HOUSTON — A real testament to our industry was shown in late July and early August. On behalf of the Viega Corp., CONTRACTOR Magazine Publisher Dan Ashenden was invited down to Houston to participate in the one-week “Extreme Makeover – Home Edition” build of a home in Houston’s impoverished 3rd Ward.
Needless to say, conditions in Houston in July can be summed up in two words — hot and sticky! It is always amazing, though, to see how companies, groups and individual people come together for a worthy cause, no matter the conditions. We see it time and time again, whether it’s from a crisis caused by nature or the crisis of a single family — good people always rally to help out and solve a problem.
In this case, a caring family in Houston (the Johnson family) has consistently been there for their community, while faced with difficult living conditions. They were the perfect candidates for an Extreme Home Makeover.
HHN Homes was the local GC/homebuilder in Houston on the project. Linda Stewart, a principal of HHN remarked, “We are taking on this challenge for one reason ... we want to facilitate the generous Houstonians to join forces from all walks of life to change the life of one deserving family.”
Viega donated the entire potable plumbing system that included its Manabloc manifold product, similar to a fuse box for all the plumbing connections in the house. Viega had a team that included six local employees (two of whom are master plumbers) to assist in the installation of the plumbing system. Despite a major rainstorm, the Viega team was on site almost the entire time waiting for the word “go” and literally got two hours of sleep in 48. Nevertheless, they worked within the parameters and timeframe they were given and, like the rest of the teams on the site, always had a positive “get it done” attitude.
Rain was a serious impediment, stalling the foundation pour and setting the whole project back.
“We were supposed to start at 6:00 PM on Tuesday and didn’t start until 11:30 AM on Wednesday, and we did the entire water system in the house in five hours,” said Eric Lane, Viega LLC’s district manager, San Antonio, Texas. “That helped the plumber and helped us to get in and out.”
Lane got his start in plumbing in 1998 and earned his Masters license in 2004. He had a buddy who was working for Kohler who asked, “Hey, you want to start selling plumbing instead of putting it in?” Lane went to work for Kohler and came to Viega three years ago in September 2007.
Running PEX was crucial to getting the job done. The crew could press fit the joints in the rain, something they could not have done if they need to glue or solder the connections. In addition, an Extreme Makeover jobsite is crowded and chaotic, so the PEX allowed them to stay out of everyone else’s way.
“We could run individual lines through the rafters and stay out of the way of everybody else as much as possible,” Lane said. “We were up in the rafters from the top floor to the bottom floor, which was great because there’s tons of people working on the house at one time, at least 100, with the electrical, security, and HVAC guys all in there drilling holes with us being up on ladders working like a ‘chain gang’ pulling piping from the manifolds to each bathroom.”
The water supply comes in from the front right corner of the house. The Viega team ran approximately 75-ft. of 1¼ -in. PEX to the back left corner of the structure and then up to the second floor corner mechanical room. They mounted two Viega PEX Manabloc homerun manifolds caddie corner from two tankless water heaters. The supply line comes up into the bottom of the Manabloc. A cold water line runs from the top of the Manabloc to the water heater and then the hot water supply line returns to the Manabloc to feed the hot chamber of the manifold.
“We had one Manabloc servicing the master bath, the kitchen, and the hose bibs,” Lane said, “And another servicing the powder room, the utility sink and the kids’ bathrooms.”
Another industry partner, the Kohler Co., donated the plumbing fixtures and faucets. Plumber Jason Justice with Johnston Commercial Plumbing installed the Kohler products.
“For all eight seasons and over 170 projects, Kohler Co. has been a proud partner of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, providing all the kitchen and bath plumbing products,” said Todd Weber, communications director-product public relations, Kohler Co. “The show has been an incredible conduit in linking our company to some of the most amazing and deserving families whose tragedy, sacrifice and charitable goodwill are indescribable. Extreme Makeover has not only allowed our company to provide these families with bold and beautiful bathrooms and kitchens, but has also captured the hearts of our employees, who — like the rest of America — tune in each Sunday night to meet the people they have helped that week.”
In addition, Ridge Tool Co. supplied tools for the project.
The Houston Makeover show is scheduled to air on ABC television stations in late September or early October.