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Lakefront Log Home Project: Log Home Diary Entry #30, Finishing Work Pt. 4

Plumbing fixtures may sound basic, but the selection and installation process is anything but. See how our bloggers handled this part of the building process.
by George and Marlyn Curnow

Finishing Work — Part 4

Log Home Diary Entry #30
Credit: George and Marlyn Curnow image | Open Space
Now that we have covered electrical installation and our security system, we want to talk plumbing.

Plumbing Installation: Plumbing should take some careful thought. Much of the plumbing for the kitchen and bathrooms is obvious, but we needed to think about the extras we wanted. In our case, there were not too many. Inside the house, we added plumbing for a small round copper bar/vegetable sink on the center island in the kitchen. We also wanted a utility sink in the garage to keep messy cleanup work closer to the source.

Outside, we wanted external cold-water faucet in both the back and front of the house. (With proper placement, two would be enough.) For the one in front, the lack of exposed foundation made it more practical for us to use an external water hydrant connected to the well-water line running to the house. We also opted for two additional hydrant-type water sources along the same water line from the well. One hydrant is about 150 feet up the driveway from the house; the second is about 350 feet from the house. This gives us access to water for whatever our future needs may be.

Although we don’t have a particular use for this remote water at the moment, it is far cheaper to install access now than afterward.

As with the electrical work, the plumbing subcontractor should have some experience in log-home construction. Very little copper seems to be used anymore, apparently because of cost. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or the newer polyethylene blue and red flexible lines known as PEX plumbing seem to be used most often in custom homes. Running hot and cold water lines, drains, and air vents requires some workarounds, as log posts, girder beams and floor beams tend to get in the way. In a conventional home, our plumber said he can put it on automatic pilot and do the work without much thought. Not so in a log home.

In addition to plumbing installation, time-consuming decisions revolve around plumbing fixtures. The choices are immense, and so is the cost, which runs from pricey to very pricey. If you have no budget constraints, then you can really have crazy fun here. We ended with a bit of a mixture and went well over the builder’s allowance (our fault, not his). We went over budget in frequent-use areas and were more conservative in the other areas. In summary:

  • Kitchen – We chose a white porcelain farm sink and a hand-hammered round copper bar/vegetable sink for the island.
  • Bathrooms – In general, we opted to step up from the big-box store fixtures with plastic innards to more costly (hopefully longer-lasting) upgrades. For the half bath, we chose an old-fashioned toilet with a high wall-mounted tank and pull chain to complement the aura of a log cabin. The big add-on for the master bath was a soaking tub with air jets and a heated back. The remaining two baths are more standard, with a quality fiberglass shower tub and shower stall.

We’re sure every home-building project has its humorous moments. One of ours occurred when we reached out to family members for plumbing fixture advice because they had prior home-building experience. The passion of opinion concerning toilets was breathtakingly funny. It even extended to our plumbing fixture supply house salesperson, who said she simply could not let us choose anything but Toto toilets. She swore by them. Although we ended up taking her advice, we did not opt for the knee-slapping funny remote control (water spray, warm air dry, etc.). Sorry, it just doesn’t go with a log home.

Next, we’ll continue talking about the plumbing-related topic of septic installation. (It just doesn’t get much more exciting than that.)

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