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Architect Within Reach

Plumbing Project – Part 1

This blog post is designed to serve as your first step into the realm of construction project management, demystifying the process and equipping you with the knowledge needed to tackle it head-on. We will begin by assessing the situation thoroughly, identifying any signs of plumbing failures or mold infestations.


Following our assessment, we'll delve into conducting market research to understand the materials and services you’ll need. We will also discuss how to effectively interview contractors, ensuring you collaborate with professionals who meet your standards and budget.


Finally, I will guide you through creating a comprehensive project plan. This plan will include a detailed budget, a realistic schedule, and a clear statement of work, setting you up for success in managing your home's plumbing and mold issues efficiently and effectively.


Step 1:  Check Humidity Levels

  • Utilize hygrometers: To effectively manage and monitor the humidity levels in my home, I have installed several hygrometers throughout the property. These devices are linked to an app on my phone, allowing me to check the moisture levels in real-time, no matter where I am.

  • Data analysis: I regularly export the data from these hygrometers to my computer, where I overlay it with local weather data. This analysis helps me understand how external weather conditions influence the indoor environment of my home.

  • Building envelope concerns: My home’s exterior—or the "skin of the building"—is in a dilapidated state, which significantly impacts the humidity levels inside. With 40-year-old windows and a drainage system that desperately needs updating, it's clear that these factors contribute to the challenges I face with indoor moisture and mold.

Conclusion to Step 1: Understanding Current conditions and their impact

Having completed our initial assessment, it's clear that understanding the environmental factors within our homes is crucial for effective mold remediation and plumbing management. By utilizing hygrometers and data analysis, I can monitor the humidity levels throughout my house, exporting this data to my computer to overlay it with external weather conditions. This analysis has been instrumental in revealing how significantly the weather interacts with the indoor environment.


Furthermore, the current state of my home's exterior—the "skin of the building"—has proven to be a major factor affecting indoor humidity levels. The presence of 40-year-old windows and an outdated drainage system has highlighted the inefficiencies in my building’s envelope, underscoring the need for urgent updates.


Moving forward, the insights gained from this assessment will guide our actions in the subsequent steps of this project, ensuring that we address not only the symptoms but also the underlying causes of the issues we face.


Step 2:  Assessing and Updating Plumbing Equipment and Market Research

Evaluating Current Equipment:

Our next step is to carefully evaluate the existing plumbing equipment. Upon inspection, I’ve determined that much of the equipment has surpassed its optimal usage period and is due for an upgrade. This assessment is crucial to ensure that we are not only fixing immediate issues but also improving the overall efficiency and functionality of our home’s plumbing system.


Conducting Market Research:

  • Identify available options: Start by researching the latest products on the market. This includes comparing specifications, reading user reviews, and understanding the cost implications of different models.


  • Technological advancements: It’s important to consider how technology has evolved since your last installation. Look for enhancements that offer better efficiency, longevity, and environmental benefits.


Assessment of Existing Plumbing Infrastructure:

During my initial home inspection, it was revealed that the plumbing was outfitted with Quest pipes, a material known for its issues and no longer in use in modern installations. The recommendation was clear: these pipes needed to be replaced with PEX, the current industry standard, to ensure safety and efficiency.


Life Cycle Considerations and Homeowner Preparedness:

Further evaluation indicated that nearly all components of the house's plumbing system were at the end of their life cycle. Being aware of these issues prior to purchasing the house, I was prepared for the challenges ahead. My background as an architect and project manager equipped me with the skills necessary to address these concerns effectively.


It's crucial for homeowners, especially those planning to live in the house during renovations, to fully understand the scope and demands of such projects. Renovation requires not just technical skills but also a significant level of organization, methodical planning, and resilience. Even those of us with decades of experience in the industry face 'unknown unknowns'—unexpected challenges that arise during construction.


Before deciding to manage renovations on your own, honestly assess whether you possess the necessary qualities and readiness to handle potential setbacks. If you have any doubts about your capacity to manage these challenges, consider engaging professionals such as architects, general contractors, and engineers. Choosing to rely on experienced professionals can often lead to a more streamlined and less stressful renovation process. It's essential to be honest with yourself about what you are capable of undertaking.


Strategic Upgrades and Home Layout Revisions:

The decision to overhaul the plumbing system aligned with my broader vision for the home. I planned to completely redesign the layout to reflect my personal preferences and needs. This approach ensured that any upgrades or changes would be integral to the design, rather than merely superficial enhancements. Additionally, the cost of the house had already accounted for these necessary updates, making it a financially viable project that allowed for occupancy throughout all phases of design and construction.


Exploring New Technology

 Upgrading to a Heat Pump Water Heater:

I am particularly interested in upgrading to a heat pump water heater, which stands out due to its significant energy efficiency compared to traditional models. This type of water heater operates on a principle that differs markedly from conventional water heaters by extracting heat from the surrounding air and using it to heat water.


Installation Requirements:

  • Space requirements: One critical consideration is the space needed for installation. A heat pump water heater requires a minimum room size of 10 feet by 10 feet with a ceiling height of at least 7 feet. It’s essential to ensure that other equipment in the room does not compromise the water heater's ability to function effectively.


  • Environmental considerations: Since heat pumps extract heat from the air, the location and climate of your installation can affect their efficiency. For example, in colder regions, a heat pump water heater may cause the home's heating system to work harder during the winter months, as it pulls heat from the surrounding air.


Conclusion to Step 2: Balancing Technology and Home Compatibility

When considering upgrades, it is vital to check that your home can accommodate the specific requirements of the new equipment. This includes space, environmental factors, and any additional infrastructure changes that may be necessary to support the new technology efficiently.



In Part 2 I will discuss equipment research and how to discuss your options with professionals in the industry.

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Plumbing Project Part 2: Researching Equipment and Discussing Options with Professionals In my previous post, I evaluated the current state of my plumbing system and discussed the necessity of strateg


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