Resale value if removing only bathtub and replacing with shower

attygirlNovember 3, 2010

My friend has an elderly mother living with her who has a hard time climbing into the bathtub to take a shower. She is taking bids currently to replace the tub with a walk in shower. This is the only full bathroom in her house, and there is no room for both a walk-in shower and a tub. She is planning on selling her home in the next 5 years. I have been telling her it might not be the smartest thing to do if she is planning on moving in the near future. Would you hesitate to purchase a home that did not have a bathtub?

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I wouldn't mind at all, but then I just came here to ask the exact same question. Our realtor says you need a tub in a house, but when we were at the bath place, the designer there said lots of people are ripping out their only tub & putting in showers. She thinks it depends on the demographics of your neighbourhood. If your house would sell to families, I think it would be the kiss of death, but if you're selling where retirees are moving, perhaps it's not a deal breaker.

I'll be interested to see what other posters comments are.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 9:32PM
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I agree it would depend a lot on the market. As pencilboy said, older couples would probably care a bit less. My in-laws will do that next year, but they don't care at all about resale. Us, we are a (young?) couple, and I think it would have been a deal breaker. Not because of kids (don't have any), but we both like baths! We're redoing the basement bath to get that nice walk-in shower, and will have the bathtub on the main floor for those soak or so my DH can continue to sleep in the morning... Most people around my age like to take bath, even if not that often.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 10:07PM
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rewok, I'm just wondering, you said "most people around my age like to take a bath" What demographic do you fit into?
Thanks, PB

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:51AM
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And I'm not so sure that older people wouldn't care if there wasn't a tub. I recently fractured an elbow and my therapist is recommending soaking in the tub to help ease the joint pain. I don't think you get the same effect in the shower. Seems to me bathtubs have their uses and, in an ideal situation, every home should have at least one bathtub.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 6:35AM
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We're in our young thirties. I probably should have said "most people in my friend base", which means people in their high twenties/low thirties like us. Mostly the wives like taking bath, but some of the men as well.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 6:58AM
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There have been countless threads on this subject both here and on the buy/sell forum. (I've started some myself!) Most people will say you need a tub. Every realtor I spoke with here said we needed at least one tub in the house for optimum resale. You're completely eliminating any buyers with young kids otherwise. However, if I were you I'd ask several realtors who specialize in your market. I guess it's possible there are some pockets where specific demographics who don't like tubs live... like young professionals in big cities, maybe, where a big walk-in shower is preferred.

have you looked into trying to steal a little space from an adjoining room so you can have both?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 8:12AM
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Children require a bathtub and most adults prefer one. Having no tub will definitely hurt resale value.

Personally, I have a 1 yr old and would not purchase a home without a tub. Even without kids, my wife would demand a tub. (She almost never uses it, but she wouldn't buy a house without one.)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Building code requires one tub in a residential household.

There are accessible "walk-in tubs" that might work for you. They provide easier access and still fill the requirement for a tub.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:30AM
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We're in the process of tearing out a big soaker tub and replacing it with a big shower only configuration. I caught some feedback on this that said to not do it because of resale value. But we do have one other full bath in the house that does have a bathtub.

I'm looking forward to a big shower. If I had the room and money was no object I'd prefer a big shower and a big soaker tub, but in all honesty the big tub would have dust in it most of the time. I simply am not a bath person. I am a hottub person. But I prefer my hottub to be outside and 102 F.

And while I'm speaking of dream bathrooms, if I had again the space and money was no object, I'd have a steam room as well :)

But back to reality. I'm looking forward to a big shower stall in the master bath of our new house.

But I do tend to agree that having at least one tub in the house is pretty necessary in general real estate terms. But I also understand the desire to have an walk in shower stall instead of a tub. Is there any way to add a shower stall - maybe even sacrifice a big closet or something to make space?


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:09AM
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I've noticed more hotels are replacing tubs with nice roomy showers.

I personally wouldn't buy a house without a tub. I almost always take showers, but a tub is necessary from time to time.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:41AM
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For us, there is no where to steal room for a shower, our bathrooms are very small, the big one is 5'x7'. The tiny kitchen is on one side & the stairwell is on the other. Our house is only 975 sq', so it's a challenge. This is not a family house, at best it is a couple only house. It seems a shame to me to have a bathtub which has never been used. We have a small corner shower in the downstairs bath, but it's tiny & the 5' bath upstairs is just so small that we thought of putting in a nice walk in with a bench.
It's not code here to have a bathtub, we checked.

