Andrew Wright
Special to The Union

Wildwood barrier-free shower

When I ask people how long they want to stay in their home, they often say that this is their last home. They came to Nevada County for the quality of life, and they intend to stay, barring changes in circumstances.

When it comes time to update or remodel their home, very few people plan to support themselves for the long term. Many folks have done a wonderful job planning for their financial retirement, but have not reshaped their home to provide a safe environment that can enable them to remain independent. Since most kitchens or baths last up to 30 years between remodels, it makes sense to plan for the future.

I find it refreshing when I meet an active retired couple who are thinking ahead. They know they will be able to stay in their home with greater flexibility, because of the proactive remodeling they are doing now.

We recently completed a master bath remodel in Lake Wildwood which includes a roll-in shower design. The owners were ready to tear out the 1980s bath with gold fixtures and fiberglass shower enclosure. The acrylic tub was rarely used.

Their wish list included a walk in shower, without a curb. We discussed the pros and cons of retaining a bathtub in the modest eight-foot by eight-foot bathroom. Ultimately, we decided to remove the bathtub to allow for a larger shower. They still have a tub in the guest bath for soaking or bathing grandkids. This is a common issue I see in many bath remodels, where most folks are okay with having at least one tub, not necessarily in the master bath.

The final layout involved moving the original four-foot by four-foot window to make room for the shower. The cost was minimal to reframe and do a siding patch. It’s impossible to detect the difference after the fact. I also recommended we widen the doorway from the bedroom to a minimum of 32 inches wide.

It is necessary to lower the floor framing to create a roll in shower. On a typical single-story home, this is not very difficult. We were able to hang the new floor system off the side of an existing girder and the side of the foundation in the crawlspace without pouring new concrete footings.

The floor tile has an accent strip that is a visual clue that you are stepping onto a sloped shower floor. The shower is enclosed on three sides, with one side as a tile-wrapped half wall with a frameless glass shield mounted above. No shower door means very minimal effort is needed to clean the space. The shower walls and floor tile are Positano Coral, which is a porcelain tile rated for heavy commercial use.

The owner’s preferred a single sink to the existing dual lavatory. Eliminating one sink allowed for doubling the number of drawers. Modern vanities are also typically 36-inches tall, compared to 30-inch vanities that were the old style. I always specify a roll tray under the sink for additional easy access storage. The rectangular sink is mounted below the granite counter, which has a tile splash matching the shower accent. The plumbing fixtures are modern single handle styling with a brushed nickel finish, a popular choice.

The project was completed in approximately seven weeks, including extra time for building inspections. We were able to perform all the work with access from a bedroom sliding door. The owners moved into a second bedroom during the process, so we were able to plastic off the affected areas and avoid impacting the majority of the home.

The owners are very happy with the results and have shared tours with all the interested neighbors. They can rest assured that their single story home has been equipped to support them now and in the future. I believe they have made a wise investment, which they can enjoy using every day. If they ever choose to sell the home, many potential buyers would appreciate the flexibility this master bath provides.

Andrew Wright is a nationally recognized Certified Remodeler and Certified Aging in Place Specialist. He may be reached at WrightBuilt Home Remodel & Design at andy@wrightbuilt.biz or via telephone 530-272-6657.


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The Union Updated Mar 28, 2014 11:14PM Published Apr 3, 2014 08:38AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.