Upgrade Your Showers to Entice Homebuyers

Attention to detail can help you install spa-like showers that boost a home's selling potential.

An upgraded master bath can give a big boost to a home's selling points. And within the master bath, upgraded showers are on the wish list for many homebuyers today.

"The days of a single shower head are gone for the discerning homeowner," says Barbara Green, owner of Sensibly Chic Designs for Life in Charlotte, North Carolina. "People want multiple shower heads and sprays, including water spraying vertically, horizontally and from hand-held sprayers. Steam showers are also becoming popular."

That popularity can result not only in higher sales appeal, but also price and margin leverage when these kinds of showers are included in an options package for a home.

"A basic upgraded shower could add just $500 or so, based on slightly better fixtures, for example," says John Starck, a professional kitchen and bath planner and president of Showcase Kitchens in Manhasset, New York. "If you want to do every option possible, including a steam system, you could be looking at $10,000 or more."

Showers Entice Homebuyers

Thoughtful installation required

However, these kinds of upgrades also call for a more thoughtful installation process. For vertical spas, that may include an overhead rain or waterfall shower, side-by-side or opposite wall body sprayers, and handheld sprayers. Such a configuration calls for four independent lines to feed each water source, including a pressure-balancing loop for body sprayers, temperature controls on each, and volume controls as needed.

Also, while most systems are designed to use a traditional 50- to 60-gallon water heater, higher-flow configurations may require an 80-gallon unit, as well as larger drain lines.

Some control units, such as the Smart Shower, may also require power to be routed inside the wall. 

Steam showers need extra space for the generator, and building the shower enclosure with the proper tile and seals to make sure it keeps the steam needs to be considered as well.

Thoughtful installation required

Test and test again

Make sure your installers do proper testing of all lines before you rough in. These more involved configurations mean more sweating and soldering in copper systems, which increases potential drip points. As with any plumbing job, it's important not to leave problems inside the walls that can result in havoc later.

"Adding the additional lines is simple before the walls and tile are up," Green says. "But you really need to make sure the installation is done well. I had a gorgeous house where a plumber did not properly tighten a connection and after a couple of weeks of use, the water found the place of least resistance and took down a beautiful chandelier with it."

All of Moen's vertical spas come with a detailed installation guide. Covers and test plugs are available to ease installation, while dummy regulator handles ensure proper wall depth while you build. That kind of attention to detail makes all the difference.

"What good is having a shower with all the bells and whistles if it isn't drop-dead gorgeous and impeccably constructed?" says Lori Gilder, owner of Interior Makeovers in Beverly Hills, California. "Installing specialty showers is a definite asset when it comes to selling a home, but it's important to do it right."

Proper Shower Installation