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Question DetailsAsked on 10/24/2016

How much would you assume a 2500sqf house to be replumbed?

The house was built in 1900 and is a 2 story home. A previous inspection stated that the water supply system did not hold pressure at the time of testing.

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I would not assume - depends SO much on how exposed the piping is, whether it is centralized in the core of the building (usually only in cold weather areas), what type of pipe it is (rougher to take out cast iron or lead or asbestos than copper/brass for instance), whether you are talking water supply lines only or sewer also, underground portion or just in-house (and for in-house part, all above slab or some buried under a slab), etc.

Also - if replacing sewer lines, with what material. Ditto for water - copper takes longer but some areas/people prefer it, PEX or similar goes in MUCH quicker and can sometimes reduce the number of openings needed to pull the new plumbing, but has higher failure rate.

Also, for in-floor or in-wall piping, what material is being cut into to do the repiping - BIG difference between drywall finishes and lath and plaster or mesh and plaster, or even hardwood panelling or copper ceilings or such.

And of course, whether you are replacing to (including) the fixture shutoff valves, or also replacing flex lines and fixctures (faucets, shower heads, etc) for a TOTAL replacement changes the price too.

And don't forget added cost if you have any sort of steam or hot water heating system - hydronic baseboard, radiator, or in-floor.

And to some people TOTAL replacement includes replacing water softener/water treatment system, heating system boiler if applicable, hot water heater, garbage disposal, well system (excepting the well itself) if on well, etc. And of course, DWV (drain/waste/vent) system can mean only the main stack to some, all drains complete to the fixxtures to others, and may or may not include the vent stack, sewer run to the street or septic tank, septic system, etc - so you have to clearly define the scope of work.

Range - pretty wide open depending on construction and local labor costs and such, but to give you a VERY rough ballpark is better than leaving you totally in the cold. Simplest open-access piping in basement and attic can run as low as a couple to a few thousand for that size house - ditto for totally central plumbed house (all plumbing in a tight zone from basement to top floor, with all water usages basically "stacked" tightly together (usually 1980's and newer construction) - meaning commonly back-to-back bathrooms and adjacent kitchen and laundry room so total length of pipe runs within the house are short and centralized. On the other end I have seen piping replacements (water and sewer, ALL piping including faucets and such except for water heaters/boiler and septic) run to the $20,000 range where it was embedded in concrete or brick construction, and even more where it involved having to excavate in a busy street or under railroad line or such to replace the connections to the public utility lines.

For water line replacement in the house only $3000-5000 is a commonly thrown around range for normal wood frame construction with in-floor and in-wall routing of the pipes - plus a couple thousand typically surface repair and repainting if most of the piping is not openly accessible in basement/crawlspace/attic, so commonly nearer $6-8,000 than $5000 is common for total job cost (less of course if done during a general remodel where drywall/plaster work and repainting is happening anyway) by the time you factor in all that. Add including replacement of all water piping to the street and you commonly get into the $7,000-12,000 range depending on length of run and depth of burial (below frost zone).

Sewer pipe replacement costs typically a thousand or so higher cost than water lines for same respective scope, assuming using plastic sewer pipe for the replacement - and sometimes additional thousand or two finishes repair depending on whether water and sewer pipes were run so same openings could access them or not. So, replacing both water and DWV lines can easily get to the $10,000 range quickly for normal size house - and pushing $15-20,000 is not uncommon if you include the runs to the street, and typically another almost certainly $5000 and up to $10-25,000 more for a new septic system if needed.

Some simply laid out houses with open-joist high crawlspace or basement (downstairs) and heated attic water piping (for upstairs) can go pretty quickly and cheap - getting into brick or concrete construction or party walls or such can rapidly drive the cost up - as can condo/apartment/townhouse situations where you have to go through the floor because you do not have legal access through the underlying ceiling. Ditto to some tract housing where a lot of the piping was embedded in the floor slabs even for runs within the basement/downstairs.


Not knowing what the condition of the piping is - though if original the water piping at least is probably not in great shape unless lead (which you would probably want to replace anyway for health reasons), but cast iron DWV might be found to be in fairly decent condition if routed out and inspected with camera - though if original 116 years plus presumably another 20+ expectation is asking a lot, so normally if replacing water one would replace this DWV piping too.

IF you don't mind having old piping, if basically in good condition, should not take more than a couple to a few hundred to track down WHERE the system was losing pressure - assuming the test was done right and it was actually losing pressure. I ahve seen a LOT of water system pressure retention tests that failed because they did not stop changes in pressure from a drip drain filling system, running toilets or faucets, pressure changes from connected boiler or water treatment system, "instant hot water" system circulating pump, etc. Even a reefer making ice during the test can make it fail.

Certainly if you are BUYING this house and the water system came up as an inspection item, you would want FIRM bids good till at least say 60 days after scheduled closing date to base your estimated cost on, not some WAG sight-unseen. And be sure to check with insurance company - many will not insure against ANY water damage (or insure it at all) in a house with plumbing that old, so that could affect your decision too.

Also - bear in mind in getting bids (or in talking to your architect if you have one) about required upgrades to current code - because if replacing the entire plumbing system you are almost always required to bring it up to current code - which can mean modifications in the plumbing sometimes, and commonly for that old a house may require (depending on local code) upsizing from 2-1/2 or 3" DWV to 4" in at least part of the house - which can cause nasty space interference issues at times. Might even involve upsizing (for code or water functionality reasons) water lines from 1/2" to 3/4" too - can mean a lot more opening up of walls and ceilings to redrill through studs and joists with copper, if steel or asbestos or cast iron water pipes usually changing them to 3/4" or even 1" copper or PEX is not a problem because those type pipes are so much thicker walled.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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