Should You Keep Your Tub?

There are reasons to have a bathtub, and plenty of reasons not to. Here’s how to decide if you should keep yours or pull the plug

By Jennifer Ott  / Courtesy of Houzz.com

I’m in the throes of a major home renovation and, like many of you also going through the process, have had to grapple with numerous decisions. One question that came up recently is whether to keep a bathtub in the house. I thought it would be a simple decision, but I soon learned that there are pros and cons for each choice.

After our remodel is finished, our home will have 2½ bathrooms. My husband and I decided to forgo a tub in the master bathroom in favor of a large walk-in shower because we aren’t bathers. 

But for the second bathroom, which will primarily be used by our guests, we can’t agree on whether to include a tub. I’m on team “no tub” and would prefer a nice tiled walk-in shower. My husband, however, is concerned about future resale value and thinks we should include one.

So I decided to ask around to find out what the current thinking is on keeping the bathtub or getting rid of it.

Do Kids Need a Bathtub? 

When I took to social media to ask my friends and colleagues about my bathtub dilemma, several parents chimed in to say that a home absolutely needs a bathtub, even if you don’t take baths yourself, because it’s essential for bathing young children. Realtor  Deborah Lopez was one of the first to comment, saying, “As your real estate agent, I implore you to include a bathtub in your remodel!” The case seemed settled since, even though my husband and I don’t take baths, it would hurt our resale if we didn’t have one for future prospective buyers, especially those with young children. 

But then a funny thing happened. I started getting messages from friends with kids who have managed to live just fine without a bathtub. I decided to chat with a few of them about going sans tub.

Mac Shine, who hails from Australia and has two young children, told me that they didn’t have a tub in their previous home in Sydney. He said they bathed the kiddos in a small portable bathtub in the shower, which worked just fine for them. When pushed, however, he said prefers a house with a tub and appreciates the one they have in their current home. But since the item isn’t on his must-have list, he said, not having a tub wouldn’t be a deal breaker for renting or buying a home for them.

Another friend, Marisol Medina, recently purchased her first home in the Los Angeles area after a house hunt of almost 10 years. It doesn’t have a tub. As the mother of a 3-year-old, she thought she would miss this amenity but has come to prefer their new setup. 

Instead of a tub, the home has a huge walk-in shower with a bench and several shower heads, including a handheld shower. Medina or her husband simply step into the shower with their son for “bath time.” There’s plenty of space for everyone to move around and, the best part, no back-breaking bending over the edge of a tub. Medina admits that it needs to be a good-size shower, with a bench, to be comfortable, but they are happy with the setup and don’t miss the tub — except, of course, when she or her husband are craving a soak.

All’s Fair in a Seller’s Market

It started to look as though not having a bathtub wouldn’t harm resale value as long as you lived in a hot seller’s market, such as Sydney or Los Angeles.

To see if I could confirm this with a real estate professional, I spoke to Roger Steiner, a friend who is a real estate broker in Seattle, another tight market for buyers. He also advises having at least one bathtub, so you don’t limit the pool of potential buyers down the road. But with some pressing, I got him to say that if your home is in a seller’s market and not in a strong family neighborhood, you can likely get away with not having a tub without hurting your resale. 

He was quick to point out, however, that a seller’s market isn’t guaranteed to remain that way and that a neighborhood’s “family friendliness” also can change.

Maybe Don’t Scrub the Tub

In the end, it’s probably a good idea to have at least one bathtub in a home, even if the current dwellers don’t take baths. Plenty of people still love to soak and prefer to bathe their young children in a tub. Why risk turning off those future buyers? And even if you’re living in your forever home, you never know when life could throw a curveball your way. An unforeseen event like a new job or a death in the family could necessitate a move. 

But if you live in an area that tends to be a seller’s market, and your neighborhood isn’t made up primarily of young families, then you may be able to forgo the tub without any significant harm to your future resale value. 

Your turn: What do you think? Have you, or would you, live without a bathtub in the house? Please share your comments below.