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Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 01, 2016 07:42PM
Father-in-law just bought 2 houses next to each other at auction. So ... no inspections ...

Houses are old. Dunno how old. 1920s? 1930s? Don't look any newer than 1940s.



The city came by today to turn the water on for one of them. Nothing happened inside after an initial dribble out of a few places. At the moment we're guessing the line from the meter to the house is corroded/clogged/something.

Tomorrow morning the city will come back out to remove the meter, we're going to disconnect where the line comes into the house (inside, at the valve), and we'll try to blow compressed air through it, as a way of deterring if the issue is there. So that line may have to be dug up or replaced. Which will suck since it runs under the driveway.

*******************************************

Anyway, the interior plumbing may also be ... unsafe? Dude from the city said it's galvanized pipe inside, not copper. "Probably has lead in it." Really?

I didn't look closely anywhere, but a previous owner had painted the plumbing in the basement and it looks like maybe cast iron or? Tough to tell since they'd left all of the original piping in for all the radiators and that stuff's large diameter.

All of that got me to looking at PEX, for ease of installation. I showed my father-in-law some examples online, like manifolds used in home-run installs and he freaked out. Looked too complex. Looked like how electrical lines look. "What if that manifold goes bad?" And so on. I realize you can design it with submanfolds but that's really just a trunk-and-branch system.

"You realize that a traditional trunk-and-branch system is actually more complex than a home-run/manifold design, right?"

"Yeah but it just looks complex, untrustworthy ..."

I can't push hard for PEX since it's not my money, I can't devote a ton of time to the project, and wouldn't want *anything* to go wrong after recommending it if you know what I mean.

Anyway, he's already comfortable with gluing PVC pieces together, so we may go that route if necessary, despite the disadvantages. I just thought I'd glean your thoughts if you've done something like this.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: space-time
Date: August 01, 2016 07:51PM
Father-in-law just bought 2 houses next to each other at auction. So ... no inspections ...

why? if so many properties are sold at auction that you can find and buy two next to each other, then probably real estate in that area is not a good investment

I can't push hard for PEX since it's not my money, I can't devote a ton of time to the project, and wouldn't want *anything* to go wrong after recommending it if you know what I mean.

Not your money, stay way. especially with in-laws.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: iaJim
Date: August 01, 2016 07:52PM
Nice thing about PEX is that you can fish it through walls and not have to tear up as much interior to redo. PEX is no longer a newcomer at the table, it is a reliable accepted method of plumbing. We had a separate meter put in for our lawn and garden water, and they ran the new lines with PEX. We did that about ten years ago. Works great.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: August 01, 2016 08:31PM
Our house was remodeled in 2011 and has pex everywhere. I love it, personally. So much less to go wrong and so much easier to troubleshoot with everything having a home run.

That said, this sounds like a cluster. Stay away, very far away.



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: M>B>
Date: August 01, 2016 08:36PM
If you have to replace a water line, consider one of the "trenchless" systems...

[www.trenchfree.com]

Check your local yellow pages for who might be in your area.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: billb
Date: August 01, 2016 08:44PM
I don't understand posting a pic of th outside of the house when the relevant plumbing questions are inside the house.

If they are older houses they can have galvanized steel pipe. Lead is generally not an issue, calcium deposits decreasing the diameter of the inside of the pipe and corrosion causing leaks are.

Depending on the line config it's common to put a manifold on the hot water line from the water heater so there are is less cooled off water to push through each line to each fixture in the house vs the old system of using 3/4 inch pipe main with 1/2 inch branches and having to push all that water to get hot water at the fixture. It saves water and it saves hot water and the energy to make it.
Pex saves a lot of labor cost. You still have to use some brass and copper.

Why worry about what the old pipes are made of when there's no water to apply to them to test their condition ?



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: August 01, 2016 08:51PM
Whole house repipe from galvanized steel to PEX about 5 years ago:

[forums.macresource.com]

PEX is great.



