Does Replacing my Bathtub with a Shower Hurt my Resale Value

Does Replacing my Bathtub with a Shower Hurt my Resale Value?

When we moved into our new condo four years ago, the first thing I said to my husband was, “How soon can we renovate the bathroom?” Downtown, spacious, bright and modern, it was the condo of my dreams, but the master bathroom? It was the stuff of nightmares. The design was outdated and the layout was cramped, mostly due to the large (beige) bathtub taking up a good amount of space. Not only was the bathtub taking up space, but there was a large walk-in shower completely separate at the foot of it, leaving very little space for manoeuvring in this reasonably-sized space.

an old bathroom
The “before” photo with the dust bunny-gathering bathtub and beige tiles.

It took us nearly three years to tackle this renovation project, during which time the bathtub was used once…to wash our dogs. The other two years and 364 days, it was where we threw dirty laundry, cooled beverages for a few soirees and, more generally, kept our dust bunnies.

When we sat down to finally redesign the bathroom, we asked ourselves the obvious question:

Do we need a bathtub at all?

Sure, we could create space by combining the shower and bath, but we had recently fallen in love with the open-concept walk-in shower idea and the bath/shower combo would ruin that clean, modern look. We loved the look of the modern take on freestanding tubs, but that would leave us with space issues again and, with the minimal use our previous bathtub got, it seemed like a poor investment.

We decided we wouldn't personally miss a bathtub, but the question that bothered us most was: would removing our bathtub reduce the value of our condo? We needed to investigate.

Effect on resale value

a ceramic bathtub
Does getting rid of your bathtub mean getting rid of value in your home?

We turned to our REALTOR®, Mike Sheehy, an expert on urban Toronto real estate who has walked clients through hundreds of condos. We knew Mike would have insight into buyer preferences. He didn't seem too concerned.

“Ideally, a home should retain at least one bathtub, although, if the demographics of a condo building is 18-35, a nice walk-in shower shouldn't devalue the unit.”

We didn't have the demographic breakdown of our condo complex but judging from the neighbours we encountered, the residents were generally younger, childless couples. There were a few 35+-year-old residents (including us), but they were either professional singles or couples with dogs. Unscientifically, we couldn't see a reason to keep the space-hogging bathtub.

It turns out we were on trend with wanting to get rid of our tub. In the midst of our renovations, the New York Times published an article in their real estate section titled Ditching the Tub. In cities like New York, where real estate is expensive and space is limited, many developers are remodelling condos to only include showers, giving the illusion of a bigger bathroom. In one example, they spoke with an associate broker overseeing a condo conversion in Manhattan who:

“…told the developer to replace the tubs in the studio and one bedroom apartments with fancier showers to make the spaces feel larger. “When the building went on the market, people freaked out for the bathrooms,” he said. “Having the stall showers instead of the tubs was a big selling point.”

Caution, though, because removing a bathtub isn't necessarily a selling point. In tiny NYC condos, it makes sense to economize space, but getting rid of a bathtub when you have space may lead to other consequences.

a bathroom with blue tiles on the wall
This would be considered a “roomy” Manhattan bathroom.

HGTV celebrity renovations expert and real estate investor Scott McGillivray wrote about this topic earlier this year and warns against making this decision too lightly:

“(T)here's a trend towards getting rid of tubs completely and instead going for spacious, stand up shower stalls. While this might suit your personal tastes, it's not a great idea when it comes to ROI (Return on Investment).”

a baby boy being bathed in a kitchen sink
What a young parent imagines when they hear a listing doesn't have a tub.

Ultimately, we made the decision to remove the bathtub and opt for extra space. We love the openness and added storage, but we've yet to test whether this has longer-term, financial consequences. Seeing as we intend on living in our condo for many more years, the verdict is still out.

a modern bathroom with a shower and black floor tiles
After removing the bathtub. Look at all of that space! And storage!

At the end of the day, you need to weigh multiple factors and make the decision that is right for you. Need help? Start with this fun decision tree. Enjoy and don't forget to share photos of your before and after:

a decision-tree infographic about whether or not you should keep your bathtub

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