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Plumbing tips for homebuilders

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Putting the right plumbing design into a new home is a tricky thing. It may seem like an easy job, but there are always guidelines and regulations to consider. There are also plenty of benefits far beyond the convenience of a well-designed room.

If you’re an architect and your work includes plumbing, here are some useful tips that will help you achieve the best result.

Always check regulations with relevant building authorities

Plumbing is an art that requires careful consideration and planning. It must match up to relevant local, national, and even international standards, such as those in the International Plumbing Code. There are codes that will dictate how many units are attached to a specific fixture, for example. Other building codes address issues such as ventilation and drainage, pipe diameter, and storm water removal. So make sure you know your local building code regulations. These will likely differ from state to state, and even the most knowledgeable architect or plumber can be caught out by recent changes and updates to regulations.

Building authorities often also require pre-approval of draft designs before any plumbing work can begin. A thorough planning process will ensure that nothing is missed or drawn up incorrectly.

Choose the most efficient plumbing design

Your plumbing design should be practical, cost-effective, and efficient. You want to minimize the materials required and keep all pipework and plumbing systems in a reasonably central location. The water heater, e.g., should be close to the bathroom and kitchen, areas that use the most hot water. Less copper piping is therefore required, and less heat will be lost as hot water travels throughout the house. It is also recommended to simplify the number of wet walls and plumbing stacks. So, create a design where a bathroom and kitchen, or even laundry, will share one common wet wall. In a multi-story house, design the layout so a second-floor bathroom is located directly above a ground-floor bathroom. That way each wet area can share the same drain, waste, and vent system, as per local guidelines. It also simplifies future plumbing repairs as the tradesperson can easily access localized pipework.

How important is design?

You will find many styles where exposed pipes and fixtures suit perfectly. It could be exposed faucet pipes in a farmhouse-style kitchen or bathroom or creative pipework as a feature piece in a modern loft. These choices will inevitably influence associated fixtures. A copper sink can be tied together with exposed copper piping, for example. Alternatively, any recessed cabinets, hot water boilers, or shelves will need to be designed around plumbing within the walls. As will the design elements of installing a new toilet with a concealed cistern.


Yes, size matters!

Whether you have long-lasting plumbing depends on correctly sized materials. A sewage system that’s too narrow will frequently block, while large hot water pipes will lower heat transfer efficiency. Local jurisdictions will have their set plumbing code for you to follow, so in reality, you should know precisely what you’re working with. These codes will clarify things like the need for a 1 ½ inch pipe for a washing machine or the drain size for a system with multiple toilets. At the Pipe Doctor, we are familiar with all the local regulations and can help you order the right materials.

Save water if you can!

There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to reducing water wastage through irrigation and recycled water. One simple solution, for example, is reusing rainwater and stormwater for flushing toilets. Commonly referred to as greywater, water that comes out of a washing machine, bathroom sink, or shower can be reused in the home if appropriately treated. Greywater treatment systems can be installed in a home for as little as $1,000 or close to $20,000 for a more advanced unit. Treatment systems filter out harmful bacteria and chemicals so that your recycled water is perfect for gardening or flushing a toilet. If treated thoroughly, greywater is also safe for drinking.

Blackwater, which is water from the toilet or even the kitchen sink, should never be reused. It has come into contact with more severe contaminants, and a home-based greywater system does not have the necessary capabilities to make black water potable.

Additionally, also look at the best way to incorporate a rainwater system into your home’s design. Key elements include the placement of a rainwater tank and a well-designed stormwater system.

The Pipe Doctor is happy to give you give you any plumbing related advice while you’re in the process of building your dream home. 

call: 508-775-6670

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