Should I replumb/repipe the house myself?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by twinbro2, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. twinbro2

    twinbro2 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    OK, this sounds like a crazy question, but bear with me.

    The problem is that we have pb pipe with the plastic fittings, but our leak developed too late to be included in the class action that would have paid to replumb the house.

    The pb pipe is not leaking now, but I fear that potential homebuyers would be put off from buying the house. But I also fear that it would be very expensive to have a professional come in and replumb the house.

    My plan, therefore, is to

    1. Take plumbing courses at the local tech school for the next 6 months - 1 year. The first course (12 hours/week for six weeks) is on drains & vents. There will also be courses on supply lines, etc.
    2. Go get certified by the county as a licensed contractor
    3. Get a building permit from county.
    4. Replumb the house myself.
    5. Get county inspector to look at the work I did.
    6. Put up drywall and paint.

    If all goes well, I could have new supply lines by Xmas. Plus, after this project, I would be empowered to put all kinds of fixtures in the house -- wet bar, laundry sink, etc.

    What do y'all think? Do you know of anyone who has actually done this before? Should I just leave the pb pipe as is? My friends think I'm kinda nuts, but they're not plumbers.
  2. RioHyde

    RioHyde Plumber

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    When I was a first year apprentice an old master plumber told all of us in class, "You all wont know a thing and will cost your boss money until your third year. Then and only then will the light come on and you wont be so damn ignorant about plumbing." I was a bit put off by his statement to say the least. However, his words were prophetic. Taking a 6 month or 1 year course does not a plumber make. My apprenticeship was 5 years of school and OJT. Sure, I could solder up copper and put CPVC together long before then, but I still didnt know enough to be a plumber. If you're ambitious go for it, but in the long run you might be better served by hiring a licensed professional who has years, not just months, of experience.

    Whichever way you decide to proceed, I bid you lots of luck.
  3. If you aren't having problems with the pb by now, you aren't really likely to soon.
    If you ever sell the house, you have to disclose that it has pb pipes, but that isn't necessarily negative now, if you're not having problems. People assume that all pb problems have surfaced and been corrected, if any, by the time that they buy a home with it in it for a long time.
    I certainly wouldn't attempt to replumb an entire house, if you aren't a very experienced DIY plumber. I've been DIY plumbing for about 50 years (started as a mere child of course...LOL), and I'm still learning. Never have done it for a living, but I certainly respect those who do. It isn't as "easy" as you think. You would probably be biting off far more than you want to chew after you get into it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    You'd be better off just doing cosmetics (clean up, painting, etc.), if you ever decide to sell.
    Good luck!
    Mike
    (Long-Time NC Real Estate Broker )
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,062
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    replumb

    If your area is anything like this one, it costs about $2,000 to become a licensed plumber so you would not save anything by doing it. That is just for the license. It has nothing to do with the required insurance, ($3,600.00+), or the cost of your classes. Besides that you have to be able to show that you have worked in the plumbing trade for at least 4 years, and pass a test that your year in school has not prepared you for. So I guess your friends could be correct.
  5. twinbro2

    twinbro2 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    replumbing inquiry

    OK, i appreciate everyone's thoughtful replies!
  6. jrejre

    jrejre New Member

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I'm a homeowner. I repiped my fairly small 3 bedroom house in California. It was a concrete slab. I relocated the water heater and ripped both bathrooms down to the studs and started over. I learned a lot. But, it got done exactly the way I wanted it. The hardest part was using the jackhammer to remove a 3'x3' section in the slab where the supply line came in.

    I found both the city inspector to be (somewhat) helpful. But, mostly my local plumbing supply store. (Note: a real plumbing store, with real plumbers behind the counter).

    I actually started the project to remodel the bath rooms and just ended up so close to repiping the house, that I decided just do the remaining lines. I also changed location of the hot water heater (from inside the house to the garage). The city was necessarily fussier about the work there than the entire rest of my work. Everything passed without problems, but the height off the floor, venting, new gas line pressure testing, etc. made me be careful to do my homework first.

    Would I do it again. Probably not unless I couldn't afford to hire the work. :p
  7. twinbro2

    twinbro2 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    replumb

    That's interesting... Mine sounds like it will be less complicated b/c I don't have a slab and I'm not moving any fixtures. I can get to most of the supply lines in the crawl space. Of course I would have to take out the drywall, too.

    Did you use PEX? Copper? ?
  8. jrejre

    jrejre New Member

    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I used copper throughout. Except for the gas line where code (at that time) required I use black pipe.

    As long as you're up for a lots of work and take the time to research / learn, you should be fine. You seem to have a thought out plan. You will have unexpected problems, to be sure. Sometimes as a DIY'er that's half the fun. I should say too, that at one point I did pay for a plumber to spend a few hours with me. It was a guy the supply house knew, so although I paid him for his time, there was longer term relationship there too. That was helpful to when I was at a point to ask questions and double check my work done to that point. I don't want to start any tension on the board, but I will say that my work was vastly better than what was in the house beforehand. Mine you, I lived in a 1960's quickly built, slab home. They clearly just were slamming out hundreds of homes. It all worked, but could not have really met code even then. I found sloppy solder joints, pipes not properly secured, etc. I am sure it was just a poor contractor. I am also pretty certain that if I had hired the whole job done by my own plumber (for the repipe) I would have gotten even a better job done than my work. Nothing like experience and focus just on the job at hand.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.
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