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Rough Plumbing

Framing | Windows and Exterior doors | >>Rough plumbing & HVAC | Rough electrical | 4-way inspection

Quick facts

  • Plumbers must complete a four-year apprentice program to become licensed journeyman plumber.
  • Plastic pipes are commonly used in modern plumbing instead of cast iron and copper because they are faster and cheaper.
  • Most states require that the plumbing is done by a journeyman plumber or by the homeowner themselves (Often you can get a plumber to assist you after hours or on weekends).
  • Plumbers usually calculate bids by the number of fixtures in the house. Toilets, sinks, bathtubs are considered individual fixtures. If the cost is $500 per fixture and your house has 10 fixtures, the total plumbing cost would be approximately $5000.

DWV and Supply

There are two major systems in a house, DWV and potable water supply. DWV stands for drain, waste and vent.
Since fixtures must drain, the DWV system carries the waste water out of the house to the sewer or septic system. This is usually accomplished with plastic pipe known as ABS or PVC. ABS is a black pipe and PVC a white colored pipe. ABS and PVC make up the majority of pipe installed in homes today. No hub cast iron is still used but is is much more expensive. The DWV pipes ranges from 1½"- 4" in diameter.
Each fixture needs potable water supply. This is done using copper, PEX or CPVC (PEX and CPVC are plastic pipe). The water supply pipes range from 3/8"- 1" in diameter. In the case of both DWV and supply lines, the plumber must use the appropriate size to make the system work properly. The supply system has a main shut off, and each fixture generally has individual shut-offs.


In the planning stages you will need to sit down with your plumber and plan out his phase of the job. Good plumbers will be knowledgeable and be able to give advice about the latest trends, techniques and products. Once items are agree upon put them into writing on the specification sheet.

  1. Materials used on the job, i.e. type of DWV and water supply pipe and fittings.
  2. Type and models of fixtures, valves and faucets.
  3. Location of exposed pipe runs in a basement (if applicable).
  4. Location of main stacks, roof vents, cleanouts, etc.
  5. Schedule and Notification process.

Placement and location

During the planning stages it is a good idea to walk through the house and discuss the locations for the main waste runs, and the fixtures. Although the plans show the locations of the fixtures it's good to mark their location on the floor.

The Contract with the plumber should specify the following:
  • The number of fixtures to be installed.
  • The price per fixture and the total price for the plumbing of the house.
  • The cost per change order.
  • The hourly rate for work that is not included in the contract (additional work).
  • Time needed for completion for each of the following phases; sub-rough plumbing, rough plumbing, and finish plumbing.
The specifications should include the following:
  • Number of fixtures
  • Brand and model and color of each fixture, faucet and valve etc. and their location.\
  • The type of material to be used for DWV and water supply.
  • The type (gas, electric, LP) brand, model number and size of water heater.
  • Location for water heater if not specified in the plans.

Generally speaking plumbers are well-trained and regulated so that slipshod operators can't get into business. However, there are still some things that need to be inspected.

  • Measure to make sure that the fixtures are in the correct position according to the plans.
  • Make sure that the fixtures, faucets and valves and materials that are installed are the model and brand (or equivalent) of those specified in the construction specifications.
  • If your local inspecting body doesn't require a pressure test on the plumbing system let the plumber know that you require a test on the DWV system and water supply system.
  • Keep your plumber informed of your schedule. Subcontractors need to know approximately when they will be needed on a job. Go to the contracts & scheduling page for more information.
  • Decide in advance who will call for the plumbing inspection. It is better if the plumber coordinates this as the plumbing will need to be pressurized and or filled with water for the inspection.
  • Check that the materials, fixtures and equipment conform with the specifications.
  • Make sure any changes, additions or fixes are communicated to the plumber while he is on the job. Call backs cost time and money.
  • Check site daily for progress.

Saving Money

Here are some suggestions for money saving for Plumbing:
  • The price of the job includes basic fixtures and faucets. Upgrading these will add to the cost.
  • Stainless steel fixtures generally cost less than cast iron.
  • PEX or CPVC take less labor to install and are generally cheaper than copper.
  • When designing your home, back-to back bathrooms decrease your plumbing cost.
  • Manifold water supply systems such as Manibloc™ increase cost. It is more cost-effective to use a regular supply manifold.



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