an ensuite who wishes it were down the hall. That would settle the question as far as I was concerned.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 12:34AM
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Are some of you being grossed out by a bathroom attached to a bedroom in a house that doesn't have a single bedroom sharing a wall with a bathroom? Don't think having a master bathroom is any different except you do have a door.

OR are you misunderstanding the term en-suite and thinking it is an open area with a toilet in the master?

Mjlb - is there space enough to add a powder room area to the master with a door from it leading to the full bath? Sort of a jack and Jill, but not fully.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 3:30PM
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lyfia - No, unfortunately there is no way to reconfigure the second floor bath (there is a staircase dividing the master bedroom from the bathroom.)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 3:40PM
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I was going to make the same comment as GreenDesigns - the fact that it has been on the market so long tells you something. So does your comment that the jigs and jags of the space make it feel smaller than its 2000 sq ft. That also hurts its value as both a rental and a resale. Third point would be that less than ideal properties can draw less than ideal tenants. Not saying you can't get good tenants, but great properties can demand them.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 4:52PM
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I'm in the position of securing housing for grown-ups, mostly unrelated though sometimes at least friends/colleagues, in a rural area each summer. There are several wonderful Guest Houses that have been lovingly built/re-constructed. In some years, I have to pass them by, even if the price is right, because although they theoretically sleep 4-6 persons, they only have one full bath. Unrelated grownups don't like to share bathrooms, period. They'd rather sleep in a Super 8. A tiny shower will absolutely make your house more marketable.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Well, if it is in a cool location, you might end up with a young married couple. Dh bought the most adorable, older, town house before we were married. It was in the most desirable area of the city, with beautiful mansions, enormous canopy trees, cool shops and bars in walking distance, you get the picture. It had 2 bedrooms, the master was quite large with 2 small closets, 2nd bedroom was much smaller. It had only one bath, total, and it was upstairs in the hall. We never gave it a thought, and guests just walked upstairs to use the bath when we had parties. We were in our mid-twenties and stuff like NEEDING our bath in our bedroom just didnt occur to us. We just really enjoyed the awesome location, the hw floors, and the enormous oaks that surrounded the property! If your location is good...I think you can't go wrong,

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Some people really want/need an en-suite bathroom. Some people would like one, but can live without it if everything else--location, price, other amenities--fits their needs. Some people really don't care either way. And some people really don't want one.

So if you buy this condo, you have eliminated the "really want/need" folks from your potential buyers and renters.

But you still have a fairly large pool of potential renters and buyers to draw from.

If you add the shower to the downstairs bathroom, I think you will make the condo attractive to non-related renters--three grad students, say.

Do other units in the building have en-suite bathrooms? If so, then not having one could be a liability. But if there are other units without one, and the building itself is a desirable place to live, then you should be fine. You might have to lower your asking price to draw people in, but that would be the main drawback that I can see.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 7:18PM
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