Tuesday 7 December 2021

Building? Put in showers, not baths

 The house that I'm renting has an en suite bathroom with a really awesome shower - one of the best of my life. The shower spray comes from above, pressure is great and flow is perfect. I use it about half-way; it can blast more. The shower is located at the 'end' of the narrow bathroom so it is shaped by the back and side walls. It is 90cm wide and 115cm long, which is really roomy. It doesn't have a door - instead a curtain, which I prefer. The floor has a small lip to keep the water in, should the drain be blocked.

This bathroom doesn't have a door. This saves a ton of space. A sliding barn door would be cute, but isn't really necessary. An option could be a curtain across the doorway for privacy. This bathroom is small, space efficient and one of my best ever.

The other bathroom is a little bigger but it has a bath. A big ass, fancy, deep, large, stand-alone bath. We've been in this house for a year and only two guests have used the bath - with a few centimetres of water. We're in a water-scarce country so frolicking in a bath is a no-no. Doing so would leave one wracked with guilt - or should.

This bath really is a white elephant. They could have made the bathroom the same size as mine, given the bedroom another half meter and put in an identical shower. It would have been cheaper to put in a shower too. Instead, this bathroom is used only for the loo and basin.

A lady who I know is moving from her apartment in town to a smaller apartment in a more cost-effective suburb. It isn't quite location/township but it is located outside of the main part of town, closer to the highway and industrial area. The apartment is new and is part of a good-looking, low-cost apartment complex. Rent is a bit less than half of what she is currently paying. This new apartment, and all the others in this new development, have... baths.

You don't have to be a water management expert to know that showering - especially a five-minute or quicker shower, uses less water than an unsatisfying bath in a tub filled to a few centimetres of water. 

In a shower's favour too, you can turn on, wet yourself, turn off, soap yourself, turn on, rinse yourself and then be done. This results in huge water savings. This uses significantly less water than five minutes of constant spray. 

Interestingly, these apartments were built without geysers - not even the solar geysers commonly seen on roofs of new low-cost housing developments. She already knows that they will need to heat water to wash.

Two weeks ago, we had torrential downpours and flooding that left most of the town without water for two to three days. I boiled water in the kettle, put it into a plastic basin on the shower floor, added a few jugs of cold water and had a really decent wash. This is far easier to do on the flat, tiled floor of a shower than in a bath. 

This lady says that even in her current apartment, they don't always turn on the geyser as they watch their electricity spend. Some nights they have a wash-down using a basin of heated water and other nights they get to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower. They won't have the option of a shower at their new place.

The argument for baths is usually that one needs a tub to scrub young children and that showers and young children don't work very well. I'm not convinced that this reasoning holds any water. Young children are small enough to be able to bath in a large plastic tub. It can be filled with water from the shower hose and as you stand in the shower area, splashing put a little child into a large bath filled with a splash of water. A good-sized basin requires substantially less water to fill.

I really can't figure out why new developments are being built with baths instead of showers; this applies to the house that I am renting too. These developments are for tenants from lower income brackets. When your tenants are watching consumption and spend, a shower space where they can also wash from a tub, makes the most sense. 

And then there is the irrefutable truth that South Africa is a water-scarce country and that the days of a bathtub filled with hot, steamy water are long gone. Showers are in. For all ages.

For me, a hot shower is a marvel and an absolute luxury.  Even though I have the means to shower every day, I am very grateful for five minutes under the water. I am fortunate that I'm able to take a shower every day. Not everyone is.

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