While summer is the peak season for home renovations, a lot of homeowners actually undertake renos in the winter as well. Perhaps as a holiday gift to themselves, perhaps as a New Year’s Resolution, or maybe because, after entertaining guests over the holidays, they finally saw their house through someone else’s eyes: homeowners tend to hit the ground running in January with their new home renovations.
Oftentimes when homeowners discuss renovating a house, what they’re really talking about is renovating either the kitchen or bathroom. At least in our experience, those tend to be the two rooms that receive the most focus and the most money. It makes perfect sense: the bathroom tends to get grimy over time, and the kitchen sees a similar sort of wear-and-tear from both water and kitchen splatter.
Both those projects, however, often require a great deal of work to be done behind the scenes, with homeowners electing to tear down walls and rearrange the layout. This is something we’ve discussed before on this blog, but the point bears repeating: if you’re going to be tearing down a wall, you might as well have your plumbing inspected by a plumber with experience serving Toronto homes while you’re at it. Not only is it economical, but it makes practical sense as well.
Even if you aren’t planning on tearing down a wall, but still want to fully renovate your kitchen or bathroom, you should pay some attention to plumbing. As we’ll discuss, your behind-the-scenes plumbing ages in the same way your walls and tiles do and deserve the same kind of makeover. This article will run through a few common examples of plumbing renovations that can work in tandem with your New Year’s renos, making your house run more efficiently.
Some homeowners try to save money by skipping pipe upgrades after demolition, but we would like to stress again that plumbing and drain systems get older, just like walls and tiles. The ageing process makes pipe joints weaker, which creates the potential for leaky sites. It is much easier, and more intuitive, to upgrade your plumbing when everything is accessible, such as after a demolition.
Also, because it’s easier, it costs less, because the plumber spends less time doing the work. It may seem like another added cost, atop an already expensive renovation, but such work will never be cheaper than it is when your pipes are open and accessible. Our advice is to factor in the cost of plumbing renovations initially, when you do your reno budgeting.
Preventing Installation Errors
To prevent mistakes — or even to fix existing mistakes in pipes connections – it is important to hire a licensed plumber during your renovation work. For example, a plumber might take into consideration that the new sink you want to install will be a pedestal type one, in which case he/she can relocate the drain to the center of the fixture. This allows you to hide the P-trap behind a leg upon finishing, which looks and functions a lot better. You can see from the photos of our past projects in this post (the above one is of a pedestal sink) that having a plumber makes a big difference in installation.
Some modern bathroom vanities – the sink basin and surrounding storage – that we’ve seen are wall-hung and come with drawers. This “floating effect” is really popular right, and it looks very cool, but in order to pull it off properly, the plumbing preparations must be very precise. If you are considering a floating bathroom vanity, get expert plumbing services in Toronto from Mister Plumber.
Another important task to get your plumber to do is check the vent pipe. If the slope of the vent pipe is off, it could cause gurgling sounds in the sink or a backup of solids in the pipes. These may sound like minor concerns, but, if you’re already going all out on your renovations, you might as well make sure everything is perfect. The last thing you’d want is to spend a load of money on your bathroom renos, only to find that something was improperly installed and therefore gurgling away.
Toilet installation is tricky business and requires a deft, professional touch. The distance from the toilet’s flange to the back wall has to be verified and adjusted if needed. Most toilets require a space equal to 12” on the finish, from the center of the toilet flange back to the wall. For this, another inch or so has to be added at the time of rough-in for drywall and tiles. These are the sorts of small but significant considerations that it’s difficult for homeowners to make on their own.
Setting a toilet without a plumber is also inadvisable, as setting the flange height, securing the closet bolts and wax ring, and making everything level can be very tricky, and if done wrong can result in ongoing, nasty leaks. Sure, you can bunch of DIY articles online, watch a few YouTube videos, and maybe have a successful installation, but for the inexpensive prices we offer to do it for you, what’s the use?
Here is some advice for all the homeowners out there: when budgeting for a New Year’s renovation, make sure you leave some money aside for plumbing, and hire a professional plumber at the beginning of the project, to avoid costly problems down the line. Before starting your project, make a decision about what kind of plumbing fixtures you are going to use and provide those specifications to the plumber.
If you’re going to be doing any demolition, you might as well get your pipes checked. If you aren’t planning on doing demolitions, but you’re installing new fixtures, it’s still a wise idea to call us today and have us take a look. Whether you’re doing it as a gift for yourself, a New Year’s Resolution, or “just because”, make sure your renovations are done the right way!
Different people have different philosophies when it comes to home buying. Some would prefer to buy a home already constructed, either because they like the existing character, or the location, or simply because it’s a convenient alternative. Others would prefer to buy a property and build upon it, where they can see it all come together and have a say in the construction, aesthetic choices and prices.
