Installers find design and installation benefits from PEX plumbing system for micro apartments project
The Interurban Lofts in Shoreline, Wash., just outside of Seattle, are part of a new housing trend for millennials looking for a hybrid approach to home life. These “apodments,” as they’re called, feature a unique setup of eight studio units per “pod” with a full bathroom in each unit and a shared kitchen. Each unit is partially furnished with a bed, microwave and mini-fridge.
The community atmosphere targets university students, recent graduates, young professionals and even seniors with the purpose of giving individuals more affordable housing and the opportunity to spend money on experiences, not spaces.
When planning the design for the six-story, 22,000-square-foot, 80-unit complex, the developers wanted a plumbing system that was efficient, durable and long-lasting, so they chose to go with PEX. Uponor’s design engineers and the Interurban Lofts project engineers worked in tandem to create an efficient system utilizing the flexible PEX piping along with ProPEX® expansion connections and multiport tees throughout.
The project used more than 10,000 ft. of Uponor AquaPEX® tubing to plumb the entire structure. For a few of the installers, it was their first time working with Uponor PEX. Thankfully, onsite training from the manufacturer gave them a short-lived learning curve.
“Once you’ve tried making a fitting two times, you’ve got it. It just becomes common sense,” said Roman Hudson, foreman at Wolfe Plumbing. “The Milwaukee M18™ FORCELOGIC™ ProPEX expansion tool operates the same as the smaller tool — just pull the trigger and let it go.”
The team appreciated the faster, easier installation with the Uponor PEX system, which included a lighter-weight solution compared to copper and other metallic piping.
“PEX is more forgiving and it’s lighter than copper,” said Hudson. “We used to use CPVC, stainless and copper pipes, but ProPEX fittings, man, it’s quick and fast. Once you started figuring it out, PEX is faster.”
The benefits didn’t stop there. With the design expertise from a manufacturer that’s been in the PEX industry for more than four decades, the project also reaped additional advantages beyond the installation.
“The cool thing about Uponor Design Services is, because it’s their product, they’ll push the engineering to the max,” said Bert Shepardson, commercial plumbing project manager at
Wolfe Plumbing. “That’s what allows us to use smaller pipe sizes and have more favorable installs.”