Why Real Estate Investors and Developers Upgrade to Copper Pipes in Fix-and-Flip and Fix-to-Rent Projects

Updating the plumbing in a home can cost upwards of $6,000 due to the invasive nature of replacing pipes behind walls or other hard to reach places, which might make it sound like a daunting task. However, during a remodel, those walls and the like are often already exposed, making it the best time to take on a plumbing project. Turning an older home—especially one that’s fallen into disrepair—into a successful flip means making the most of every opportunity your remodel provides, like redoing the plumbing. And investing in quality building materials, such as copper piping, can be a major selling point when showing the house to prospective homebuyers.

Know When to Replace the Plumbing

Older homes may come with more internal issues, such as problematic plumbing, but they also offer real estate investors the rare opportunity to take a dilapidated house and turn it into a desirable, quality piece of property. It’s important not to write them off entirely, but instead take the time to investigate the current plumbing in order to determine your next steps.

Many homes from the 50s or earlier used galvanized pipes as a replacement for the dangerous lead pipes used in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, those homes with galvanized plumbing are seeing a rise in pipe problems in their later years. If your rehab property was built in the 50s, chances are high that it has those aging galvanized pipes. Because your walls, floors, and ceilings hide much of the piping, try checking under sinks and in crawl spaces to determine if your home has them. Any exposed piping will be an indicator of what is in the rest of the home.

From about 1970 until the 1990s, Polybutylene pipes were a hit with plumbing contractors. Unfortunately, the material used in these pipes very commonly develops cracks. If your fixer-upper has these ticking time bomb pipes, replacing them is vital to closing a sale. Savvy home buyers may follow their inspector’s lead and choose a property with better plumbing.

Regardless of the pipes used, anything out of the ordinary on the pipe itself will signal issues, such as flaking, peeling, or discoloration. Reduced water pressure can also be a symptom of corroded or clogged up pipes. For a quick test, try the hot water tap, as it will be the first to show signs of failure. If you spot any of these warning signs, contact a professional plumber for an authoritative judgment on your home’s plumbing needs.

The Benefits of Copper Plumbing

If you’ve determined that your property is in need of new plumbing, the next step is to choose the proper piping. When it comes to the drinking water, homebuyers are jittery and copper pipes can be very reassuring. Unlike lead which is a known toxin, copper has recognized health benefits. And copper has withstood the test of time. For decades, copper piping has been the industry standard, and it remains so to this day. Additionally, since plumbers are used to the ease and simplicity of installing copper pipes, repiping with copper often goes more smoothly than repiping with alternate materials.

Copper piping offer a number of additional crucial benefits:

  • Copper naturally resists the growth of bacteria on the inner lining of the pipe, which reduces the probability of clogs. Additionally, it resists corrosion well—much better than galvanized pipes.
  • Seismic events don’t affect copper piping as easily as other, stiffer materials. Copper, though structurally sound, has some flex and give to the material, reducing the chance of breaks caused by earthquakes.
  • As an added bonus, using L-sized copper plumbing for your bathroom showers and toilets will even reduce the noise level of water draining through the house.

Copper Piping vs PEX

You might be thinking, “Hey, what about the PEX piping I’ve been hearing about?” PEX piping has indeed been heralded by some as the new wave of plumbing due to its relatively cheap cost and the flexibility of its pipes, which function more like hoses than pipes. However, because the PEX plumbing method is relatively new, there’s no authoritative word out on how safe it is to use. Some fear plastic chemicals leaching into drinking water, and no one wants to repeat the mistake made with lead pipes. Additionally, PEX is more susceptible to rodent damage than copper piping. So while the jury is still out on PEX (some love it, some mistrust it), copper remains the trusted industry standard of time-tested quality.

Socotra Capital Helps You Get the Job Done

As mentioned earlier, repiping can cost a sizeable chunk of cash – anywhere around the $5,000 to $8,000 range. But you don’t have to sweat the possibility of new plumbing for your potential fix-and-flip property. Socotra Capital offers fast and professional loans for real estate investors who want to turn a dull property into a diamond prospect for home buyers.

Whatever your remodeling needs, a loan from Socotra Capital gives you the best of both worlds—speed and industry knowledge. Not only do traditional banks often require a pristine credit report, they also move far more slowly than a specialized lender like Socotra Capital. We know that you need to act quickly when you spot an opportunity that requires immediate cash, so we provide a quick turnaround time. And since we know the real estate industry, our decisions are based on the quality of your project, not on your credit history. With Socotra Capital on your side, that plumbing project no longer has to feel so daunting.

Your real estate assets are your best investments for the future. At Socotra Capital, we’re proud to be the premier direct hard money lender for California real estate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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