Owner Builder Roughs

Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical

The owner builder will schedule the rough contractors to come in following frame complete. The three trade contractors that enter the home are the plumbers, the mechanical contractor and the electricians. If a sprinkler system is required in your home, a licensed fire protection company will also be in the house. While all of these contractors can work simultaneously, it makes for an awful situation. Avoid it by scheduling them separately

Rough Plumbing

The plumbing contractor is responsible for running the natural gas line, water lines: hot and cold, waste lines and vents. They are usually the first trade on the project after framing. They will begin by installing the gas lines. Waste lines and venting will follow and finally the plumbers will run the water lines. An owner builder can recognize the hot and cold water lines by their color. You guessed it, red is hot, blue is cold. It is advised that the owner builder personally inspect all sink, toilet, tub and shower locations to verify that hot and cold water lines are run and are not reversed.

Plumbers have earned a bad reputation among the trades for causing damage. There is often a disregard for wood blocking, etc that plumbers percieve as “ in the way”. A good plumber will make sure his or her crews notch or drill clean holes for their lines to pass through blocking. Discuss this with them on the front end and get a commitment that they will do clean work on your project. The owner builder should always insist on a full sweep of the house when a trade is complete. For more information on plumbing visit our plumbing page.

Rough Mechanical

Also known as HVAC ( Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning ), Mechanical is a key element to house performance. The mechanical contractor will run the ductwork in the attic or, if the home has a crawlspace, perhaps under the floor joists. Typically, the HVAC will take 3-4 days to complete including ductwork installation, A/C Cans, and the forced air unit (FAU) and condensation lines. It is important that they eliminate kinks in the ductwork. Kinks will make proper air flow difficult and increase energy costs. The forced air unit will have to work harder to meet thermostat requirements. Ductwork sagging can be minimized by strapping the ducts every 4 feet. A/C cans should be sealed with mastic to prevent leakage. The tighter the seal, the straighter the run, the clearer the duct equals an easier job for your FAU and lower bills for you down the line. These items are easily visible and can be inspected by the owner builder. View our Crawlspace Page to view a video showing HVAC in a crawlspace application.

Rough Electrical

This is the wiring of the house. Electricians will use the approved plans to layout where outlets, switches, light fixtures, cable and telephone will all go. They will protect lines passing through wood members with flat metal strips called “ dottie plates.” Romex wire should be stapled to studs so they aren’t hanging freely. Sagging or hanging wires are liable to be caught by a tool and pulled out or damaged. That damage can be hidden in the wall and become a danger later on. Wires inside of outlets and fixtures should be capped for safety. This is a time to consider carefully what type of fixtures and fans you want, AND where to place them. When the electricians are done, it is advised to walk with your contractor and note any areas that you expected outlets or fixtures that might have been missed. At this time the owner builder may recognize that they want some additional outlets or a lighting change. The time for an electrical change order is now, not after the drywall is complete, paint is done and you are nearly finished. At that point it becomes extremely expensive and time consuming because multiple trades are involved. The owner builder should expect the rough electrical inspection to be very meticulous.

Fire Protection: Sprinklers

A sprinkler requirement is becoming more common in many cities and counties. This is definitely something that should be investigated during your preconstruction discovery.

Normally the sprinkler system is installed by an independent, licensed fire protection company. Sometimes plumbing contractors are licensed for this work, but not often. They will run their sprinkler pipe in the attic. It is usually a distinctive color so it is not confused with other water lines or condensation lines. Proper placement of the sprinklers is critical because there are requirments for clearance etc. This needs to be hashed out during the home design phase. Redesigning the sprinkler system can have an impact on everything else. When the fire protection/ sprinkler contractor is done running their lines, they will pressurize and the fire department will inspect. Normally, the building inspector will not sign your rough framing unless the fire department has passed the sprinkler system.