There’s no one right answer here. It really is to each their own. But with the difference in home buying comes certain differences in costs. Whereas you might not be building your plumbing from scratch when you buy an already constructed house, the renovations you might need (if the house’s plumbing is old or in disrepair) are more costly than if you had started from scratch. Why is that?
At Mister Plumber, we field this question pretty often and understand why someone would be curious – even skeptical – of the difference in cost. Why is plumbing work cheaper for new construction compared to renovations? That’s the question we’ll be attempting to answer with this blog post, as well as what to consider in each scenario, and why a plumbing company in Toronto you can rely on is of the utmost importance both in renovating and constructing from new.
What To Consider When Renovating
Here’s the long and the short of it: expect costs to be a bit higher when renovating as opposed to new construction (more on that below). Of course, there are certain workarounds. As we’ve discussed on this blog before (see: A Short Guide to Washroom Plumbing Renovations), a great time to do plumbing renovations is when other renovations are underway, especially ones that require removing drywall, that way you can capitalize on the existing access.
Really, it all depends on the state of your plumbing. If you need multiple system upgrades, and each requires some kind of wall removal or working around floor joists, it can cost more, because the job is trickier and more time-consuming – a good first step, in any case, is to contact us to learn more about the job.
What To Consider With New Construction
If you were weighing out the two options – say you had the opportunity to build a new house or purchase one, and the cost of plumbing was a deciding factor – you might have a difficult choice on your hands. Yes, the work itself is generally less expensive when constructing new, but it also needs to be completed wholesale. On the other hand, a purchased house might need only minor renovations, and although pound for pound those renos are pricier, the overall cost is probably still less.
But when constructing from new, you have the ability to install long-term plumbing that you know is going to last. You get it done right the first time. Rarely are homeowners in a position where they have to choose between the two, as most people have made up their mind what type of house they’ll buy well before contacting a plumber, but as a point of argument, we thought it would be beneficial to compare.
Why New Construction Is Generally Less Expensive
So let’s answer the question first posed in the intro: Why is plumbing work cheaper for new construction compared to renovations? First of all, when houses are built, there is no drywall on the walls and ceiling, which means that plumbers have full access to install both drain and water line. There is no impediment to the work, and therefore the job gets done quicker.
Secondly, new houses have bigger sizes of studs and floor joists, to facilitate more insulation. For example, all exterior frames in a new home have to be done using 2×6 – not 2X4, as was the previous standard – and therefore there is more room to install drain stacks.
However, because of this, water pipes cannot be installed inside the exterior wall, since they will be left inadequately insulated. But that’s not a huge issue – because of the smaller pipe size, they easily fit in the thinner interior wall.
Floor joists, in most cases, are 2×12, which is another helpful amount of space, since it makes putting in horizontal drain pipes with the proper slope much simpler.
Why Renovations Are Generally More Expensive
In the picture above, you can see some of the renovation plumbing work we’ve done. Notice here that the plumber does not have space from below – this is because of the finished ceiling, which implies cutting the floor and therefore makes the job more difficult.
In such old houses, floor joists are made of 2X8 or even 2×6. According to the building codes, notches or holes on floor joists are prohibited, which makes means there is a very tiny range for the installation of sloped wastewater pipes. This can get very tricky, as it’s almost like a plumbing puzzle that needs to be solved!
But it’s not always this tricky. Check out the picture that appears first in this article. In it, you’ll see some plumbing we did in a basement wall. The job here was relatively easy, at least compared with some of the more awkward renovation jobs, since as you can see there is good access from both sides. This access makes our job much easier, and therefore quicker.
It should be noted that renovation plumbing is not only about creating new plumbing fixtures or relocating existing ones; it is also about fixing all those little problems like negative sloping, improper fittings, hairline cracks, code violations etc. You might even want to upgrade your water service during your renovation for better efficiency and performance. Such problems are usually unforeseen and affect the final cost of plumbing work. By contrast, these unforeseen problems don’t pop up in new construction plumbing.
Hopefully, this article has been at least a little educational. Plumber pricing, far from being arbitrary, is tied to the time and materials it takes to get a job done. At Mister Plumber, we pride ourselves on doing quality work, as efficiently as is humanly possible and for a reasonable price. And it’s articles like this one that help us create transparency with customers.
Of course, if you have any further questions about the differences between new constructions and renovation plumbing, or you have specific queries about your home plumbing, don’t hesitate to give us a ring or call us for a free estimate anytime!
Shower fixtures arrangement, installations by licensed Toronto Area plumbers.
Shower head and handheld, photo by licensed Toronto Area plumbers.