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: August 01, 2016 08:53PM
Depending on what local standards were up to 1940, up to 80% of water service lines in some zip codes could be lead.



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Cary
Date: August 01, 2016 09:01PM
You can use PEX to plumb in home runs, or a branch configuration, or a combination.

I would use it instead of PVC any day.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 01, 2016 09:45PM
Bill -- the pic was posted because somebody would likely make an educated guess based on the style and therefore, age. And from that, likely plumbing material. The issue about indoor plumbing safety was brought up by the guy from the city water dept who visited. So he may have been wrong about lead, but not about it being galvanized.

Just did some quick research, and galvanized steel seems to be likely, and that replacing it is a good idea even if lead-free. Probably have to start at the meter however, before we even get inside.

pinkoos I'll check your link, thanks.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Uncle Wig
Date: August 01, 2016 09:58PM
Yep, just had mine done with PEX year before last. Easier and less expensive than metal pipe. My 1952 house had galvanized, well, still has because the plumber left it all in place, and it had begun to spring leaks. It WILL eventually corrode and fail.

So do try to talk your dad into PEX, rather than troubleshooting the existing plumbing.

Those like like nice houses!



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: jh
Date: August 01, 2016 10:58PM
Have a 1956 built ranch style home with a crawl space. Couple of years ago replaced all the galvanized pipes replaced with pex. Replaced all supply pipes up to the sinks. My sinks supply lines come up from the floor except for one bath since and I was able to cut an access panel in a closet backing up to the wall the sink and commode are located on. They trenched out the galvanized pipe to the meter. Big difference and worth the price. The galvanized pipes you could barely see through after 50 years of use.

On a interesting note: we live in a L shaped single level home. The water heater and washing machine connections are in the small L shape part of the house. That part was a garage conversion but they left NO crawl space except for a foot or so in height. The electricians even ran all the electrical wiring from the attic down through the walls for the outlets in that section of the house! The plumbers figured out a way to get the piping through the vent openings in that part of the building and a small opening left between the conversion and the other part of the crawl space. Since all the connections to the WH and washer came up through the floor it was easier. He could not have done it without using pex. It was a wonder to watch him and another guy do it.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 01, 2016 11:37PM
I am digging the car port. Pull in, back out, variety? (no visible drive in front that I can see.)

Nice houses, designed at a time when the automobile did not have to be attached to the house, and therefore design did not suffer as a result...

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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: SteveO
Date: August 02, 2016 12:15AM
Those houses are pretty, I hope the rest of the rehab goes well. Our remodelers put in PEX in what were our circa '55 bathrooms about 7 years ago. No complaints or issues here at all.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: August 02, 2016 01:32AM
I was leery of PEX too, but I'm with it now. Seems to have stood the test of time. Run from meter to crawl space or basement, use manifold to branch out. Or better like said before, start manifold at water heater and go from there. You'll need one of the various kinds of PEX pipe fitting clamper thingamajigs. Get the kind that lets you work in tight places... I know.



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: 3d
Date: August 02, 2016 05:08AM
We redid 90% of the plumbing in our house after we bought it. Copper for the potable water lines. Pex for everything else. Here's a pic of the manifold for the first floor radiator home-run lines.

It would've been A TON of copper for all those home-run lines.

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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: August 02, 2016 05:38AM
hired a guy to replaced the galvanized in a rent house with copper 5 years ago - he was already doing the same at a local hospital.

it was straightforward with a one-level house & crawl space deep enough to stand up.

I had him put in many more cutoff valves - both kitchens (originally was setup as a duplex), both bathrooms, water heater - all can now be isolated.

PEX is cheap, & so popular with the DIYer.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 02, 2016 07:06AM
Quote
mrbigstuff
I am digging the car port. Pull in, back out, variety? (no visible drive in front that I can see.)

Nice houses, designed at a time when the automobile did not have to be attached to the house, and therefore design did not suffer as a result...