Thanks rewok for answering my question, everyone we know, we've asked all of them, only one person wouldn't buy a house that didn't have a bath.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 1:17PM
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We kept one bathtub in our house (4.5 bathrooms) because of code, but no one ever uses it as a tub (it's used for the shower now.) Hasn't been used since our youngest was maybe 3 years old (he's 11 now.) After that age our kids were taking showers, but we had a handheld showerhead in there at the time that made it easier.

Our son was bummed that it stayed in his bathroom during our renovation because he'd rather have a walk in shower like his sister got. (We helped him get over THAT argument by saying he could go back to sharing a bathroom with his sister. 'nuff said.)

I know lots of people who never use their massive tubs, and I personally feel like I have to shower anyway after sitting in a tub. But I know other people like them and here, anyway, it was code.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:20PM
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Yowwccch, you're between a rock and a hard place. Such a small home could be a starter home for a couple or even a single, and thus a tub would be valuable.

But for your mom, I sympathize with the need for a walk-in shower. Have you investigated the walk-in tubs such as Premier? My MIL is currently living with us and prefers tub baths, but when I was recovering from a broken leg, I learned how hard it can be to step into a tub with a disability! It was several weeks before I could do it at all, and that was at age 53.

Based on that experience, if she becomes disabled we plan to put in a walk-in tub. It's expensive (especially for us, with some design and structural issues) but could help her stay out of a nursing facility.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:27PM
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Bathtubs are becoming irrelevant in our lives. Nice to have, but not mandatory. People always talk about resale to a young couple with a baby. How long does a baby remain a baby? If you live to 80, you will need a bathtub for maybe 5 of those years! Thats it.

Dining rooms used be a must have. Most homes now have a combined kitchen/living/dining areas that family friendly not stuffy...

Plan for safety. Put in a big, curbless shower. Get a separate jacuzzi (outdoors).

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 3:14PM
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First of all, to the OP, I don't think your friend has the luxury of considering resale value at this time. If her mother needs a shower, she needs a shower. What is the alternative? Kick her out? Wait for her to injure herself in the tub?

When my grandmother was nearing the end of her life, we were about to start a massive renovation that would have certainly negatively affected resale (with one of those motorized stair chair things and the whole bit). Unfortunately she passed away before that was necessary, but it wasn't a question of the resale value of the house, it was what was needed.

On the larger question of tubs, though, I can say this about my experience:

1. Tubs are not required by our building code here.
2. Eight years ago we bought our one-bathroom, no tub house as a relatively young couple, certainly the demographic that would have kids (although we had none) and we never thought twice about there being no tub.
3. I don't really miss not having a tub. I might take a bath if I had one but I don't feel like I'm missing out on something by not having one. It would be nice at times for plants and things, but that's it. We actually have a huge raised tub for our dogs.
4. We are putting in a new (additional) bathroom right now and have opted to put in a comfortably sized shower rather than the tub. In a small house, unless you are a major bath person, a tub is luxury that few can afford the space for.

I have a lot of friends who went through their kids' youngest years without a tub. I don't know what they did, but they figured it out, and if we had to, we would too. It was absolutely not a deal-breaker for us.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 4:09PM
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BUT the difference is that this real estate market is highly competitive and will be for many many years to come.

If someone has the choice of buying a house with a tub or no tub, or a master bath with 2 vs 1 sinks -- the choices will be obvious.

Sorry to disagree -- but if you're thinking of selling in the next 5 - 10 years -- you need to spend your remodeling $$ to make your home at least competitive, hopefully a bit better than your neighbors.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 6:15PM
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I agree that for my friend, her choices are few. I have encouraged her to look into the cost and possibility of adding just a shower right off her mom's bedroom, using some of the closet space. I know it looks odd, but at the end of the day, she would now have a house with one full bath and an extra shower. It seems better than having a house with only one bath and no bathtub.

