Plumbing in a barndominium is a bit different from plumbing in a traditional single-family home. Even though you’ll be working with the same basic principles and techniques, the layout of your barndominium will require you to think outside the box. Because of the nature of a barndominium’s structure, the floor plan should be well laid out before any plumbing is done.
You can plumb your barndominium by digging trenches before the foundation is set and then laying down the pipework. Since barndominiums are not built like traditional homes, you need to lay down the pipework before the foundation. Next, install the main supply and drainage pipes and check for leaks.
In the rest of this article, I’ll share the steps to plumbing your barndominium. I’ll also discuss the things you should consider before beginning any plumbing work, and the different types of pipes that you can use.
How To Plumb a Barndominium
Arguably, the most important thing you need to do when plumbing a barn condo is to determine where the various fixtures and appliances will be located before the work begins.
The easiest way to approach this is to imagine everything as if it were already in place, with all fixtures and appliances connected. From there, you can mark off the layout of your piping.
Once you’re ready to begin, get down to work by following these steps:
1. Start by Digging Trenches and Then Lay Down the Pipes
This should be done before the concrete is poured. Following the floor plan, ensure the pipes have been laid properly because there’s no room for mistakes – once the concrete is poured in, there’s no going back, and any errors at this point will be difficult to fix. If it helps, work closely with your contractor during this critical stage of the process to avoid costly mistakes.
2. Carry Out the Rough Plumbing
The next step in this process is rough plumbing. Here, all the water supply pipes, i.e., those that will run water throughout the entire barndominium and drainage pipes, will be installed. Again, be sure to conduct a thorough inspection of the pipes before the slab is sealed to avoid costly repairs and adjustments in the future.
3. Check for Accidental Leaks
Accidents happen when you least expect them to. During the installation of the pipes, there might be accidental breakages of the pipes or improper sealing of the pipe joints, which eventually leads to leakage. Before the concrete slab is laid, conduct a test run to ensure that there are no leaks in the drainage system.
Allow the water to flow inside the pipes, and monitor your pipework inch by inch. Seal off any leaks you find in the pipe permanently by attaching a pipe clamp with a rubber gasket to the leaking pipe. Epoxy and pipe putty are temporary solutions, and as such, you’ll want to avoid them. Leaking pipes should be corrected immediately to avoid deterioration of the concrete which may cause structural issues.
Once all the leakage points are sealed off, the concrete slab is then poured, and the floor is sealed.
4. Check Your Bathroom Plumbing
Bathroom plumbing practices may vary depending on your region’s plumbing codes. The standard height for a lavatory’s drain is approximately 18 inches (45.72 cm) above the floor. The spacing for hot and cold water pipes should be about 6 inches (15.24 cm) apart unless the hot water pipe is insulated.
5. Carry Out the Kitchen Plumbing
The final plumbing is done in your kitchen. After all the main pipes have been installed, the sinks and faucets can then be put in. Ensure that the shutoff valves are working properly to regulate water flow. The wastewater should flow freely without getting clogged in the drainage pipes.
What To Consider Before Plumbing a Barndominium
Plumbing a barndominium takes a little skill and patience. Since you want everything done right the first time, there’s a lot to consider before you get down to work. Keep the following things in mind before beginning any plumbing work on your barndo:
- Location: The climate and quality of water in the region where your barndominium is located can influence several aspects of your plumbing including the type of pipes you should use.
- Floor plan: You must ensure that the entire floor plan is completed before plumbing starts, especially when it comes to where you want your sinks, faucets, and bathrooms placed. Your floor plan will help you lay out your piping in the best way possible for your home.
- Pipes: Ensure that your pipes are durable and of good quality. These pipes will be laid beneath several inches of concrete and stone, so making any replacements will be difficult. Note that barndominiums are built on completely sealed concrete slabs and that the piping is done right before slabbing.
- Building materials: We’ll discuss this in more detail below, but you must ensure your chosen materials are compatible with your plumbing fixtures and appliances.
- Utilities: What utilities (power, water, etc.) feed your property? Take note of these utilities and their supply lines to avoid damaging them.
- Structural considerations: We’ll also get into this in detail below, but it’s essential to think about how your plumbing might affect the structural integrity of your barn.
Always do your homework beforehand to find out if there exist any area regulations about plumbing. Avoid being on the wrong side of any city, state, and homeowner association regulations and guidelines about the plumbing in the area, as this could attract hefty fines.
Types of Pipes You Can Use When Plumbing a Barndominium
Generally, you’ll want to use durable, reliable pipes for any kind of plumbing work. On that note, there are tons of options out in the market to choose from. Here are the most common pipes you’re likely to find depending on what you’re installing:
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Pipes
ABS plastic makes very strong and non-flexible pipes. These pipes are highly resistant to corrosion and would therefore be best suited for use as waste drainage pipes. They are also non-toxic, making them one of the safest piping options available.
Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) Pipes
CPVC pipes are relatively expensive, and for a good reason. These pipes are incredibly durable and built to withstand extreme temperatures. You can use these pipes in your bathroom to supply hot or cold water.
Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes
These pipes are pocket-friendly, durable, and very easy to work with. They are also resistant to corrosion. Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride pipes are ideal for distributing cold water throughout your barndominium.
Polyvinyl Chloride Pipes (PVC)
These pipes are the most popular option because they mix a wide array of characteristics you need in a good quality pipe. Metal pipes can easily get clogged and corroded, making it difficult for water to be distributed throughout the property. PVC is an excellent replacement for such metal pipes.
Metal pipes require constant maintenance as a result of chemical reactions that occur as water flows through them. This maintenance may be difficult to do in a barndominium. PVC pipes are the best alternative as they are both flexible and durable. What they lack in strength is compensated for by their versatility, affordability, and resistance to chemical corrosion.
Due to their rust resistance, copper pipes are ideal for carrying hot water around your barndominium. These pipes are small in diameter and do not bend easily when subjected to high temperatures.
On a related note, you should read my guide on ventilating a barndo. You’ll learn how optimal window design can increase your ventilation efficiency, and you’ll learn about the effect of insulation.
Plumbing a barndominium requires extensive careful planning. Piping is laid underneath a layer of concrete, so getting the layout of your pipes right is crucial to avoid costly do-overs down the line. When plumbing, you also need to consider factors such as your barndominium’s location and the types of pipes that you will use.
As you lay down the piping, look out for leaks along the length of your pipes and seal them without delay. Also, ensure that you adhere to your region’s plumbing codes to avoid steep fines.