How to Create a Budget for Your Walk-in Tub
Choosing a walk-in tub is an exceptional investment. Not only can a walk-in tub boost the potential resale value of your home – it is also an investment in the safety you and your loved ones will experience with a accessibility-friendly tub that allows for easy bathing without the dangers of a typical bathtub. But just as with any other home improvement, there is a sometimes significant price tag attached to this bathroom upgrade. Before purchasing and planning for installation, it is important to create a budget for your walk-in tub project. Continue reading for the steps you should take to create a realistic walk-in tub budget that fits your needs.
How Much Do Walk-in Tubs Cost?
To begin the journey to transforming your bathroom into a safer harbor, it’s important to first look at your finances and what you can realistically afford. But how do you know what you will need to afford? Here are some ideas of what various types of walk-in tubs should cost:
- Soaker tub: $1,900 – $4,000
- Bariatric tub: $2,600 – $8,000
- Wheelchair accessible tub: $2,200 – $6,500
- Walk-in tub/and shower combo: $2,500 – $6,000
- Lay-down tub: $2,000 – $5,750
- Hydrotherapy tub: $5,000 – $9,000
These numbers might seem high at first, and let’s be honest: Most of us cannot simply write a check for that amount. However, with a solid budget and a firm idea of what you can afford, you can get that walk-in tub and still feel financially comfortable with your decision.
Budgeting for Your Walk-In Tub
In addition to the costs for your walk-in tub, you might want to consider the things that would make you most comfortable. For instance, you might want a bariatric tub, but do you also want jets to make use of the massage power of the water? Or do you prefer a simple tub, but you’d also love to have the ability to use a shower wand – and that also expands the ability for other family members to use the tub as a shower for their own hygiene needs. If you want to add these things, expect to pay a bit more.
There is also the question of other upgrades or changes that are required for the tub. For instance, if the contractor pulls out the old tub and finds water damage or plumbing issues lurking behind it, that could cost more to fix or bring up to code.
Also, is your water heater big enough to handle the increased demand of a walk-in tub? Keep in mind that they are often deeper than a typical bathtub. If not, you might need a bigger water heater, or choose an in-demand water heater instead.
Begin your budgeting process by looking at the cost of the tub you want by itself. If you don’t know where to start, compare the prices of top walk-in tub brands.
Then, speak to a sales representative or walk-in tub installer about how the price might go up as you add certain elements. Although there are some things you can’t predict – such as water damage behind the existing tub – there are others you certainly can prepare for, such as the need for new plumbing lines or a larger water heater.
What Type of Walk-in Tub Can You Afford?
When planning out what you can afford, always begin with your biggest hopes. Sure, it might be well over your threshold of what you can afford. But you will figure that out as you go through the evaluation of your income, expenses, and what you can realistically handle. Then you can start shaving off those “wants” and coming down to the non-negotiable “needs” of your walk-in tub and bathroom renovation.
How do you know what you can afford? As mentioned earlier, most of us simply cannot write a check for the amount of the walk-in tub plus installation and any other issues that need to be addressed. If you happen to have money in a savings account just for that purpose, excellent! But if not, there are several other financing options, including a home equity loan.
Tapping Into Your Home Equity
Because a walk-in tub is often a safety necessity, a home equity line of credit can be your saving grace when it comes to finding ways to afford the installation.
Your home equity is the difference between what you owe on your mortgage and the appraised value of your home. For instance, if you own a home that is appraised at $250,000, and you owe only $100,000 on that home, your home equity is $150,000.
The home equity line of credit is awarded by your bank and is based on your home equity. In the situation above, you might get a line of credit for up to $150,000 (or more, depending upon your bank’s policies). You can draw against that credit to pay for improvements to the home. You might also qualify for a home equity loan, which is a single lump-sum loan you can use for whatever you might need.
Regardless of whether you choose a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (also known as a HELOC), the result is the same. You are tapping into your home equity to help you make improvements on the home without putting a serious strain on your finances. As always, be sure to talk to a financial advisor before making this decision.
Credit Report and Credit Rating
The equity you have in your home is not usually enough for a lender to make a decision on the HELOC or loan. They also take into account your credit score, also known as your credit rating, as well as your overall credit report. The credit report provides the information that informs the credit score.
The credit report breaks down how much credit you have, where you have it, how well you are at making payments, how much you owe versus how much you have available to borrow, and a long list of other things that factor into how well you pay your bills. The credit score is based on the credit report. For banks and other lenders, the credit score is a quick snapshot that can predict how likely you are to pay them back if they give you the financing you request.
It’s important to stay on top of your credit report and make sure all information there is correct. You are entitled to one fr
ee credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year – Equifax, Transunion, and Experian – and you can find that at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Work a “Top-Down” Budget for Your Walk-in Tub
Once you know the status of your HELOC or loan, you can start looking at what you can really afford for your bathroom remodel, including the walk-in tub.
Remember above, when we suggested you begin with the walk-in tub of your dreams? That’s your “top” idea for your walk-in tub. You might not be able to afford all those bells and whistles, which means taking a hard look at what you want versus what you actually need.
For instance, a bariatric tub might be a true need for those who are heavier. But adding extra jets for hydrotherapy might be more of a “want”. You could save money by cutting down on those wants and focusing only on the needs. These are decisions that can be made along with your doctor and family members. Then speak to the sales representative about the options. Keep in mind that they will likely try the “upsell” and hope to get more money from you!
It is also important to speak with your local walk-in tub installer. This person can give you a very realistic view of what your walk-in tub and installation will actually cost. The cost of the tub might be set, but the labor costs, as well as other things that might come up – such as creating a stronger underpinning or installing a new water heater – add to that price.
Hire the Right Contractor
Finding a good contractor who will be honest with you about what you can expect is very important. Modernize can help you with that by connecting you with contractors in your local area who have deep knowledge of “aging in place” and the things that help with that, including the many variations of walk-in tubs. Let us help you get in touch with the right professional to help you create a walk-in tub budget and transform your bathroom into a safer place.
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