Take a Walk on the Shower Side: Converting a Tub to Walk-in Shower at the Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta

It was a disaster — well, almost.

If the design of the bathroom remodel was followed it could actually risk collapsing the building. During a recent remodel, a Conference Center Hotel in Atlanta was, as many hotels are these days, converting the alcove tubs in the bathrooms into more elegant and usable walk-inshowers. Preformed Acrylic shower bases were specified because of the well known benefits of lower cost and better dependability. The old alcove tubs, of course, had drains at the end of the tub. The waste and overflow are on the outside of the tub vessel putting the existing waste pipe connection a foot and a half away from a center drain shower pan.

Even with an end drain shower pan as was specified in the hotel in Atlanta, the waste pipe is critical inches away from the shower pan drain. The plan was to cut an additional hole underneath the shower drain location and re-plumb the waste pipe below the floor.

As it turned out, this plan quickly became un-workable. The concrete slab floor could not be cut because the tension rods that kept the floors stable ran crosswise to the cut.

Eyes on the Job

Fortunately, Ryan Hilliard, Senior Project Leader for the General contractor Land-Ron of Orlando, Florida was on the job when the first cut was attempted. He immediately recognized that the plans and scans they had on the floor had led them to believe that there were no obstacles of concern in the concrete.

However, when they began to cut, it quickly became apparent that, as Ryan puts it, “Tension bars were running every which way in the concrete”. This meant that making the cuts that were needed for the installation of all the showers in the building could seriously destabilize the building. This was a nightmare scenario the installation of 155 showers in 155 hotel rooms was stopped cold, stalling the work on all those bathrooms. Hilliard had the shower pans and all the pipe fittings on hand. The workers were on site and construction had to stop cold. It seemed that any quick resolution would require big changes to the approved plans, extraordinary expenses or both. Caught between a serious hazard and a costly construction delay, Hilliard needed the help of others in the company and he needed it immediately.

Out of the Box

Product Used: SD372(-SS/BN/MBL) 2pc 2” Brass Side Outlet Shower Drain for use with molded Shower Bases

At a time like this when there seems to be a huge, expensive problem, its good to try to think “out of the box”. Is there something new out there that can solve the problem?. That kind of ”out of the box” time and money saving solution has become something of a specialty at OS&B.

OS&B is the Canadian company that invented the now ubiquitous ITD direct drain connector for free standing bath tubs. Since its introduction, the ITD has saved plumbers, builders and home owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted labor, material and time. The replacement of tubs with showers at The Conference Center Hotel remodel in Atlanta was the perfect fit, and is just one example of a significant trend in the industry.

The old standard alcove tub/shower is out of style. In both hospitality and residential remodels, tubs are being replaced all over North America with walk-in showers. The process seems seems simple enough; a standard 60 x 32 inch tub could be removed and a shower of roughly the same size could be put in its place without too much trouble. There’s already plumbing in the wall and floor, right?

That is, until you go to connect the shower drain to the old drain that served the tub. Its hardly ever in exactly the right place. With standard plumbing fittings, your only choice would be either to open up the floor and re-plumb the drain or somehow raise the shower up higher to allow a standard drain assembly and a stock-sized 90 degree elbow to be fitted together to make the connection with the existing waste connection. Either choice is costly and the raising of the shower actually partially defeats the purpose replacing the tub with an easier-to-enter shower.

To answer this need, OS&B engineered The Side Discharge Shower Drains. These are a line of drains specifically designed to make that connection easier and less expensive. The key innovation is that the drain body and the 90 degree elbow are incorporated into one fitting with the lowest possible profile

As Hilliard began to look for ways to push his project forward safely, his first move was to talk with one of his colleagues at Land-Ron. Eliud Garcia, Land Ron senior estimator, is a great internal resource for his knowledge about both the products and (most importantly) the people who can help solve problems. As soon as Hilliard informed Eliud about what was going on. Eliud went to work. A computer search led him to the web site of OS&B where he found The Side Discharge Shower Drain and a handy list of all of OS&Bs reps. His local rep was Anthony Blanda of GTS Sales. Anthony put him in touch with Greg Gillespie, OS&B’s Business Development Manager for the U.S. and things rapidly fell into place from there.

Back at the construction site, Hilliard got the information about the Offset Drain fitting and could see that the compact configuration would allow it to be installed under the pre formed bases he had on hand without either cutting the floor or having to raise the base above floor level. This was the perfect solution to what had looked like a nightmare of huge cost overruns.

But what about the construction delays that were already compounding? Supply chain issues and shipping delays are a part of every day life in construction. How many of these could they get and how soon could they get them?

Gillespie stepped in to help. From the time of the first call on Thursday, the first 30 (exactly what was needed to keep construction on schedule) was released and shipped the next day- less than 24 hours later! That “emergency” order was delivered to the job site the next Monday – a turnaround of only 2 working days! The balance of the order for 155 pieces was shipped within the week.

And the bottom line benefit was not just saving the job from delay with all the attendant labor and financial costs. Hilliard says that cutting the floors as had originally been planned would have much more costly than running the pipes with the OS&B fitting. He estimates that not having to do the cutting the floors alone was a savings in excess of $20,000.00. Add to that, the roughly $2500 that was spent for the floor x-rays, and its obvious that specifying the Side Discharge Shower Drain from the outset would have been much less expensive and better design.

This story is being repeated over and over on big jobs and small. Another recent example is the Stockton, California Hilton, a remodel of 198 guest rooms. The Side Discharge Shower Drain is catching on and winning over architects, contractors and engineers from coast to coast.

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OS&B®, founded in 1975, is a leading Manufacturer and Distributor of Plumbing Products. Located in Oakville Ontario, OS&B is Canada’s largest manufacturer and Distributor of Waste & Overflows, Traps, Lavatory Drains, Tubular Brass Fittings, and various other plumbing parts.

A variety of carefully selected OS&B products including shower drains and p-traps chosen for their popularity and versatility are available and sold by MarketNet through and direct by phone.