Fire Sprinklers

5 Replies

Hello people,

I just bought a property that I am going to turn into a sports bar. It is 9000 sf, was a restaurant before, been vacant for 5 years and needs some rehab sweat equity. When I was buying the building the listing agent said it will probably need fire sprinklers and that should cost 2.50 to 4.00 psf. I was not happy with that but I figured ok I'm buying the building right so 40k for sprinklers is not that big of a deal. Well we started getting bids and lots or companies were too busy but the first one came in at 200k!!!??? the next was 165K... I am in Washington state and I am considering finding contractors from Alaska because it seems the ppl around here are fat cats can name any price. Making the city change their mind or finding a loophole is not an option, I spent 3 months trying to figure that out and many meetings with the fire marshal. I have looked at many options including doing it myself and using blazemaster cpvc pipe which would be great if you didn't have to cover it up with drywall etc.... I am at wits end and need to find some ways to cut some costs or find a reasonable contractor.  

@Doug DeMulling - yes those prices are very high. $50,000 tops

Also do not do this yourself. While installing cpvc pipe above a ceiling would appear simple, it's not as if you use too much glue it can cause major problems. Also why would you want that liability as god forbid there was a fire and sprinkler didn't work you would most likely have criminal and civil charges against you (note I am not a lawyer)

Doug I have seen it in construction where sometimes developers will bring in crews say from Louisiana to work in Texas because the crew in Texas want a mint and have too much work going on etc.

Even with travel costs they sometimes come out ahead. 

Thanks guys, yea I don't want to install the system myself, but the fire marshal says it is an option if we take a class and have a VERY good sprinkler design that we would follow, he is also darn near trained enough to be a contractor so he would be very involved for all of our sakes. Here are some of the ways I have found to cut the costs, maybe if someone else is in the same position these ideas might help

Part of the bid was putting a dry system under the building (about 2500 sf exposed because it is built on a slope) the cost was 35k for a dry system but the city will allow us to install a fire barrier which I thought would be hardi board ($32 a sheet), but they recommended a fire rated exterior drywall that is $17 a sheet. So that is going to shave about 30k off the bid.

For running the larger pipe from the main we found that it is allowed to tie into the fire hydrant so we just have to tear up about 15 yards of parking lot instead of 40. Like I said in my original post this is the killer 70k and 50k respectively to just do this part. Also we are going to do the dirt work and find a commercial plumber to run the line and install the water box I think it is called. I am not sure how much of a savings but its gotta cut the amount in half at least.

We want to have exposed ceilings in the building, right now there is drywall and popcorn ceilings but underneath is some pretty cool wood. This makes installation way easier cause they don't have to mess with cutting holes and running pipe around the drywall. Unfortunately in our case we asked the bid to include just flush mount sprinklers so I'm not sure if it is going to save much. Although my electricians bill will be cut in half to run the new lighting.

The building is 2 stories, we want to get open asap and the main floor is 4500 sf which is plenty of room to get started. The fire marshal is going to allow us to just sprinkler the main floor for now as long as we do not use the top floor for anything. We will have 1 yr from occupancy to start installing the top floor sprinklers but its 30k we don't need to take out of our pocket for now.

The sprinkler design is 7500??? hell no... going to work on getting that price down next.

Working on getting bids from other contractors

That's about all I have for now. Thanks

@Doug DeMulling Here in Texas you have to be licensed to do not only the design but the installation as well. I would think that in Washington it would be very strict. Have you asked the subs what it is making it so costly?

@Doug DeMulling

Have you considered hiring a fire protection engineer or an architect to help you?  They can assist you with to the code as its complicated.  Don't piss off the Code Official, but it sounds like he is working with you.  A system should be under $5 per sf.  For $200k it better be gold plated!  Do not install the sprinkler system your self.  You become liable for the life of the building which will out live you.  Not a liability risk worth taking.  Typically the design needs to be designed my a licensed engineer.  Sprinkler companies will design and install them for you.  The $7500 is reasonable as this probably bills out at $110 to $140 an hour to a client which is a good weeks worth of work.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here