Bob Vila “Misses the Mark” on RLTV for 50+

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Mr. Bob Vila is a clearly established “GURU” on home improvement networks around the world.  He’s been at this home-improvement task for a very long time, and has plenty of credibility for the mastery of his craft – no one would argue that point.  The reason for my writing is more precise than that.  Today Paul Lillig, a colleague of mine whom I know via LinkedIn, shared a recent video of Bob’s with me.  What I found fascinating was that this video was featured on a newer online TV network, RLTV, which apparently is specifically catered to the 50+ viewership crowd.  I think at face value this network is a great thing!

Home Again with Bob Vila – In this video episode, Mr. Bob Vila shows us how an apartment renovation project comes together. The remodeling process involves several contractors and specialists to achieve success.

Now there’s nothing special that I can see (as a professional designer) about the remodeling project Bob’s showing here.  He gets pretty specific and technical about the HVAC and the the plumbing fittings in the new shower area.  I’m not sure, at a higher level, why this video is on their 50+ TV network.  It’s pretty technical unless you are a 50+ watching it and wanting do be a D.I.Y. project person that is going to do their own plumbing rough-in work, pipe soldering, etc. – but I digress… 

My real issue is that on this 50+ network, Mr. Vila is completely remodeling a bathroom, and he’s managed to show the following design concepts, layout, and components that TRULY “miss the mark”.  (note: there is no reference to the client and their needs in the video, so I’m making some general observations about “who the network – and therefore the media / shows” are apparently FOR).

1) SHOWER with a CURB: The most glaring issue I have with this video is that Mr. Vila is installing a CURBED Shower!  What??  Why would you NOT, for a 50+ crowd, when you have completely gutted a bathroom, install a CURBLESS shower?  Why would you put a step impediment in a new design for a 50+ client?  It appears this was a MISSED OPPORTUNITY to think of the FUTURE of the client.  I see there may be challenges with a concrete upper floor in the condo complex, but Bob’s the GURU, he can figure it out… (I know I could).  As we get older, the blood flow & typically the sensation in our extremities lessens, and our ability to navigate steps and thresholds becomes a safety hazard.  Why would we put a trip hazard BACK into a design when we have the chance to remove one?

2) RAIN HEAD Fixture Choice: He refers to the Architect specs in his comment about the Moen fixture selection.  It has a regulator and mixer that allows for either the rain head ceiling shower or the wall body spray fixtures to be engaged.  What about a HAND HELD shower head that tracks on a vertical wall pole at different heights?  This is what you REALLY NEED in the years ahead for good bathing and hygeine in your latter 1/3 of life.  MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

As you get older, you get COLDER, and I doubt the overhead ceiling “rain” is going to keep you warm enough, or help you get clean… it’s just a luxury “image” fixture, not a practical use.  And the four “wall body spray” heads are similarly a selection of “luxury” over “practicality” now or in the future.  I would guess in 10 years, the client will wish they had different shower head styles installed.

3) BLOCKING for FUTURE:  This is in Florida, and clearly the complex is using concrete slabs on the floor levels, and metal studs.  If they are roughing in the plumbing, they’ve likely completed the “stud framing” work.  There doesn’t appear to be ANY HORIZONTAL blocking for A) a bench for a 50+ to SIT DOWN on, or B) future GRAB BARS that can be incorporated if/when the client may need them for stability at a later date.  MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

I know when my own 63 year old folks were remodeling their own master bathroom, I made SURE while the plan was to completely gut the existing conditions, I was able to mark up the drawings for my mom (as THAT designer had ALSO missed opportunities to PLAN AHEAD).  As I knew she was already “pushing off the TP holder” to get up from the water closet, I made sure that I changed the swing of the bathroom door for better maneuvering clearance inside the bathroom, and I also put BLOCKING behind ALL THE WALLS!  That way, if and when they are willing to accept that they could use some additional stability assistance while bathing, they won’t have to TEAR OUT the full height floor-to-ceiling beautiful tile shower surround they’d installed just a few years earlier.

So when at any time, you are doing remodeling and upgrades to your home – consider the FUTURE, consider the POSSIBILITIES, and PLAN AHEAD.  Hire a CAPS professional like ourselves.  As a licensed architect and “Certified Aging in Place Specialist”, we can save you more than we even cost, in the long run.  More importantly, we can make your FUTURE BETTER, keep you safer, happier, healthier, and HOME longer in your OWN HOUSE and COMMUNITY.

Even the GURU of home remodeling is “missing the boat” on taking advantage of OPPORTUNITIES to PLAN (and save lots of $money$) while the walls are open.  That’s why we’re so passionate about “Aging in Place” and “Universal Design”… It just MAKES SENSE.  It SAVES YOU MONEY.  It works better for EVERYONE, not just now, but for your FUTURE.  Get in touch with ADM Architecture or someone local to your own area who can help.


Image Credits – 
Rain Ceiling Showerhead:
Blocking for Future Grab Bars:
Shower Curb:

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3 thoughts on “Bob Vila “Misses the Mark” on RLTV for 50+
  • Joe Levitch says:

    Rather than missing the boat, I would say that “an opportunity was missed” in this episode. Clearly the issues you mentioned are valid but why shoot arrows at Mr. Villa? Obviously he is a well rounded, respected, and educated individual. Wouldn’t it be nice to recruit him to beat the drum of AIP. I’ll bet if you ask him nicely, he would gladly incorporate the pearls of wisdom that forward the ease of Universal Design in every home. The truth is that as professionals we can only do what our client’s want. The network would likely welcome some help in creating content too for that matter.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Joe – You always have good ideas and insights in this industry. Sometimes a TITLE for an article is all about catching the eye and intrigue to engage the “click through”. I give Mr. Vila plenty of kudos in the article. In fact I do recall hearing of them reaching out to EtMM / ADM (us) for some more input and feedback, but I don’t think it materialized into much, but it clearly got THEIR attention as well. Mission accomplished at some level. I actually thank you for the reminder, as I did follow up with them when contacted. I should dive deeper to see where it COULD lead, as you and I both know “it takes a village” and some established MEGAPHONES in the industry wouldn’t be a bad thing at all for sharing this important message!!! Cheers!

  • Karl says:

    uh-hmm before more people re-tweet or re-post this now 8 month old blog…Maybe an appropriate tact for your approach ought to be: how to add info to the channel’s website for the show in today’s market and the channel’s presumed market. This show is in syndication as it was produced from 1990-2005. Any attempt to relate it to a current channel’s target market is itself missing the boat. As you said you had no idea as to the original client… or date of production… 3 minutes of research would have helped you here.

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