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Plumbing Upgrades - How and Why

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Buyers and sellers often hear about plumbing upgrades, but just what does this mean? Generally speaking, upgraded plumbing in the context of buying or selling a property refers to both fixtures and/or the plumbing system itself. Here are some basics to consider when referring to plumbing upgrades.

Fixtures

In bathrooms and kitchens, faucet fixtures are an easy upgrade that adds style without a lot of spend. If a home is being prepped for sale, the best bet is to use fixtures that will appeal to the most potential buyers. Choose basic finishes and designs; now is not the time for gleaming gold-toned metal or other styles that not everyone likes. The idea is not necessarily to draw attention to the faucets, but to demonstrate that the fixtures are modern and in good condition.

Toilets are another simple upgrade that will also positively affect how the home is perceived. If space allows, an elongated bowl and a high-profile height are smart changes to make. A neutral color that works with the existing tile and walls is always best. Low-flow toilets are now also available with dual-flush features to save even more water, and may even be rebate eligible.

A shower upgrade can be as basic as adding a handheld shower unit to the existing setup. Another effective upgrade is a “rain”-type showerhead, which are almost becoming standard in new homes. Also consider a thermostatic valve for the shower, which prevents scalding while the shower is running. It’s a nice feature that’s inexpensive to add and is especially appealing to buyers with children.

Piping

Home re-piping continues to grow in popularity. During this process, all water lines and connections within the home are replaced. Depending on conditions, the line from the water main to the house may need to be replaced as well.

Over time, old galvanized metal pipes will degenerate, increasing the potential for leaks, reducing water flow capacity/water pressure, and causing material to flake off inside the pipes. This is particularly noticeable in hot water supply lines. The taste and appearance of tap water can also be adversely affected by deteriorating galvanized pipes. Some older homes have lead pipes, which are less subject to corrosion but pose a serious health hazard for children.

Typically, replacement piping is made of copper or one of several types of flexible PVC, including PEX. The best material to use depends on a number of factors, including the hardness of the water and winter temperatures. Homeowners should always seek out the opinions of several contractors before making the important – and not inexpensive – decision to re-pipe the home. Depending on the home’s location, re-piping may not pay off in terms of return on investment but could be an attractive selling feature nonetheless.

Most buyers typically don’t want to even think about plumbing in their new home, so upgrades are often welcome. As with any upgrades, however, consider market conditions and comparables when making recommendations to your sellers.