Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


How could it possibly leak?

Let’s take a look at the Master Bathroom.

Everyone knows that a house with a master bathroom is worth more than one that does not---right?

This house was a 50’s ranch so there was only one bathroom and all the bedrooms shared it---even the master bedroom.  That is the way they did things in the 50’s.  Having only one bathroom made houses less expensive too.

Anyway, this homeowner decided that it would be nice to at least have access to the bathroom from the master bedroom, so they put a door in.  Here we can see the interior of the bathroom and the gorgeous sunken tub from the Master Bedroom.

The Master Bathroom 

I have friends that would not consider this a door.

Very narrow door to the bathroom 

But let’s assume you are able to get yourself into the bathroom to enjoy this custom sunken tub.

My first reaction when I saw this tub, to myself, was: “Oh S***!”  Now you might think that my reaction would be something more related to how cool it was or how creative it was.  However, I know enough about how things are built that my immediate reaction proved to be accurate.  While I don’t normally fill tubs all the way up, this one I did.  If this tub had leaks I wanted to know about it. 

filled tub

Sure enough it was spraying water into the crawl space from several locations and had been doing so for quite some time—at least when it was used as a tub.

There will be no “repair” of this tub, it will have to be redone completely.

While these sorts of “homemade” features can be fun---they better be done properly.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 25 commentsCharles Buell • September 22 2013 06:57AM


I've seen doors like that one.  I showed a home last year that had an opening to a bathroom that was about 18 inches wide, a pocket door that wasn't very smooth.

No interest.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Oh gosh.  And, repair/replacement when you only have 1 bathroom is not fun...nor convenient.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

What's the connection to the size of the door and the tub leaking.  I don't get it.

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) over 5 years ago

I love the idea of a sunken tub, but not a leaky sunken tub. I also like when I don't have to turn sideways to enter a room.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 5 years ago

I would think that many would have difficulty walking through that doorway without turning to the side a bit Charles. 

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 5 years ago

I know some people that it would be a challenge to get through that door! :-)

Tubs shmubs... give me a good shower anytime!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Looks are not everything , needs to function too. Oh that in a perfect world.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 5 years ago

Is that a granite pieces tub? Seams are not good! Once saw a one piece, claw foot tub carved out of marble. It had to be craned into the bathroom. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Lenn, it is just too narrow in my opinion

Debbie, it is porta-potty time! :)

Frank, none whatsoever, but before I could tell you the story of the tub, I had to get your through the door :)

Suzanne, this is one sunken tub you would not want to own

Tom, all but little kids I think

Fred, I like a nice bath now and then.  One of my guilty pleasures is falling asleep in the tub :)

Chuck, yes.  When form does not follow function bad things can happen in the world of plumbing---and elsewhere too

Jim, it is all plastic with caulked seams on a plywood base.  They even curved some of the plastic.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Way to go catching the must have seen a few more of these than you care to.

Posted by MaryKay Shumway, Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert (The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948)) over 5 years ago


I agree with you the door is too narrow.  The sunken bathtub seems so inviting but the leaks have to go.   It is always a good thing to use a certified plumber or contractor for these types of jobs.   They should be able to guide homeowners to help keep their homes safe and within building codes during renovations. 

Posted by Dinah Stallworth-Lewis, NATCHITOCHES, LA HOMES FOR SALE (Priority Real Estate LLC - 800.978.4847) over 5 years ago

MaryKay, homemade and plumbing fixtures can often be a problem

Dinah, while it might be possible to do this design satisfactorily---this approach certainly did not work

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Charles, you mean even an entire roll of duct tape won't solve that leaking problem?  Whoa! that's serious.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) over 5 years ago

Charles, the whole thing just gives me the creeps! Don't think I'd be a fan of that house.

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) over 5 years ago
"You can do it...and we can help" has been taken too far by too many people who should have left some home improvements in the hads of professionals.
Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 5 years ago

Charles, the things you find.  What a mess and thank goodness you did.  

Posted by Kelly Young, Colorado Springs Real Estate ~ 719-226-0126 (The Platinum Group Realtors) over 5 years ago

Lloyd, well maybe the "special" duct tape---but certainly not the regular :)

John, LOTS of issues with this house---and I am afraid my client agrees with you

Susan, isn't that the truth

Kelly, this would not be something I would want to miss and then "own" :)

Bage, I have a bag I would like to put you in :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Is this the frog on my head on the feature board?

I have a problem with tubs that I can fall into and would have a hard time (dangerous time) getting out of!  I see all the handles, but hey, if you have to use so many handles to get out of a tub, especially if slippery when wet (plastic), then it's too dangerous for my liking!

Spraying water everywhere?  And nobody knew it? 

Hey, the crawl space could be advertised as a second shower!  See, now I'm thinking outside the plastic, sunken tub box!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

In my opinion frogs cannot be featured enough.


Very kindly,



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Charlie... I think the small trailer I lived in when I first left home was about that wide, but it didn't have a sunken tub. Infact, not tub, just a small shower that I think was about as wide as the door, 20 inches. That sunken tub looks like it would be rather expensive and a job to install. I'd sure like to get it right the first time.



Posted by Rene Fabre, Marketing in the Digital Age (First American Title) over 5 years ago

Bathroom remodeling can be quite expensive as this one in the picture. Ouch in the pocket

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 5 years ago

That's why you need an inspection...Eye candy does what it is supposed to do...We have to get past that...good one here

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

Hi Charles. I got stuck with one of these that my inspector did not catch. How did you know it was gonna leak?



Posted by Charlotte Luxury Real Estate, Eli Magids (Keller Williams - Ballantyne Area) over 5 years ago

Charles, clearly this is one of those cases where it seemed like a good idea in his head. What a disaster!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or over 5 years ago

Jay, this one is almost deep enough to need a guard :)  Who goes in their crawl space to see if the tub is a shower?  :)  And yes---that be the frog on your head.

Rene, this was a very expensive tub---just poorly done

Harry, pretty much a do over for sure

Richie, it has the wow factor but also the ouch factor

Eli, just intuition---the odds were in my favor with something like this

Tom, clearly the "vision" was there---just not the execution.


Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago