Home Value May Be Higher With Shower

Several weeks ago, I printed a letter from a reader who wanted to know what would happen to her home’s value if she replaced a bathtub/shower combination with just a shower.

Her home would then have 1 full bath (with a bathtub and shower), one three-quarter bath (shower only) and a half-bath.

Dozens of readers responded. Many thought she should make the change. Others were more concerned she’d be destroying, or at least potentially limiting the appreciation of her property.

This week, I’ll run letters supporting her move. Next week, I’ll run some of those letters sounding a cautionary note.

Comment: I live in Sun City Center, in Florida, which is an active retirement community built by Del Webb in 1962. When we moved here in 1999, we bought one of his original models that was built in 1963.

Del Webb had the foresight to know that seniors would require at least one shower in their home in lieu of a bathtub and thus all of his homes with at least 2 bathrooms offered one with a bathtub and one with a walk-in shower — he was obviously before his time!

All of the houses here have at least one walk-in shower. It’s a definite plus in retirement communities that houses have a shower to accommodate the aging population. As the baby boomers age, it will not be a question as to the increase or decrease value of a house but a “must-have.”

Do I think replacing a bathtub with a shower would increase or decrease the value of my house in my particular neighborhood? It absolutely would increase the value.

Comment: We are building our dream custom home right now and the master bath will have no tub but an enlarged shower unit with multiple shower heads. We don’t use a tub at all and never have. I always wonder why, when we look at high-end homes, people continue to put in such large tubs when the space is wasted and people end up using the shower! We told our builder to skip the tub and build a huge shower and we hope this will add value to our home.

Comment: I am a Texas Certified General Appraiser who has been in the business for 20 years.

Baths are fine as a method of getting cleaner than before, but you are seated in water which is polluted by skin flakes, dirt, deodorant, makeup, and whatever. After stepping out of the shower and toweling off, some pollutants remain all over your body.

Showers pound the body with clean water that immediately runs off down the drain carrying what ever can be loosened. Thus after toweling off you are cleaner.

“Shower over tubs” are slick and dangerous besides being smaller and spraying the floor where you must step out with wet feet.

Comment: I found your recent article discussing the virtues of showers vs. tubs to be very timely. My wife and I recently began construction of our new home and were faced with this decision ourselves.

The master bath in the plans for our home had a large jetted tub in the design with a rather large footprint (approximately 8 feet x 4 feet when you consider the ledge and tile surround). The shower, though nice, was not really much larger than a standard shower stall.

Neither of us take baths and find tubs only good for collecting dust. Plus, these deep tubs are very difficult to clean if they are used. When we spoke with our Realtor, we were advised that we needed to have a tub for resale purposes.

Our builder said that at least 80 percent of the people they speak with feel exactly the same as we do, and want to get rid of the tubs. However, despite this prevailing feeling amongst prospective home builders, most people decide to keep the bath for fear of impact on resale values.

We decided we were going to build our house the way we intended to use it and opted to remove the tub entirely. Other than keeping the tub manufacturers happy, what is the point of installing such a large fixture you are never going to use?

In its place we installed a large walk-in shower with two shower heads. The house does have two other tubs should people want to use them for bathing the kids. I can’t imagine there would be too many people that would view this as a negative.

Comment: I believe there is absolutely no chance that the shower would decrease the house value. Rather, a 5-foot, fully enclosed shower will be seen as a luxury item that adds quite a bit of value. How much depends on the quality and quantity of the shower heads. While it’s true that not every potential buyer will appreciate the shower, this person only needs one buyer — the right one.

Comment: In our area of Ontario, Canada, a shower enclosure would be the preferred choice provided it was a full size 30 inches x 60 inches or larger had a seat or bench and a couple of grab bars for seniors.

Families with small children can always use a shower area for bathing their children using a small portable plastic tub. Smaller tub also remove some of the risk drowning associated with having a small child in a large bathtub full of water.

Comment: I agree you need one bath with a tub. Most of the older homes in our area that have made changes keep a tub in the guest bath and build a large shower in master. Steam showers with rainfall shower heads and seats are very popular as are dual showerheads. Another option would be to add shower to a 1/2 bath if they have room.

Next week: Readers share more thoughts about baths and showers.

Jan. 15, 2007.


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