These two houses are a set of three (the other, not shown, I think is even nicer and different but owned by someone else. I wouldn't put it past my mother-in-law to make them an offer. She's been wanting at least one of them for years.)

The driveway you see leads to the garage for the house on the right, but that house also has another driveway to the right that has a turnaround and came go to a carport behind the house (parallel to it.) That one can with a large commercial warehouse, huge barn, small barn, small dozer and 2-horse trailer and another smaller "shed" for a song.

The house on the left has a curious tunnel that goes out the back of the basement and up/outside just aft of the house. Both have a ton of character inside and out, but need work because they haven't been lived in or kept up much inside. Interestingly, they both seem to have new or very new roofs.

Correction: The driveway you see is a shared one, leading to either of the garages. So the carport behind the house on the right can exit that way too, I think. The part that looks like a carport for the house on the left is just a porch (albeit with cement floor.) No indication from either end that it could have been otherwise.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2016 07:13AM by deckeda.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: 3d
Date: August 02, 2016 07:58AM
Was the plan to use "glue together" PVC for everything? Because I don't think it's ok for hot water. I'd also be leery about using it for cold potable water. My plumber used PVC for just the waste water pipes.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: billb
Date: August 02, 2016 08:38AM
Quote
3d
Was the plan to use "glue together" PVC for everything? Because I don't think it's ok for hot water. I'd also be leery about using it for cold potable water. My plumber used PVC for just the waste water pipes.


If you wouldn't want to use it for food packaging or children's toys you really shouldn't use it in water delivery pipes.
Despite our benevolent (our heavily lobbied and supported and influenced by manufacturers ) government's claims regarding safety and use, even PEX is being studied and there are concerns.


Unfortunately there are concerns with all piping systems in conjunction with the wide array of disinfecting chemicals used by community water works today.



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 02, 2016 09:02AM
And that's the thing ... we don't know everything about every type of potential plumbing conduit available today. My house was built in '93. It has copper everywhere except for some short connections at fixtures with the "gray" pipe no one uses anymore due to its unreliability. So copper is all I know how to work with. Not an option today due to cost.

I have no experience with PVC, CPVC or PEX but am attracted to PEX' advantages. More than anything, I want my father-in-law to get quotes or at least LISTEN to what others recommend and why. He's a DIYer like me, which is both good and bad when making decisions. People tend to go with the devil they know.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: 3d
Date: August 02, 2016 09:27AM
Quote
deckeda
So copper is all I know how to work with. Not an option today due to cost.

Per my original suggestion, is running copper to only the kitchen and bathroom sinks an option? All radiators, toilet, shower, exterior hose bib, washing machine, utility sink can use pex. That will minimize the cost without sacrificing potential safety.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 02, 2016 09:42AM
I don't know yet what options there may be for copper. Some pipes come up from the floor and some are buried behind walls ... PEX isn't safe?

First goals for today is to see about getting water inside the other house, and seeing if the supply line under this one is clogged.

But it's all gonna have to get ripped out/replaced anyway, soon, so it's all a bit crazy to me to be trying to get water going with the existing plumbing.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: August 02, 2016 09:45AM
PEX is the universally preferred solution to replacing water lines in houses. ESPECIALLY where the mortgage locusts of 2008 has left a large group of them.

1- Easy.
2- Cheap.
3- Cannot be sold for scrap like copper (huge source of problems).

I know a couple of guys who buy auction homes, fix them up, and rent them out. They all swear by PEX.


Quote
M>B>
If you have to replace a water line, consider one of the "trenchless" systems...

[www.trenchfree.com]

Check your local yellow pages for who might be in your area.

FWIW... horizontal boring is MUCH more expensive than running a trenching machine up the yard. Like about 3x more expensive. Source: quoted options replacing a gas line at my inlaws house.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 02, 2016 10:09AM
Good friend of mine is a plumber... And though he specializes in gas piping nowadays, the first whole house EX job he did was the house he lives in now... At the time it was his dads place, and they were renovating after a fire extensively damaged it.

