How to NOT DECREASE resale value with an age in place bathroom design
Convincing your parents they NEED age in place bathroom modifications can be an uphill battle. None of us likes to think we have one iota less function than we used to have.
However, the stats tell a different story. Over 14 million adults over 65 fall each year. This is 1 out of 4. And 80% of those falls happen in the bathroom, which is of no surprise. After all bathrooms are slippery places with hard surfaces. And given these realities, convincing your parents they need a safer bathroom (even though you know it’ll be a process to get the job done) should be on the top of your list if you know they want to stay as far away from an independent or assisted living facility (and the costs which go with it).
However, although you want them to be safer, you may also be questioning how an age in place bathroom remodel (or minor bathroom modifications) will affect their resale value when the time comes to sell their home. And that’s an excellent question.
And I’ll be up front with you. There’s plenty of age in place bathroom products which are just plain ugly and WILL DECREASE resale value. They’re NOT what I’d want in my bathroom, and I’ll bet they’re not what you’d want in yours. Just think about these products:
- How about a white plastic shower pan with a ramp? Can you say an ‘old person lives here?’
- Or ugly white molded shower walls. Who wants a ‘home depot special’ shower insert unless that’s all you can afford?
- Or to put the ‘cherry’ (sarcasm intended) on the top, a safe – yet hideous, institutional looking grab bar. Reminders of your local hospital or beat-up truck stop ARE NOT welcome in anyone’s home! And your parents are no exception.
These products scream out – grandma (or grandpa) lives here. And an institutional looking bathroom WILL NOT help a home sell at a good price.
As a matter of fact, some buyers will want the bathroom redone – or will deduct from your selling price their cost of remodeling on ‘old person bathroom’ (and no, I don’t mean to be ‘anti-P.C., just keepin’ it real!).
So, the question is this. How can you not only create a safe bathroom for mom/dad – but also one which is appealing (yet cost-effective) and will be an asset which helps sell the home? And, in addition, if the ‘safe bathroom’ you try to convince your parents to do is also ugly, you’ll also have a hard time getting them to pull the trigger on this job, no matter how safe it is.
In this article I’ll provide 10 proven product ideas which will help boost the resale value of your parent’s home AND gives them an exciting new bathroom they actually will want to use and will improve safety. And as a bonus, these products aren’t uber-time consuming (or costly) to install. Do these benefits have you intrigued? Then check out the ideas below.
Product idea #1 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – DO NOT use a shower pan with a permanent ramp built in.
Let’s play a word association game.
When I say ramped shower pan, what’s the first word which comes to your mind?
If you said…..wheelchair…..you’re a winner (OK, I don’t know what you’ve won, but that would be the number #1 answer on the board if we were playing Family Feud).
And who exactly wants to buy a home with a wheelchair accessible shower unless they need a home with a wheelchair accessible shower? ‘Er that’d be no one!
So, if you’re thinking about a ramped pan because mom or dad does (or might need) a wheelchair down the road, how can you plan for this – but NOT make the bathroom look like a hospital-esque ADA bathroom?
This is where the removable ramp kit comes in. With a removable ramp, you can place it next to your (stylish) low profile shower pan when it’s needed. And if there comes time when it’s not needed –simply take the ramp away – and Wala, the ramped base never existed!
Product idea #2 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – DO USE a low profile shower pan.
Although it’s preferable for a wheelchair user to have a ramped pan, for most people a ramped pan isn’t required.
However, this is where low profile pans is a smart choice.
Most low profile pans have threshold heights from 1” to 3” tall – which are far safer than the 15” tub/shower you worry about them climbing over today.
Make sure you also look for a sturdy low profile shower pan which won’t flex while they walk on it, unlike cheaper fiberglass or acrylic units. In addition, it’s nice to know a premade shower pan vs. a tile basin will save installation labor time as well.
Product idea #3 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – STAY AWAY FROM WHITE, PLASTIC, WALL PANELS!
Nothing screams INSTITUTIONAL as much as molded, white, plastic, acrylic or fiberglass wall panels.
These panels look cheap.
These panels are cheap. They’re cheap because they’re stamped from molds in high volumes to decrease the price and made in wafer-thin designs.
And if your goal is to convince your parents to modify their bathroom – and not to make it look like a hospital room– you’ll need to pick your spots on where to upgrade the look, so you don’t downgrade the value of their property.
And a prime place to do this is in the shower surround walls. Instead of using tile (which looks wonderful when it’s installed but becomes a pain in the neck for them to clean – which you know they’ll try to do), a far better alternative are decorative shower wall panels. And decorative shower wall panels reduce labor costs by about 60 to 75% vs. a tile surround. And with shower wall panels you’ll get a long guarantee (just see how much the tile setter squirms when you ask him/her about their tile surround warranty).
And since depth perception can be a challenge for older adults, go with patterned wall panels which contrast with the color of their low profile (or removeable ramp) shower pan. This will help prevent falls.
An age in place bathroom can be cool first….and also be safe.
Product idea #4 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – DO NOT BUY institutional looking grab bars which look like something you yanked off bathroom stalls in a truck stop bathroom!
You’ve seen the institutional look grab bars for years in truck stops and hospital rooms. If there’s one thing which can turn a buyer (or your parents off) quicker than O.J. Simpson fled in his white Bronco, it’s an ugly grab bar.
Fortunately, todays there’s countless styles of grab bars which look like stylish towel bars. You won’t need to ‘apologize’ for your grab bar anymore. And here’s why – because most people won’t realize that’s what it is!
Product idea #5 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – DO NOT INSTALL ugly shower curtains. Where possible use a pivoting glass shower screen or full shower doors.
While a weighted shower curtain can be the right selection if mom or dad needs a caregiver to assist in showering, if this isn’t the case a glass screen or glass door – which provides ample to room to enter the shower (without a metal track at the bottom) is smart.
A pivoting glass screen if you’re unfamiliar with it – uses fixed glass with a small pivoting glass door at the end. It can give you a wide opening (which’ll be good if they use a walker) – yet does a better job keeping water inside because you can angle the door inward when showering.
And if you want the warmth of a full glass enclosure – which is simple to use – the bypass shower door (without the nasty track at the bottom) is popular.
Product idea #6 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – Get slippery shampoo and conditioner bottles off the floor (and throw out the tacky ‘dollar store’ shower caddy hanging over their shower head) and upgrade with sturdy shelves, grab shelves, or niches.
As my wife likes to say, “The time from wake-up to pretty takes longer and longer each year. And that may be why she’s got a slew of bathroom products in the shower and looks prettier than me.”
And if your parents (like my wife) have more than their fair share of showering products which are hard to reach (hung high on a cheap plastic shower caddy) or strewn on the shower floor (a slip hazard), it’s smart to upgrade shower storage while doing an age in place remodel.
Here’s 3 options you can consider
- A grab shelf. This is a dual purpose grab bar with a ‘two for one special’ shelf for products.
- Corner shelves. If you use corner shelves make sure they’re properly anchored!
- Stainless steel recessed niches. These niches provide a ton of space and aren’t a pain to clean like tile niches because there’s zero grout joints.
And as a final thought, when locating these storage systems –place them low enough they could be used by someone in a seated position or standing, especially if it’s possible they’ll need a wheelchair in the future.
Product idea #7 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – Get your seating right. Lean towards a fold down seat vs. a geriatric shower seat, or bench seat.
I know my advice in product idea #7 might be controversial, but I’ll admit I’m not a fan of bench seats. And the reason is they take up too much room. They make the shower smaller for everyone else who doesn’t need to shower in a seated position (or isn’t shaving their legs. And yes, my ‘manly’ hairy legs are still very much intact, thank you very much, so I don’t plan on needing a bench seat to shave them any time soon!).
There are cases – depending on their health conditions, a bench seat is needed, but if it’s not required I’d go with the fold down seat. It’s there when needed, and up when it’s not. It saves space. And besides, bench seats can be tricky for your contractor to waterproof.
And if at all possible, when you do put their home on the market – never, never, never leave the geriatric white shower seat inside the shower. The quickest way to ‘dampen’ the ‘hotness’ of your new shower is for a buyer to see a geriatric shower chair sitting in the middle of it!
