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Show Highlights

Graham and Jake talk about the confusing world of plumbing for your float center. There are any number of unpleasant surprises that can come about when planning the water lines to showers, getting floor drains in place, and making sure everything lines up how it’s supposed to. If the sewer main is too deep or not where you think it is, it can add a significant amount of cost to your build out just to get floor drains installed. Fortunately, the guys have some useful tricks to help mitigate costs and plan accordingly.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: All right. Welcome everybody.

Jake: All right. All right. All right. Welcome.

Graham: I am Graham.

Jake: I am Jake.

Graham: And Ashkahn’s still away for just a little bit longer.

Jake: Yeah.

Graham: In the meantime, still here, still podcasting.

Jake: Still living it.

Graham: Still living it. Still rocking out the construction questions.

Jake: Loving them.

Graham: Speaking of which, here’s another one.

Jake: Oh, goodness.

Graham: “Is there anything that I should pay special attention to for existing plumbing and water supply when I am choosing a space?”

Jake: Pointed question, certainly not vague. Yeah, actually this jumps into that looking at existing amenities first base. We’re curious what’s going on with electrical. We curious what’s going on with HVAC, and we’re obviously curious what’s going on with our plumbing supply and our drainage.

One, how deep is that sewer main? You know we’ve got to be getting rid of all this water from all these showers in these tanks. It’s a very different story if my sewer main is three feet down versus a sewer main that’s like eight feet down. As far as cost goes-

Graham: Or 16 feet down.

Jake: Or 16 feet down.

Graham: Which is the case with one of our clients.

Jake: One of our past apprentices

Graham: They had to terminate their lease that they already signed, and been like, “We actually can’t afford to run all the plumbing that we need to run-

Jake: It involved earth bracing, all kinds of crazy things.

Graham: Yeah, yeah.

Jake: Yeah, they had to walk away.

Graham: And totally mention it was not even something that was on my radar to pay attention to-

Jake: Right.

Graham: -but they can actually make or break a space. It’s just the depth of your existing-

Jake: For sure. We were lucky-

Graham: -plumbing, yeah.

Jake: – ours is not that deep. You don’t know a problem until you see somebody else like, “Ooo, that looks like it stung.” All right. So, yeah, where that things at. How can you access it? Is your space, again, above a parking garage or something like that? How is drainage going to happen? Do you need to build a raised subfloor accomplish your drainage because the landlord won’t let you cut into the slab, or is there a bunch of conduits running through that slab, that you only find out once you start x-raying the slab during the due diligence phase.

So, drainage, clearly a big thing for us. Then also the other side of that that I think people forget a lot, the supply lines coming into your shop, making sure you actually have enough water. A lot of supply lines are three quarters of an inch. If you’re close to the street, and you’re on the first floor of a building, and you only have like four tanks or something like that, that might be sufficient for you if you don’t have neighbors using a bunch of water.

Once you start moving farther away from the source. Depending on the size of your property and if you actually, if you’re on a second story where you’re losing that half PSI per foot that you’re climbing in height, that’s going to change your requirements. You may end up looking at this being like, “Wow, I need to bring a new water main, and maybe I’m looking at an inch and a quarter as far as my diameter for my pipes because I’m going to be running six showers. I’m going to be running laundry. I’m going to have all these things going on.”

If you don’t appropriately size what’s the downside, what happens, zero pressure. People are floating, and then they go to jump in your shower, and it’s a drizzle, it’s a dibble if anything. We actually went through this at Float On.

Graham: Yeah, we’ve been having some issues recently-

Jake: It’s been crazy.

Graham: -with more water pressure.

Jake: You know-

Graham: Largely, it’s a result of some work-

Jake: A neighbor.

Graham: – the neighbors had done.

Jake: Yeah.

Graham: Yeah.

Jake: One of our neighbors came in-

Graham: And works that had been done before and to quite done properly. Anyway-

Jake: Long story short, our water pressure got squelched, and now, we’re in the process of trying to, we’re trying to update that. We’ve done a few bypasses, pass all the crazy stuff that they did. We got back to a decent pressure, but still we have less because they’re pulling all the water they’re pulling. Our next step, and we’re working with the city right now, is to tear up the parking lot behind Float On, and we’re going to run a brand new supply line with a sub-meter and all this other stuff just so that we never run out of pressure again at our shop.

Graham: And by the way that’s kind of the stuff that you’d have to do if you didn’t do due diligence moving into your space.

Jake: Right, yeah.

Graham: Then you realize you need to upgrade. It’s like, “Oh, well, now we need to tear up this sidewalk or this parking lot, or whatever, and then add in a bunch more cost for labor and the extra permits from the city.”

Jake: Absolutely.

Graham: It’s not a small project.

Jake: No.

Graham: And not to say that if you’re in love with the space, and the supply lines isn’t big enough, and you do need to do upgrades, that that’s a disqualifier. Just mentally account for that. Right?

Jake: Yeah.

Graham: You’re added a-

Jake: Much better to do it in the beginning generally. Yeah. Yeah. “How do we determine what’s the right size?” Well, you communicate effectively with your contractor. Every one of those units, like every one of the showers, every sink, every washer that you have on your space-

Graham: Toilet.

Jake: Yeah, every toilet, they have a certain calculation associated with them with how much cubic feet of water is moving through that fixture. Then you basically have a total for your whole space, and then you determine a few other things, like how far you are from your water source and everything. Again, if you’re only 40 feet away, you can get much more pressure on a smaller line.

Whereas, if you’re 200 feet away, you need a bigger line to keep that 40 to 60 PSI or whatever. But just communicate with your contractor. Make sure that they understand that you’re going to be running however many showers at the exact same time, and you may be doing laundry, and they should be able to help you decide on an appropriately sized line.

