House-Flipper Guide – Part III: Plumbing

It is said that all you need to know to be a plumber are two things, “poop [sic] flows downhill and, pay-day is on Friday.” We concede that “poop” is not the expletive of choice by those professionals in the field with exposed rear-side quarter slots, however the profundity is not lost in the language.

The success or failure of the house-flipper’s plumbing Feng Shui really boils down to one simple factor . . .

When we condense residential plumbing down to its most basic principles, we observe that a plumbing system has two primary functions.  First, we need clean water to flow into the building on demand and un-interrupted. Second, we need wastewater to flow out of the building on demand and, again, un-interrupted.  Most importantly we need these two things to be able to occur without any intermingling.

We first point out that sink basins, faucets, tubs, and showers are not the primary components by which these two functions occur, in spite of the attention they garner.  These plumbing fixtures are the user interfaces of the plumbing system. The most important components of the plumbing system, the pipes, are deliberately concealed within the building’s framework and rarely receive recognition for the vital roles they play.

Even the most exotic and technologically advanced of plumbing fixtures are beholden to the pipes by which they are served. Touch faucets, ornate sinks, and walk-in showers large enough to wash a small car can all be rendered useless, and even offensive, by the slightest pipe obstruction.

Like the morning after a chili cook-off, most of us don’t even think about our pipes until they fail.

Enter the amateur interior designer who has eyes on upward financial mobility via real estate: the house flipper. Even before a plumber is consulted —if a real plumber is consulted— faucets, toilets, sinks, sink counters and shower tiles are coordinated for aesthetic effect.

It’s simple really, new pipes are good and old pipes are bad. The observation of this simple truth can, in the end, prevent the need for the removal and reinstallation of the above noted and aesthetically coordinated touch faucets, ornate sinks, and walk-in showers large enough to wash a small car. Replacing a home’s old pipes with new pipes after the aesthetically coordinated fixtures have been installed can have a negative affect on the desired effect.

The success or failure of the house-flipper’s plumbing Feng Shui really boils down to one simple factor: age.

It is not required that every individual seeking upward financial mobility via real estate be fitted with an exposed rear-side quarter slot, however, we advise that he, or she, if considering the purchase and renovation of an older home include in their budget the cost of a re-pipe because, if they don’t, the prospective buyer of their investment and effort, after consulting with a qualified home inspector, will be forced to.

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