They did the whole place in PEX, and he said the only leak he's ever had was when his ex wife drove a nail into it hanging a picture with a framing nail.

He loves PEX... For remodels in particular, since it's way easier to fish it through existing holes than copper... Expecially after decades of earthquakes and settling shift walls.

We used it when I redid my bathroom. Super fast, super slick... No complaints. AND it fixed a galvanized to copper connection that had created a whole house "battery" that would have corroded away the plumbing in a few years. Tip: never let an idiot who doesn't understand galvanic corrosion do plumbing repairs.



Paul F.
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----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: August 02, 2016 10:30AM
If you are paying someone the labor is the biggest cost.

Which is why I went with copper.

DIY, PEX is cheaper, even if you buy the tools instead of renting them.
Quote
deckeda
So copper is all I know how to work with. Not an option today due to cost.

I have no experience with PVC, CPVC or PEX but am attracted to PEX' advantages. More than anything, I want my father-in-law to get quotes or at least LISTEN to what others recommend and why. He's a DIYer like me, which is both good and bad when making decisions. People tend to go with the devil they know.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: August 02, 2016 10:45AM
....can you flex.....the pex......???



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 02, 2016 11:22AM
Quote
Bill in NC
If you are paying someone the labor is the biggest cost.

Which is why I went with copper.

DIY, PEX is cheaper, even if you buy the tools instead of renting them.
Quote
deckeda
So copper is all I know how to work with. Not an option today due to cost.

I have no experience with PVC, CPVC or PEX but am attracted to PEX' advantages. More than anything, I want my father-in-law to get quotes or at least LISTEN to what others recommend and why. He's a DIYer like me, which is both good and bad when making decisions. People tend to go with the devil they know.

So, why did you replace with copper if labor for PEX would have been cheaper? Was the cost for using PEX that much higher than copper?
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 02, 2016 11:31AM
Time is money. PEX is faster for a professional to install and couple than copper or galvanized.
Stick the expander in, squeeze the grip... Put it on the connector, put the crimper on, squeeze the grip. Done.

Running it through a wall, etc, without tearing out the drywall is easier in most situations with PEX too.

If you're paying a pro, he'll get the PEX done faster than copper.
So, not sure I understand Bill in NC's point about copper being 'better'.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

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Eureka, CA
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: mikebw
Date: August 02, 2016 11:32AM
Quote
deckeda
Quote
Bill in NC
If you are paying someone the labor is the biggest cost.

Which is why I went with copper.

DIY, PEX is cheaper, even if you buy the tools instead of renting them.
Quote
deckeda
So copper is all I know how to work with. Not an option today due to cost.

I have no experience with PVC, CPVC or PEX but am attracted to PEX' advantages. More than anything, I want my father-in-law to get quotes or at least LISTEN to what others recommend and why. He's a DIYer like me, which is both good and bad when making decisions. People tend to go with the devil they know.

So, why did you replace with copper if labor for PEX would have been cheaper? Was the cost for using PEX that much higher than copper?


I think what he was saying was that in either scenario the labor for installation would be the largest cost, over the materials. Given that baseline he chose to go with copper.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2016 12:22PM by mikebw.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: August 02, 2016 11:56AM
.....prefer.....lats.........than pecs...............



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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 02, 2016 01:50PM
Back from the house. We didn't attempt to disconnect the line and blow air back through it. Got there, and water's now coming out. But it's a trickle, even right at an outside spigot where it comes into the house. There's no hint of anything on the main level getting water.

I think I convinced my father-in-law that the line coming into the house is bad, even if some air could be blown through it.

"But it might clean it out."

"It rusts from the inside out. All "blowing it out' could accomplish is removing more of the pipe's structure. Do you want to replace it now, while you don't depend on it, or later, after you've moved in?"

