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Decatur or Hartselle, AL Plumbing: Typical Plumbing Upgrades

In our last post we looked at basic plumbing upgrades in the bathroom and kitchens — faucets and fixtures.

In this post we look at typical plumbing upgrades to help fellow Decatur and Hartselle homeowners plans for future purchases and improvements.

What are Typical Plumbing Upgrades?

Plumbing upgrades are more than changing out faucets and fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens. These can be costly depending on:

  • the age of the home
  • the types of pipes installed
  • the types and quality of new fixtures desired.

Outdated bathrooms will need an update or upgrade at some point, with Decatur and Hartselle homeowners most likely replacing the sink with new granite countertops or a vanity; a new toilet, tub, or shower are often replaced at the same time.

In the kitchen it’s a new sink, new countertop and backsplash, new faucet, and then things you don’t often associate with household plumbing like a dishwasher or refrigerator with an in-door water and ice maker features.

Plumbing upgrades are not limited to bathrooms and kitchens and occur elsewhere in the home: a new water heater, a laundry room tub/sink installation and (if it’s a really old home) the replacement of galvanized piping with copper or other material to consider.

Upgrades to low-flow toilets or shower heads can put money back into the homeowner’s pocket due to lower utility bills, although savings may not be immediately recognized or even noticed. It does feel good, however, to conserve water and help the environment.

Rough Idea of Plumbing Upgrade Costs

Gathering an accurate cost estimate for plumbing upgrades is difficult because many variables are in play, including:

  • the cost of the materials chosen
  • the hourly or project-based rates charged by a Decatur or Harstselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor, should you choose to use a professional for installation.

The following list provides a very rough, ballpark estimate for some costs you may incur. Our advice to get started:

  • Go to an area home improvement center and shop for faucets and toilets (and tile, if need be). Take pictures of the items you are thinking about (don’t forget the information placard, price tags, and dimensions for reference later). You can comparatively price shop locally or via the Internet.
  • Create a bill of materials, or BOM, for the major purchases of your project — a faucet and toilet for the guest bathroom, as an example. Include on this sheet any additional materials you may need: plumber’s putty, teflon tape, new hoses.
  • Add a second sheet to your spreadsheet for additional project-related but not plumbing-specific items like new countertops, backsplash tile, flooring tile, towel holders, and so on.
  • If you’re not going to do the installation yourself, call a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor to have him visit the house for a consultation and quote. He may have access to better pricing for the materials needed, so it can’t hurt to ask — especially when you’ve done your homework.

Replacement Kitchen or Bath Faucet

Mid-level faucets are easily north of $100, with some (the designer stuff) approaching $300-$500 or more. Don’t forget to add up the total number of faucets needed: for example, a home with two bathrooms upstairs — with double sinks — end up needing four faucets instead of two . . . so $200 becomes $400, if replaced at the same time.

Don’t forget to tack on the cost of a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor (at least $100-$200 or more, depending on the time it takes to install an X number of faucets in X many bathrooms).

If you do the project yourself, make sure you have the needed tools. Nothing is worse than starting a project, then having to stop everything and run up to the home improvement store for a pipe wrench.

Replacement Toilet

An elongated, tall toilet will run between $100 and $200, more when you consider material, finish, and brand-name manufacturer (or specialty designer).

Don’t forget to tack on the cost of a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor (at least $100-$200 or more, depending on the time it takes to install an X number of toilets in X many bathrooms).

If you do it yourself, don’t forget to buy a quality wax seal. The one that ships with the toilet isn’t always the best. No need to buy the super-expensive one, either; the mid-price seal will do just fine.

Large Kitchen or Bath Sink (porcelain or stainless steel)

Just the sink itself could cost between $600-$1,000, although it could be lower if you are installing new countertops (like granite) and get a discounted sink price from an area home improvement center, builder’s supply store, or Decatur and Hartselle, AL plumbing contractor or general handyman.

If you don’t do the installation yourself, remember you will be paying someone’s installation fees, which may also include hidden delivery and/or clean-up/removal costs.

Bathtub Replacement

Depending on material and finish chosen and function (soaking or whirlpool) a replacement bathtub can cost as little as $200 but more likely $600 to even $1,500. Don’t forget to tack on the cost of a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor (easily north of $200, maybe as high as $500, depending on what is involved installing the tub).

Connect Laundry Tub

Laundry tubs themselves are not terribly expensive, starting at $100-$200. As with the other upgrades, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a plumber or plumbing contractor, who may need to install new water lines (if none exist at the location). This could easily run $400 or more if new plumbing infrastructure is installed.

Hot Water Tank

A new water heater, depending on size and manufacturer, can cost as little as $250-$500, although most large family-sized units are around $1,000 (with installation) and as much as $2,000/$3000 depending on size and technology involved.

As with the other upgrades, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor, who will charge at least $200-$400 for installation (assuming there are no issues with the install).

Replacement of Galvanized Pipes with Copper

This is a tough one, depending on what needs to be done and the difficulty.

In general, it’s not cheap. A ballpark figure would be $2,000-$2,500, and this would not be something a homeowner does on his own, preferring to hire a Decatur or Hartselle plumbing contractor (a basic plumber is not sufficient for this job) for his expertise dealing with pipes, not just fixtures.

How to Lower Plumbing Upgrade Costs

If you are physically able, have the knowledge and skills, and are not shy tackling challenging do-it-yourself projects, you can save hundreds of dollars on installation fees.

In many situations, however, the more intense work — with higher risk if there are any problems — should be completed by an experienced Decatur and Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor.

Sometimes you just may not want the hassle of working in tight, narrow, uncomfortable spaces (under sinks) or the uncertainty of learning something new that could break or fail and cost you even more money. If this is the case, it’s probably best to hire a professional for peace of mind.

Water damage is a common result of inexperienced homeowners trying to complete challenging plumbing projects on their own. Homeowners are not familiar with plumbing materials, connections, or best practices, and inevitably unforeseen problems arise (often due to not being prepared or rushing through a job) that they may or may not know how to handle.

In the end it pays to hire the right Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor. Find someone in the area you can trust, who will advise you on the best strategy and schedule for the upgrades you want to make. Some projects can be done right away, while others may need to wait for something else (upgrading pipes, for example) to be finished first.

Other Considerations

Other than replacing an air conditioner or furnace, plumbing work is generally the most expensive work you’re likely to have done on the home because you may need the services of a skilled professional.

When thinking about plumbing upgrades, it’s worth considering return on investment.

The sad truth is that when it’s time to sell your house, most buyers expect the home to have a working plumbing system with no issues like pipes that need to be replaced. Whether you can regain the investment of more expensive bathroom and kitchen faucet fixtures, a fancy shower stall or tub, that remains to be seen.

However, in most locations realtors consider remodeled bathrooms (with at least granite countertops and quality fixtures) and kitchen (with at least granite countertops, quality fixtures, and stainless steel appliances) to be a worthwhile upgrade/investment when trying to sell.

How much you invest in plumbing upgrades is up to you and what you ultimately want to achieve.

This is one of those situations where you don’t do the work in order to make money or recoup money. You do it because you live in the home, you want to enjoy it, and one day it may help you sell.