Back to List of Entries

Get the Most out of RSMeans Data: Plumbing Edition


Accurate estimates during the planning process decrease the likelihood of cost overruns, ultimately saving both time and money down the line. With RSMeans data being the ultimate tool in achieving that accurate estimate, we want you to experience our product at its maximum potential.

In this week’s tip series, we explore best practices and important details to take into consideration when estimating your next plumbing project.

To begin, most pipe is initially priced as straight pipe with a joint (coupling, weld, etc.) every 10’ and a hanger typically every 10’. Hanger spacing comes with exceptions, including cast iron pipe (5’) and plastic pipe (3 per 10’). Several lines listing sizes and the amount to be subtracted to delete couplings and hangers follows each type of pipe – this is included for pipe that is to be buried or supported together on trapeze hangers. Couplings are deleted because these runs are usually long and often longer lengths of pipe are often used. In deleting the couplings, it is expected the estimator will look up and add back the correct reduced number of couplings.

While preparing an estimate, approximating the fittings may be necessary. Fittings usually run between 25% and 50% of the cost of the pipe – the lower percentage is for simpler runs and the higher number is for complex areas (e.g. mechanical rooms).

During historic restoration projects, the systems must be as invisible as possible, and pathways must be sought for pipes, conduit and ductwork.  Labor costs may be more difficult to determine when delivery systems must be concealed as opposed to when they are performed in accessible spaces such as basements and attics. 

Plumbing fixture costs generally require two lines: the fixture itself and its “rough-in, supply and waste. And remember, gas- and oil-fired units require venting.

For more information on how to best use RSMeans data, RSMeans seminars and trainings are a great resource. See a full listing of seminars and find one in a location near you.