I think I have another thing about drainage that I actually forgot. I kind of like to get it written out on the floor plans from the landlord where it’s actually located on the property-

Graham: Oh yeah.

Jake: Is it running directly under my space? We know somebody that went through a nightmare, where the landlord, just with pencil, drew on a floor plan like, “Hey, the sewer main is right here.” The tenant accepted it. They went to start breaking ground. They started excavating. They couldn’t find the sewer main. Turns out that the records that the landlord had were incorrect. The sewer main was actually underneath a neighboring spot, which threw their build out back several months because you need to bring in a new supply line. You need to do all this other stuff because you can’t just cut up a neighbor’s spot.

Yeah, so kind of crazy. If they don’t know, you could always apply for a drain scope, which means spend a little money, have somebody come out. They can stick a camera down one of the main drains, like through a clean-out of something like that. That camera’s got a little magnet on it, and they basically inspect the lines. What they’re looking for are breakages in the lines. Do you have roots coming through or anything like that. Also, with that magnet, you can determine where the path of the drain is going, and the depth of that drain. So, if things get wishy-washy and you’re not really sure, drain scope, never a bad idea.

Graham: Probably just a good thing to do before you hop on-

Jake: Yeah.

Graham: and sign a lease regardless. I feel like if we were moving into another space-

Jake: It’s like $110.

Graham: Yeah, I’d want a drain scope-

Jake: Oh, yeah.

Graham: -just check it out. It’s just part of, again, our own due diligence.

Jake: We’re paranoid fellows though.

Graham: Yes, we are pretty paranoid, but again, you just see these things go wrong, and all of a sudden, your sewer main is under your neighbor’s space.

Jake: Yeah.

Graham: It’s just like I don’t want to have to deal with that. I always think of small expenses like that as the very cheap insurance.

Jake: Right.

Graham: That you only have to pay once.

Jake: Absolutely.

Graham: Compared to monthly. You know what I mean?

Jake: “What do you do if you can’t afford to upgrade, if you can’t get to something, if it’s a huge project and the building owner won’t let you upsize?” We have seen a few people utilize pressure boosters. Basically, it’s a holding tank. Your supply lines comes in. It pressurizes that supply lines, so then you get a little more pressure out to your shower heads and everything like that.

I usually see those on well systems where somebody’s working off a well instead of a municipal water supply though, but we’ve seen it in both things. One caution from our contractor, the reason we actually didn’t just install a pressure booster is we had older lines and we ran the risk of putting a pressure booster on there, not our lines, but the lines outside of our shop shared with our neighbor spaces. They were worried that we might potentially rupture one.

They were also worried that if we put a pressure booster in our system, we might pull sediment from our neighbor’s water heaters through our lines back into our stuff, and then start clogging up our shower heads and things like that. So again, there are options other than fighting with the city for three months and cutting up your parking lot, but everything comes, as you probably heard me say over and over again, everything comes with trade offs. It really does.

Graham: Yeah, one last thought on the existing plumbing when you’re moving in is definitely keep in mind that this is plumbing for, often times, the entire building. So, you’re not just counting up the fixtures-

Jake: Absolutely.

Graham: – in your space. You’re not just counting on what you’re doing, and then that’s going to determine the supply lines size. You’re counting everything. Sometimes that even includes past construction. So, it could be that people in the building prior in your exact same space had already added in a bunch of fixtures, and then the person before you in that space took them all out.

So, you kind of need to do some research and find out what’s on file with the city as the maximum number of fixtures that they’ve actually hit for your whole building space. Anyway, there’s this extra step where you kinda just need to realize you’re not the only one often times that’s pulling off of that same water supply.

Jake: And it’s super, super unfortunate if all of a sudden, you realize that there’s work done on a property that was unpermitted, because that does cost. They’re going to fall on you as the new tenant, and possibly on the landlord, but often we see it fall on the tenant.

Graham: The landlord’s really going to make sure that it doesn’t fall on them.

Jake: Yeah, they’re really good at that, real slimy.

Graham: That’s like they’re professionals.

Jake: Yeah, it’s almost like they have a game of taking our money. Just one other note when I’m thinking about drainage and supply and everything. Where are the stacks for the toilets already located? Are you going to be utilizing existing stacks? By stack, I just mean the drainage directly underneath your toilet.

Where are those located? Because if you start moving those around, you do open yourself up to some more ADA scrutiny. Those new bathrooms will need to be compliant. Whereas if you have an existing bathroom, you may not need to make that complaint. As you probably heard on some of my other shows, my stance is that I wish everything was ADA compliant, but you know there’s cost. There’s things there. You know what I mean?

There might be a benefit to leaving that one toilet in that corner and building a brand new beautiful ADA bathroom over here, so that you still have two. So yeah, I think that’s kind of my last thought on that.

Graham: Cool.

Jake: All right.

Graham: That was a good one.

Jake: Yeah, it’s great.

Graham: Just like all of them. They’re amazing.

Jake: They’re pretty good.

Graham: And our answers are so-so, but the questions-

Jake: Oh, the answers, no. The answers are terrible.

Graham: This is spectacular.

Jake: But the questions, piece of art.

Graham: If you have your own, go to FloatTankSolutions.com/podcast.

Graham: I was going to say it.

Jake: You were going to say the /podcast.

Graham: It’s only because you do a better job than I do.

Jake: Okay. Well, here. I’ll do the FloatTankSolutions.com-

Graham: Okay. Bye everyone. Talk to you tomorrow.

Jake: Have a great day.

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