When touring a home you’re considering buying, the kitchen and living room might be the first places you size up. The bathroom might be a place you glance at, but beyond checking that it exists, few lavish much attention on the loo.
But we’re here to say you should give each and every bathroom a closer look.
Think about it: The bathroom is often where you begin and end your day. So if it’s a nicely designed space, this can really put a spring in your step as you set out to face the world, or pave a smooth path to a restful night.
But if your bathroom is cramped or poorly designed, it can throw a real wrench in your mornings and nights. Plus, fixing a bathroom via renovation can be expensive, since moving plumbing fixtures is rarely a walk in the park.
All of this is to say that, when you’re shopping for a home, it’s important to make sure the bathrooms are up to snuff. To help clue you in on what to look for in a bathroom, here are some red flags that spell trouble.
1. No shampoo niche
It’s a small thing to be sure, but details matter in the bathroom. A spot for shower products, a razor, and a bar of soap keeps clutter off the floor and removes potential tripping hazards.
“You could add a niche later or just hang up a wire basket to hold shampoos, but I always look for a cutout or built-in shelf in the shower,” says Elise Armitage, the design pro at What the Fab.
2. Too few towel bars
Draping your wet towel over the door frame is unsightly, and no one wants to exit the shower and traverse the room while dripping water in order to grab a towel.
This is a huge pet peeve for Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.
“Many bathrooms either don’t have a towel rack or it’s inconveniently placed, so we like to install robe hooks near the shower or tub as they don’t take up much space and work for both wet and dry towels,” she says.
Towel bars are relatively easy to install, says Cristina Miguelez, a home improvement expert at Fixr, “but some people will want to purchase them from the same company that makes the faucet to get a matching finish and style.”
3. Few or poorly placed power outlets
Not having enough outlets is a huge red flag, but spotting this flaw is tricky, notes Kara Harms, the design mind at Whimsy Soul.
“Outlets are usually the last things buyers clock when touring a home—but they end up being one of the most important elements to look for,” she shares.
In fact, Harms recently visited a home without a single outlet in the master bath.
“How are you supposed to use styling tools or charge your electric toothbrush?” she asks.
4. Paltry storage
Space for one tiny cabinet won’t hold more than a few rolls of toilet paper and maybe the plunger, which means you have no room for cleaning supplies, personal care items, and other bathroom necessities.
5. Exposed toilet
No one wants to see the toilet when they’re coming down the hallway. What’s worse, of course, is if the toilet lid and seat are up, allowing everyone who passes by to see deep inside the bowl. And yet, if the toilet is positioned right in front of the entrance, there’s just no hiding it.
A better look is a swap of the toilet and sink so that the sink is the fixture that’s on view when the door is open. An equally costly fix would involve installing the toilet in its own section, cordoned off by a pocket door.
6. Poor ventilation
Many bathrooms don’t have a window, but proper ventilation must be present to pass code, says Miguelez.
“No ventilation is a major red flag, so look for a vent that at least carries humidity up and out of the house—not to the attic or space above—and this will fight mildew and odor,” adds Miguelez.
7. Cramped toilet
Enough space around the toilet to maneuver is critical. If the toilet is too close to the wall, sprays and splashes are inevitable. If the bowl abuts the sink in any way, standing over the sink is simply awkward. The pros suggest at least 15 inches between the toilet and any walls and at least 24 inches in front of the bowl (or the bidet, if that’s the type of fixture you have).
8. Loose shower door
A poorly mounted or loose shower door is a hazard, says Miguelez.
“It should close securely, without dragging in any way, and if it’s a sliding door, it shouldn’t rattle in its frame,” she says.
Your best bet? Test the doors in the showers you tour to see if they bump along or glide smoothly.
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