Showers of Attention

In any construction project, emphasis is placed and money is spent on certain objects or features and not others. In bathrooms, the emphasis is on showers, vanities and whirlpools/jetted tubs, as it should be, since these are the most-used products in the room. Homeowners rated these products as the most distinctive elements of their bathrooms, in a survey on bathroom trends completed in March by
for Residential Design & Build.

Most of the bathroom work done by more than 600 consumers we surveyed was for their master bathrooms, with the rest of the work done in powder rooms. More than 30 percent of homeowners in this survey spent more than $10,000 on their bathrooms.

According to survey results, respondents say the shower is the feature that makes their bathrooms most distinctive. The countertop/vanity combo is second on the distinctive features list, followed by a whirlpool or jetted tub. Of those who have whirlpools or jetted tubs, most have both air and water jets. For those with one or the other, more have water jets.

The survey was done in partnership with Qualified Remodeler and Kitchen & Bath Design News magazines, and conducted by in Nova Scotia, Canada.

When asked to list the features of their showers, standard showerheads ranked first among survey respondents, with clear glass doors ranking second. Homeowners are evenly split between those with shower/tub combos and those with separate showers and tubs. More than 20 percent of the showers include multiple showerheads

The products most often specified for their bathroom work include, in ranked order, the vanity, lighting, shower, toilet, tub and storage/armoire. Finishing lower on the list are floor-warming system, audio/video equipment, sauna/steam room, towel warmers and finally a bidet.

These products were installed mostly in traditionally designed bathrooms, according to the survey. Contemporary-influenced bathrooms were second in popularity, followed by transitional designs.

Still the most popular bathroom faucets, chrome topped the list of top faucet finishes. The other finishes, in order of popularity, are brushed nickel, polished/satin nickel, stainless steel, antique brass and brass. Solid-surface countertops are ranked as most common, then marble, granite, laminate, engineered stone, limestone and finally glass.

No matter how satisfied homeowners might be with their finished bathrooms, regrets frequently surface. RDB asked survey respondents to list features they didn’t include that they wished they did, now that work is complete. Number one on the list of regrets is a floor-warming system, followed by an unusual storage/furniture/armoire unit, and then a whirlpool/jetted tub. Towel warmers were fourth on the list of top forgotten features.

A separate survey, the Home Design Trends Survey, conducted by the American Institute of Architects, reveals that bathrooms increasingly are designed with separate or double vanities. Furthermore, bathrooms include upscale products like multi-head showers, steam showers, heated floors and heated towel racks.

“Upscale products and features are going into bathroom design as well, noted by heated floors and towel racks, and even fireplaces becoming more common in homes,” says Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, AIA chief economist. Popular bathroom products and features, according to the AIA survey results, are: multi-head shower; steam shower; multiple vanities; separate showers; heat lamps; and whirlpools.

Service scores well
Homeowners also were asked to rate their designer/builder as excellent, good, fair or poor in several categories, and the results reveal good work all around. On providing product information and explanations of work, 74 percent gave ratings of excellent or good. On observing time schedules, 66 percent rated their builder excellent or good. Almost 80 percent gave excellent or good ratings on price and financing arrangements. In addition, 76 percent gave ratings of excellent or good regarding responsiveness to questions and concerns.

As proof that even the best-made plans can falter, however, more than half of survey respondents say they experienced unanticipated problems during the course of their bathroom construction. The top three problems include, in ranked order: unanticipated delays; conflicts with designer/dealer/installer; and additional costs.

The most common reasons why homeowners choose their construction professionals are referrals, price and the ability to coordinate the entire job. More than 70 percent of homeowners surveyed rate their satisfaction levels with their finished bathrooms at an 8, 9 or 10 out of a possible 10, suggesting that unanticipated problems are acceptable, as long as the end result is pleasing.

Unfortunately, 36 percent of the homeowners rated their contractors as poor or fair on post-job follow-up. But ultimately, 73 percent would recommend their builder/designer to friends or family.