Professional Builder
Editorial Director and Publisher

Patrick L. O’Toole is editorial director and publisher of Professional Builder, a 77-year-old publication that is read by 112,000 builders each month. In this capacity, he is also responsible for the editorial direction of Professional Remodeler magazine and HousingZone.com. Previously, O’Toole served as editor and publisher of Qualified Remodeler magazine. He started his career as a reporter for the Associated Press in Chicago. He holds a B.A. from Miami University and a masters degree in journalism from Columbia College.

Barrier-Free Showers: A Universal-Design Trend at PCBC

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of my first stops on the PCBC show floor was to visit my friend Dave Wilson of Liners Direct, a manufacturer of acrylic bath products that is pushing the innovation envelope in many ways.

In December the company launched its Build-A-Bath iPad application that helps builders, remodelers and consumers mix and match styles and colors using the wireless, big-screen tablet format. I credit their success with the iPad application and its high adoption rate among Liners Direct dealers as being the genesis of our internal editorial discussions on the iPad.

(We have dedicated 70 percent of the editorial content of the September issues of Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines to the transformative affect that table PCs are having on the residential construction market. Be on the lookout for those issues in print and online.)

Beyond the digital technology innovation, Dave's company has launched two new barrier-free show enclosures at PCBC -- with and without a seat. Barrier free showers have been a trend in universal design for many years, but they typically come at much higher price points than those allowed by Liners Directs new offerings.

(I will post photos when I can sync-up my iPhone photos with my laptop).

The new SR-BF32C-AW is a center drain replacement pan that measures 32 in. by 60 in. and allows barrier-free access for customers without need for an additional 12-inch ramp extending into the bathroom. The pan features a three-wall flange and includes a rubber threshold for the installer to mount to the front rail.

The second product, the Liners Direct Built-in Seated Shower gives its dealers a product to deliver an affordable, cross-generational shower enclosure for everyone from aging baby boomers and the elderly to those simply looking for relaxation. The built-in seat measures 16” tall by 14-1/2” deep and is 21” in length. It features a slip-resistant surface and a solid, three-wall flange for easy professional and water tight installation.  The seat also comes in a choice of four colors.

Wilson sees big potential gains as builders and remodelers assist their clients in upgrading their current homes. The tough appraisal and mortgage market has created conditions where many homeowners are making investments in their homes to stay for the long term. Both products are available through its dealer network right now.

More PCBC Notes to come.

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