Product idea #8 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – Make your doorway larger – and simpler to use.
There’s no one who doesn’t like a big doorway. And while the standard 32” inswing bathroom doors are normally not a problem, in an age in place bathroom they can be difficult for someone with mobility challenges using a walker or wheelchair to enter and operate.
Two better options – especially if you’re building a new bathroom – are to use a 36” wide door, or a pocket or barn door. Pocket or barn doors (if you have a corresponding wall they can slide into or over) are nice because they allow for a more spacious bathroom.
Product idea #9 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – Let there be light….and more of it!
I remember when my ‘kids’ (who are now grown adults – but I’m glad they’re getting older and I’m not!) would be (practically) reading in the dark. I’d look at them and ask myself ‘how in the Sam-Adams can they see what they’re reading?’
Well – there’s this unfortunate reality – our eyesight ‘needs improvement’ (as they might have said on our kindergarten report card) as we age. And in a bathroom, a dark bathroom is not only depressing, but it’s DANGEROUS!
So – how can you eliminate this danger, and brightens this area for mom and dad?
First try to maximize natural light.
So, if mom and dad have a window but it’s always covered by blinds to not give the neighbors a ‘show,’ consider a high privacy glass block bathroom window.
Or if there’s room –add a horizontal transom window for more natural light in the shower so they can shave more effectively. Or other ideas are to add a skylight, or solar wall tube to improve natural light.
And if it’s not cost-effective to improve natural light – consider adding sconces around the side of the vanity – or a LED back-light medicine cabinet/mirror combo.
Or see if your electrician can add motion activated lighting so they’ll be less chance they’ll stumble when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and fumbling for the light switch.
Product idea #10 to increase the value of an age in place bathroom – Consider a wall hung vanity – or a standard vanity where ALL THE STORAGE comes to them!
So – I’m going to ask you a question – but you don’t have to share your answers with the ‘rest of the class.’ OK – here it is….
On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being A-W-F-U-L) how would you grade your organization system INSIDE your current bathroom vanity?
And your answer is…..
If you’re like most people you might have graded it a ‘negative 5!’
Most bathroom vanities are storage disasters. It’s nearly impossible to know what’s lurking in the back of the cabinet. And it’s even harder for someone whose isn’t as steady on their feet to ‘attempt’ to bend down and find things (or to wash their hair in the sink) with a ‘standard vanity’ (‘er that’s code word for a cheap vanity the original builder put in).
So, what can you do to make a ‘cool age in place vanity’ which’ll be nice for your parents to use, AND will add resale value?
Here’s 2 ideas.
- A wall hung vanity. They’re sleek, contemporary – and can be set lower – if needed, for someone who will be using them in a seated position.
- A vanity with drawers, pull out shelves, and trays which come to you! Don’t settle for a vanity where there’s NOT a pull out for each and every storage area. If you go cheap on this – expect to have the disorganized mess you get with most vanities.
Have you learned about age in place product ideas to NOT DECREASE the resale value of a home? How can we help you next?
So, which of these 10 product ideas did you like? I’d love to read your comments below. Were any of them new to you?
And since I know this isn’t a project you (or your parent’s) do every day – you may want help developing a plan (and ‘selling’ this plan of an exciting new bathroom to them). And there’s three ways me and my company can assist you:
- #1 – If you’re in the Northeast Ohio (in the Cleveland/Akron area) and looking for a Cleveland age in place bathroom remodeling contractor call 216-531-6085 for a Free Design Consultation.
- #2 – If you don’t live in Northeast Ohio (which is likely most of you) contact one of our bathroom design specialists at 877-668-5888 for nationwide wholesale pricing on unique age in place bathroom products.
- #3 – If you’re looking for a contractor in your area (which isn’t in Cleveland or Akron Ohio), ask if a professional installing contractor in our nationwide dealer network can assist you.
Thanks for reading and putting up with my wackiness.
And BTW – if you’re an installing contractor and looking for unique age in place products to differentiate (and grow) your business (with products which DO NOT LOOK LIKE THEY BELONG IN A INSTITUTION) call Mike at 888-467-7488 to talk about becoming a bathroom products dealer.