It's academic since there's not enough pressure to be useful. He called a plumber to come out and look at it. I accomplished that much. He still wants to tackle the inside himself, but with a helper (i.e. me) "by degrees" (a little each day for as long as it takes.) I don't know if he'd consider PEX, and quite frankly I'd want to know more about where to get it from and so on.

********************************
The house has a recent A/C unit (Trane TR15) and furnace. Central air was added but only to the main floor. Second floor ... 3 bedrooms ... nada, unless they extend it or add window A/C units.

It runs, makes cold air, but shuts off/on/off before reaching temp. I suppose that's a coolant leak. Oh well ... probably the least of the trouble at this point. Says the houses were built in the 20s. The other house has never had A/C.

********************************

The structure of the walls was a curiosity, all covered with wallpaper that needs to come down. Looking closer inside both today, they seem to be built with hardwood for the walls. Not plaster. Not panelling. Looks like 1x4's running horizontally.

********************************
One of the upstairs rooms has a secondary room off from it, wedged into an angled space under the roof. Where water did damage to wallpaper, older wallpaper was revealed.

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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: 3d
Date: August 02, 2016 02:18PM
Quote
deckeda
PEX isn't safe?

I trust the health safety of PEX way way more than PVC your father-in-law was originally suggesting.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: August 02, 2016 04:25PM
Not when his day job is replacing the galvanized at the local hospital with copper.

Again, this was on a one-story house with a crawl space deep enough to stand - easy access to all pipes.

No one yet knows how PEX will stand up over time - CPVC (not PVC, that's for waste pipe) has had its own problems.

Quote
Paul F.
If you're paying a pro, he'll get the PEX done faster than copper.
So, not sure I understand Bill in NC's point about copper being 'better'.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 02, 2016 05:19PM
OK, if the guys specialty is copper, I can see that..
PEX has been in use for more than 40 years now.. So far, so good.

Quote
Bill in NC
Not when his day job is replacing the galvanized at the local hospital with copper.

Again, this was on a one-story house with a crawl space deep enough to stand - easy access to all pipes.

No one yet knows how PEX will stand up over time - CPVC (not PVC, that's for waste pipe) has had its own problems.

Quote
Paul F.
If you're paying a pro, he'll get the PEX done faster than copper.
So, not sure I understand Bill in NC's point about copper being 'better'.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 03, 2016 09:20AM
Pretty sure the inside plumbing will be a DIY job. The issue of local availability was raised. PEX is new enough that nobody buys it for repairs, typically. It still remains mostly a wholesaler thing, for new complete installs. Home Depot/Lowe's? So what, they are an hour away and likely would cost more than online. There's no chance he'll buy plumbing supplies, or anything, online. It'll be whatever the local Ace or Bill's Hardware has available.

That said, as I head back to GA today, I did suggest that they seek quotes, even for tasks they don't think they'd have someone else do. Just to get a baseline expectation, recommendation(s) and so on.
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Re: Anybody replace (or, build) their house plumbing with PEX?
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: August 03, 2016 09:23PM
Quote
deckeda
Pretty sure the inside plumbing will be a DIY job. The issue of local availability was raised. PEX is new enough that nobody buys it for repairs, typically. It still remains mostly a wholesaler thing, for new complete installs. Home Depot/Lowe's? So what, they are an hour away and likely would cost more than online. There's no chance he'll buy plumbing supplies, or anything, online. It'll be whatever the local Ace or Bill's Hardware has available.

That said, as I head back to GA today, I did suggest that they seek quotes, even for tasks they don't think they'd have someone else do. Just to get a baseline expectation, recommendation(s) and so on.

I could not even imagine buying from an Ace or other similar hardware store for an entire remodel. I cringe every time I buy something that is twice what it is at Home Depot and quadruple what it is online. Only reason I shop at Ace is it is less than 5 minutes away and Home Depot is 30 minutes so if it is something under $20 I just get it there.



C(-)ris
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