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How many bathrooms do you really need?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis October 24, 2012 08:37 AM

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Time for a little potty talk today.

If you are looking at a house, the number of bathrooms is a key consideration.

Just one bathroom is problematic and three is a luxury that's great, provided you can afford it.

To me, two is a happy medium when it comes to bathrooms, provided at least one is a full.

First, let's consider the one bathroom house. When my wife Karen and I bought back in 2002, our 19th-century Natick fixer-upper, like lot of old, never-updated houses in Greater Boston, came with just one cramped bathroom off the kitchen.

Old fashioned is a much too dignified way to describe it. Not only that, the floor was rotting, with the tiles starting to give way around the toilet itself.

As I look back, we were lucky no one went crashing into the basement.

Basically, with children on the way, we knew we had to both fix the old bathroom and add a new one. If you are a newbie to home ownership, that maybe sounds like a minor renovation project, but it's anything but that.

In 2008, six years after we bought village colonial, we hired our friendly neighborhood builder to put on an addition that also gave us the second bathroom we were looking for.

We also briefly considered adding a master bath, but the extra expense seemed exorbitant - and it still does.

Even with three children now, two bathrooms, one full and one with a shower, works just fine. In fact, after risking life and limb for years using the old bathroom off the kitchen, it still seems luxurious to actually have two.

OK, I probably should wait until my three little ones grow into bathroom-hogging teens before I start dissing master baths - maybe then having a bathroom off the bedroom will seem like a necessity of some sort, not a luxury.

Of course, this discussion very likely seems odd indeed to anyone outside New England reading this right now.

The fact is, we live in a part of the country where old homes in need of work predominate and new construction is much harder to find and, as a result, carries a big premium. (Here's a nifty chart that shows the percentage of homes built before 1940 in towns across the Boston area - in Somerville, it's a whopping 74 percent.)

Extra bathrooms, like everything else related to real estate in Greater Boston, can be pricey.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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