Poor Design

Something that really bothers me is poor design for the sake of saving a few percent of the total budget of a project. So what brought this up? We have a basement with a floor drain. The floor drain backed up in the basement. Not really bad, but enough to be problematic. Luckily for us, my brother is a plumber and lives in town. He came over and found the problem in about 5 minutes. At some point in the 85 year life of our home, the owner installed a valve that prevents storm sewer water from backing up into the house (ie. basement floor drain). The valve was made out of what appeared to be cast iron. It rusted and broke off. Luckily for us, it wedged against the entrance to the main house pipe that goes out to the street sewer. How does poor design come into this? The valve and hardware should have been constructed from stainless steel, or a steel grade with high nickel content, or at a minimum, been coated with something to prevent corrosion. Additional cost for this? My guess is less than $100. Considering plumbers get $100 or so just to show up, then an additional $50 or so per hour, that additional incremental cost would have been well worth it.

Additionally my brother told me that we were very lucky that the valve didn’t make it into the main pipe going out to the street. He said that if that would have happened, we would have to dig up the front yard to get to the pipe and replace the pipe. Why? Because the pipe that goes from your house to the sewer main is only about 4″ in diameter. Think about what the incremental cost of going to an 8″ pipe would be. A few grand at the most? To me, a few grand extra over a 30 year mortage to ensure that I don’t have to dig my front yard up becasue something got stuck in the pipe is a few grand well spent.

I have seen this incremental cost issue come up in design frequently. To me, it is almost always worth it to spend the extra cash.

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