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Special Report 05: Interviews with plumbers - Electronic Edition

Special Report 05: Interviews with plumbers - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith

[This is the Special Report 05 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]


We think plumbing is the biggest area for runaway costs on an owner-built project. So we studied the plumbers up close. Get into the lead-plated minds of some of the best we found. Eight pages, revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.

Topics Include:

  • 50% savings on 'foreign' fixtures
  • Septic system installation and cost
  • Can you save at the Kohler outlet?
  • PEX for hot and cold water supply
  • PEX in slabs where freezing occurs
  • Special tools on eBay
  • The Polaris water heaters
  • Owner-furnished plumbing supplies
  • Jetted tub comparisons
  • Tankless on-demand water heaters
  • Who sets tubs - framer or plumber?

Excerpt from Report:

"...Q: What do you suggest for a good job?

A: The way pipes are run, the material, how the holes are drilled.

A: Decide what you want before I start. Quality of material all the stuff. Manabloc is not bad. They are plastic, that can be a problem. How it's installed. Say the electrician nicks it, it could fail ten years later. You'd need a decoiler to do it right, it will take you longer. Proper communication. If everyone knows what's happening, it's okay. If you try to force something that's not good practice, you get problems. Don't dictate things.

A: I don't recommend Corian sinks. I like a good quality stainless, or a cast iron, though less so. You could put a solid surface countertop with a tile backsplash in the kitchen. Just thin set the tile right to the drywall.

No Manibloc, it has to be all copper.

Greenboard isn't good enough a backing for the tile tub and shower surrounds. Better to put mortar up to set the tile in.

Low flush toilets, gravity flush Kohlers. About $130. Cast iron tub upstairs. For a jetted tub, I like the WhirlJet 72" X 36" because it is self-leveling. You can avoid having a cultured marble deck or even a solid surface deck by tiling it. Lay the tub over it, and silicone it. These tubs have an air switch, not a timer switch.

Moen Monticello line faucets. Stainless. ISE Pro 333 In-Sink-Erator. In-line or island vent in kitchen. Shut-off valve for ice-maker under kitchen sink.

Washing machine box to control water flow both hot and cold. Hosebibs front and back of house, hot and cold water bib in garage. 32 grain water softener for about $600. We will try to fit a 75 gallon hot water heater in the utility closet, with a pan and floor drain.

European-style fixture in upstairs shower, also in master shower and bath. We will lay a pipe down before the footings go in, bring in a one inch meter from the city with one and a quarter inch service. Do the gas early."...

Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:

"I have a main spreadsheet, but I did side sheets on framing materials, plumbing, electrical, heating, and cement work. On sheetrock, I was off because the price on drywall increased dramatically."
J.M. & Nancy B.
Kirkland, WA

"This guy did something that I consider a no-no, where he put the vents in his exterior walls for plumbing.? He did it consistently. But I want it all vented in interior walls."
Dan & Gwen P.
Tucson, AZ...

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