I absolutely agree with Peteinsoni. It is a whole new world out there in real estate - unlike anything we have ever seen before. My realtor friend is telling me that in the last two years the only sales she has made are short sales or foreclosures. A "normal" sale is a rarity. I live in the Midwest that hasn't been bit the hardest by the real estate collapse. I can imagine what is going on in other markets. I am being told that unless your home is absolutely flawless, you might as well forget about selling anytime soom. So playing around with traditional layouts might not be a problem if you plan on staying in your home for a while, but I do believe it could be the kiss of death if you are forced to sell in the near future.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 7:02AM
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What about doing the shower that is needed for mom now. But design it so that it could be replaced by a tub as inexpensively as possible. (IE, tile design would stay at the top of the walls to where a tub would start. Drain/plumbing done in correct locations for either).

Have this in drawn plans, and then when selling, show potential buyers that shower was designed to be able to switch back to a tub. And give an allowance to do so.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:04AM
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One thing to consider is the situation that is in our existing bathroom: The shower stall (a fiberglass pre-formed deal) is the size of a tub. While I didn't care if we had a tub I did look at that when we were looking at houses and think that since the space was there, switching back to a tub wouldn't be that hard. If there were a way to construct a shower within the tub's footprint, perhaps a future buyer may see things like I did.

The other thing to consider is that perhaps there is a way to do this and plan to switch it back to a tub for resale. In other words, don't go all out on a fully tiled shower or anything, maybe even keep the tub if that's possible. Try to keep the drains in the same place, etc.

Um ... now that I look, I think that's what Juliekcmo just said. Sorry!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:36AM
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I was going to suggest the same as juliekcmo.

Rip out the tub, cap off unused plumbing so a tub can easily be put back in. Don't get one of those big solid shower units, use tile and keep plenty of extra (and grout!) 'just in case'. You're going to have to think about a shower door... that's actually a bigger decision. Do you want to spend the money on a nice frameless one (would appeal to buyer that doesn't mind not having a tub) or do you just use a curtain? (would appeal to someone that's going to put in a tub-less tile to repair).

Ripping out the bottom of the shower and plopping down a tub won't be a deal breaker if a prospective buyer loves the house in every other way.

I wouldn't offer an allowance right away unless they asked for it or I would use it in a counter offer. Your realtor will give you feedback-it might be necessary to offer it right off the bat.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:37AM
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Would a "sit and swing" seat/bench/platform work? Usually referred to as "tub transfer seats" or something similar. They have a sitting surface on the tub edge where she can sit down, then swing her legs into the tub, then stand and shower. Reverse to exit.

The seating area extends out on top of and sometimes over the tub edge. Here's one version, the clamp under the right side secures it over the edge of the tub:

Add grab bars if they're not there already.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:55AM
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Our real estate market is a seller's market here in BC, Canada, but could change at any time. I like the idea that several posters have of putting in a shower that keeps the drain etc for a tub. That way if we had to replace the shower with a tub it would work.
Thanks to the OP & everyone who has chimed in with suggestions, it really helped. PB

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Just adding my two cents to the debate. We purchased our home three years ago and it did not have a tub anywhere. I am a tub person and really missed it these past few years. We moved a wall and added a tub to the MB last month. Don't know if it will affect resale someday, it's not really a kid-friendly house, but my quality of life just shot up!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 3:54PM
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Ok, here is another thought. What about if you put in a steam shower rather than just a regular shower? Would that increase the appeal, since you get the therapeutic benefit of a bath with the convenience of a shower? Or am I wrong about what steam showers are all about?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:01AM
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Also, I was doing some reading a while back, and for ease of bathing with an assistant or using a walker,etc. --it was recommended to use a shower curtain and NOT a glass shower door.

I never would have thought of that myself. But if you think that mom may be using a cane or walker to approach the shower, and then need some help to being seated on a shower seat...that this would be much easier if there was just an open shower curtain while all this was going on. Then close the curtain during showering.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:14AM
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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and advice. I am forwarding all this to my friend and I am sure she will find great direction as she tries to make the right decisions, both for her loved one and for her financial future. Maybe I can even convince her to post pictures once she is done!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 7:03AM
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Even though this thread is older, I found it very helpful as we contemplate the same question in 2012: tub vs no tub in our 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home. We're leaning toward no tub. We're looking at the changes we want to make from the standpoint of 'aging in place'. We're both still relatively healthy, but want to be able to stay in our home as long and as comfortably as possible. (We've lived in our home for over 12 years and only used the tub once.)

I especially appreciate the posts addressing 'quality of life'! I can only recall one other life event when I got more advice...when I was expecting my very first child! :) Thanks everyone for sharing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sweet Pickles 'n' Gravy

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 6:43PM
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