Boost resale value: tub vs. shower

Function, safety among top concerns for elderly

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 20, 2011

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Function, safety among top concerns for elderly

Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News™

Q: I live in a 1,350-square-foot townhouse that has two full baths. I want to remove the tub from the guest bathroom and replace it with a shower and a linen storage space. My wife keeps saying no because it would lower the value of the house.

Climbing into the tub to shower is awkward and difficult for the older guests we occasionally have.

I have no plans to move from here but if I do, whoever buys the house can have it removed if they don't like it. This subject is causing a lot of domestic upheaval and I need your input. If you give it a green light, the next person I need to persuade is our decorator.

A: Done properly, removing the tub and installing a shower can increase the value of your townhouse. At worst it will be a break-even proposition.

We've spent a lot of years mucking about in the real estate waters. Our mantra is "clean and nice gets any price." Well, almost. So do the remodel tastefully and you will come out ahead.

These days, bathtubs are not as popular as they used to be. Lounging in a bubble bath is just not part of the American life we know. Kevin lives with his wife and 17-year-old daughter. His master bath has only a shower. The second bath has a tub/shower combo. He can't remember the last time either of his girls actually took a bath.

More important, a shower is a lot safer for your guests. Negotiating the 18-inch step over the lip of a tub is a lot tougher than stepping over a 3-inch shower curb. Also, the step down into the tub increases the chance of a slip and fall.

We presume you have a standard 5-foot-long tub. That's enough space for a 3-foot-by-3-foot shower pan, a new 2-foot-by-4-foot wall and an 18-inch floor-to-ceiling linen cabinet.

To maximize the sex appeal of the new shower, avoid prefabricated units. Opt for tile walls and a tile or terrazzo floor. We'd also go for a clear glass shower door to show off the snazzy tile work. A glass door requires a quick wipe with a squeegee after each use to keep water spots at bay. But the 30 seconds it takes to wipe the door pays huge dividends in the overall look.

For safety and for your elderly guests' convenience, don't forget to install grab bars. A vertical one at the entrance and a horizontal one on the back wall will do the trick.

Replacing the tub with a shower shouldn't present any great logistical problem. The wet wall can stay where it is, although the hot and cold water supplies will need to be raised. The drain will move away from the wet wall to the center of the shower. The vent pipe should remain where it is. All in all, not a tough job for a plumber or even a talented do-it-yourselfer.

While you're at it, consider changing out the vanity counter with marble or granite. That, along with a new floor, will complete the job. Our bet is that your guests won't be the only ones using it. Likely as not, you -- and your wife -- will co-opt the new digs for yourself.

                                     
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