9 Plumbing Tips for Building Your Dream Home

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated October 18, 2021
A small girl washing her hands in kitchen’s sink
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Before you get started, know the plumbing basics

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There’s nothing more thrilling than getting the chance to build your own home from scratch. You can make every single part of the house cater to your needs, and that includes the plumbing. That can be overwhelming for a novice, but don’t worry—we’ve got everything you need to know before you begin your big project.

1. Make Sure You Know What You Need

Before you hire a plumbing professional to start work on your new home’s pipes, think about what you and your family will actually need. A local plumber can give suggestions, but only you know best what you want most for your home. 

Consider the number of bathrooms you need, and don’t forget to consider adding external plumbing elements like faucets, too.

2. Get the Necessary Permits

Before you start talking to plumbing professionals in your area, you need to learn more about required permits and apply for them.

Some plumbing professionals may obtain permits on your behalf, but don’t just assume they will. Ask the pros you hire, and if they can’t get you permits, speak to your local department of building safety. 

Permits keep your house safe; each project with a permit requires different levels of inspection. It’s a must for a bigger project like adding plumbing to a brand new home.

3. Educate Yourself

A plumber installing new bathroom faucet
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Nobody expects you to become a plumbing expert overnight; it’s a trade that takes professionals years to master. But educating yourself about the basics before you get started can keep you from feeling confused or in over your head when the project gets underway. 

The internet can point you towards several fast, comprehensive, but easy-to-digest guides to plumbing for beginners (like this one). Any number of these will help familiarize you with the terms, tools, and techniques likely needed for the job.

4. Place Your Water Heater and Furnace in the Basement

You want your water heater and furnace in a part of your home where they are well out of the way, but where they have space and enough airflow to keep them safe and operational. 

Don’t have a basement? Don’t worry! You can have your water heater and furnace installed on the main floor of your home in a space like a ventilated utility closet.

Make sure you install a drain pan underneath your water heater. Drain pans help collect any stray drips, preventing water damage. Have your drain pan connected to the sewer so you can direct moisture away from your house.

5. Keep All Your Plumbing Central

Whether your new plumbing is going in the basement or on the main floor of your home, you must keep it all in the same area, so it’s easier for plumbers to identify issues when they arise. 

Plan for your water heater, water softener, furnace, sump pit, sewage ejector pit, main water shut-off valve, and sewer connection all to be in the same space.

6. Keep Your Water Shut-Off Valve Accessible

Sometimes, when people add plumbing to crawl spaces or utility closets, the main water shut-off valve is put beneath the house or in another difficult-to-access location. 

If you have a basement, make sure your main water shut-off valve is close to or adjacent to your water heater. If you don’t have a basement and are installing these items on the main floor, ensure the main water shut-off valve is easy to reach and unobstructed.

7. Plumb for a Water Softener

A water softening unit removes minerals to, well, soften the water. You might not plan to install one in your home, but make sure you have the plumbing in place for one anyway. A house is an investment and, should you choose to sell down the line, being able to easily add a water softener will increase your property value.

8. Consider a Shared Wet Wall

A luxurious minimal bathroom
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In most homes, each room that requires plumbing has a dedicated wet wall. All that means is that the plumbing components are housed in one wall. You can save time and money if you talk to your plumber about the possibility of two rooms, like a kitchen or a bathroom, sharing a wet wall. That means less time and less construction, too.

9. Sump Pump Line Should Drain Far From Home

The devil’s in the details. You could have the best new plumbing in the world, but it won’t do you a lick of good if the water your sump pump discharges flows toward your home’s foundation. 

Over time, water damages the foundation’s structures by breaking down the materials slowly but surely. Make sure you communicate with your plumbing pros and get that discharge as far from the house as possible to keep you and your family nice and dry for years to come.

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