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Evaluate Your House for a Master Suite Addition

Published: November 11, 2010
When planning a master suite addition, don´t just think “bump out”—think “build up,” “do over,” and “fold in” the space you already have.

Master Bedroom Addition
A master suite addition is a place to call your own—no kiddie toys, no teens hogging the bathroom—a heavenly space where you can bathe, dress, or simply relax in peace. But paradise doesn´t come cheap.
A 16-by-24-foot master suite addition to a house with midrange fixtures and finishes costs a national average of $106,196, according to Remodeling Magazine´s Cost vs. Value Report. For a larger, upscale suite with luxury appointments, the price tag jumps to $227,178.

Master suite building basics

Bumping out your house to add a master suite means giving up yard space, excavating, pouring a foundation, framing—the whole shebang that requires the full range of tradesmen, from roofer to plumber to tile-setter.
You´ll need zoning approval and building inspections, expanded heating and cooling systems, and probably an upgraded electrical panel, water heater, and burglar alarm, too.

Think outside the bump-out

If you take advantage of existing space for your master suite addition, you can trim 20% to 60% from your budget. Here´s how.
  • Build up instead of out: Add your master suite on top of ground floor space—over a porch, garage, or previous addition. The disadvantage? Ground-level space is easier to age into.
  • Steal underutilized space: Incorporate that rarely used guest room—even better, that extra bathroom—into your master suite. You´ll save thousands if you can tap into existing water and sewer lines.
  • Finish unfinished space: Convert unfinished basement, attic, or even garage space into a master suite. Because you don´t have to build a foundation, exterior walls, or a roof, you´ll save 50% to 60% compared with a full-scale addition.
Gift that keeps on costing

Your master suite expenses don´t end when the last faucet and light switch are installed. Every month you´ll pay higher energy bills to heat, cool, and light your new space.

If you add 600 sq. ft. to a 2,000-sq. ft. house—30% more space—your energy bills likely will grow by 30%, too. Your property tax bill may increase by a larger percentage, because you´re adding space and installing a bathroom, which tax assessors value at a higher rate than other rooms.

Be realistic about payback
Adding a master suite will make a big difference to your life, but may not equally impact the value of your house. If yours is the only master suite on the block, you´ll recoup less than if master suites are standard in your neighborhood.

The national average midrange master suite paid back 59.2% of its cost, according to the latest Cost vs. Value Report, down from 82.4% in 2005. The average return on an upscale job was 50.5%, down from 80.1% seven years ago. But not everything is about money. If you plan to stay in your house for another 3 to 5 years, adding a private oasis could just be … priceless.

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