Planning ahead is important in every step of a renovation, and with plumbing it’s an absolute necessity. Because plumbing rough-ins happen at an early stage of the remodel, you need to know exactly what you want right from the get go. Also, any changes to your home’s plumbing system requires a permit. In order to get that permit, you’ll need a detailed plan. In the majority of cases, your contractor will deal with getting the permits, so work closely with him or her on what you want and he or she will determine the best ways to make your wants and needs fit within the proper building and plumbing codes.
Your home’s plumbing system is pretty simple. It consists of two separate subsystems. One brings freshwater in, and the other takes waste out. But while this basic system is very simple, every house differs on how much water it needs, and where it has to go.
Before you call in a plumber make sure you have all of your supplies (vanity, fixtures, toilet, etc) on hand, and you need to be able to answer the following questions:
Make sure you know exactly how the bathroom(s) will be laid out and what types of fixtures and fittings you’ll be installing.
- How many bathrooms do you have?
- Where will the sinks be located? Will they be single or double sinks?
- Does the faucet require 1 or 3 holes, or will it be wall mounted?
- Are you installing a pedestal or cabinet vanity or a wall mounted unit that requires higher placement of the water lines and drain? Will your plumbing supply lines be exposed?
- Is there anything special about the toilets you’ll be using that would require specific plumbing needs?
- Will the bathrooms have a shower, tub or both?
- What kind of shower heads will you be using? Some of the more powerful versions require a dedicated water line.
- Do you want specific placement of the valves and shower heads? Are there bathroom safety bars or pot lights that need to be considered when placing these items?
- Will you have any other spa-like features that could require extra water and valves?
- Are you installing a standard or linear drain in the shower?
- Do you want the spigot in your shower? At what height?
- Are you tall? Do you want your shower head placed at a higher level?
- Do you want a larger water supply line to the tub for a faster flow of water?
- Do you need a bigger water heater if you’re planning a soaking tub or a multi-head shower? What are the extra associated costs?
- Where will the sink be located?
- Is there just one sink or will you have a wet bar nearby? And for that matter will you have a wet bar anywhere else in the house?
- Is there an attached filter that requires a separate spout?
- Does the fridge require it’s own water line? What about appliances like built-in coffee makers?
- Do you need a line for a dishwasher?
Laundry rooms are usually pretty standard in terms of their plumbing needs, but depending on the size of the room you may want to add special features
- Where will the machines be located?
- Do you need a sink? How close do you want it to the machines?
- Some laundry rooms have separate washing stations to accommodate large items (like dogs!). Make sure your contractor and plumber are aware of these requests.
Your plumber will be able to tell you what’s possible in terms of placement and building codes, but it’s very important that you fully understand your budget and needs – including the types of fixtures you’ll be using – so that the finished product matches your expectations.
Plumbing Permits and Inspections
As discussed, changes to your home’s plumbing system require a permit, and in order to close that permit and move on to the next phase of the renovation you will need to have the work inspected. Since the person who applied for the permit is usually responsible for notifying the building inspector when the work is complete, in most cases the contractor will take care of this and arrange for the inspection. But either way, as the homeowner it’s ultimately up to you to make sure your renovation is happening legally, so be informed and communicate with your contractor.
Depending on the work that’s been done, the inspector will be looking for a few different things. Their main purpose is to confirm the safety and legality of the system, which can involve checking fixtures to make sure the installation is correct, and checking vents, traps and lines. They’ll also be checking to make sure the plumber who did the work is properly licensed.
Once you pass the inspection you can move on to the next phase.
Photos courtesy of Skit Inc Uponor, and Frigidaire