A beautiful kitchen or a luxurious custom bathroom, from start to finish, is about more than just the plumber alone. At Kegonsa Plumbing, we not only act as plumbers, but also as general contractors. By building relationships with only the best in the business, we can source countertops, appliances, and cabinetry needed for custom remodels and new construction. This month, we’ve listed our top plumbing, carpentry, water heater, and countertop partners, so you can be more informed of our process and who we work with during your kitchen and/or bathroom remodel.
Kohler is a global leader in kitchen and bath design. Even better, they’re from northeast Wisconsin! If a customer doesn’t have a strong preference regarding the supplier of their kitchen and bath products, we’ll always recommend Kohler first. The quality of their contractor-grade appliances are second-to-none, and their warranties ensure a happy customer every time.
The design and technology elements in Kohler bath and kitchen elements are cutting-edge, including smart sensors (such as anti-scalding thermometer settings) and Bluetooth enabled showers and baths.
Moen’s products are warrantied against leaks, drips, and finish defects for life. They’re also one of the oldest brands around.
Over the course of his 45-year career, Al Moen finalized over 75 patents for inventions and innovations in the plumbing industry. His earliest patent was the first single-handed faucet in 1939. His work revolutionized the plumbing product industry, and the Moen Company continues to deliver new and innovative products in Al’s memory.
Menominee Tribal Enterprises boasts over 150 years of sustainable forestry. This community in Neopit, Wisconsin, supplies native northern hardwoods from the world-renowned Menominee Forest. The team has mastered the art of steadily supplying the best quality lumber while
maintaining a healthy forest environment. As an MTE dealer for both moulding and cabinetry, Kegonsa Plumbing can help you choose the best lumber and stain for your project — MTE supplies a dozen different Wisconsin woods!
All cabinetry from MTE is built custom to order. Their carpentry skills match the high quality of their lumber, ensuring beautiful Wisconsin wood cabinets that fit your kitchen or bathroom perfectly.
Legacy Presidential is based out of Eastaboga, Alamaba, and was founded in 1994. They believe in value with a personal touch: a quality cabinet product at an affordable price. All of Legacy’s cabinets come with a five-year limited warranty.
With over 14 color options and a variety of customizations possible, we’re impressed with the quality of these cabinets at their competitive price.
Water Heaters Partner
When it comes to water heaters, we’re confident in our choice to exclusively use Bradford White. Founded over 135 years ago, Bradford White’s mission is to deliver superior products made by American craftspeople. All manufacturing facilities and company ownership is based in the United States only. Their tank and tankless water heaters work hard for your home and outlast most of the products we see in this market.
High quality stone countertops like marble or quartz have always been associated with luxury, and therefore, with high costs. We partnered with Carstin Brands because they consistently provide high quality at a very affordable price. Carstin will deliver products on time and complete within two weeks, and they strive to exceed all of our expectations. If you’re looking to source marble, quartz, granite, or an engineered solid surface that looks similar to stone, Carstin is our recommended partner.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the partners we trust with your custom remodels or new construction, they are some of the best in their industries! If you have questions about a project or one of our home improvement partners, give us a call or send us a message today.
Many homeowners know that remodeling a kitchen or a bathroom can increase the overall value of your home, yielding a respectable return on investment should you choose to sell. However, there are other ways that you can save money by upgrading too. Energy efficient plumbing can quickly pay for themselves long term through saved utility bills.
Dual flush toilet
Upgrading to a toilet that uses less water per flush is one of the best ways you can decrease your utility bill. Toilets are the biggest culprit of water waste, using about 30% of a household’s total water consumption. If your toilet was made before 1992, it’s likely that it uses at least 3 gallons per flush. Following the 1992 federal restrictions, most toilets made after that year use 1.6 gallons for each flush.
The latest and greatest development in energy-efficient toilets involves dual flush water saving methods, meaning there are two buttons: a 0.8 gallon flush and a 1.28 gallon flush. That way, you only use as little water as you need.
If you suspect your toilet is leaking or running constantly, that’s another indicator that you need to upgrade your porcelain throne. If you add some food dye to the bowl and it lightens or clears after some time, that’s a strong sign your toilet is constantly running water through it when it’s not in use.
Low Flow Fixtures
Investing in low-flow faucets and shower heads will naturally decrease the amount of water you use without any other lifestyle changes. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice that magical water pressure in order to get a more energy-efficient shower head. Before 1990, the flow rate of a shower head was around three to four gallons per minute, but technological advancements and great design allows manufacturers to keep the water pressure high while lowering the water flow to as low as one gallon per minute.
If you can’t afford to install new water fixtures, adding a faucet aerator over the sink spout can reduce water use while keeping water pressure high. Basically, an aerator is a screen that adds air to the flow. If added to the faucets throughout your home, this simple and affordable piece can save you a significant amount on your monthly utility bills.
Switch to a Tankless Water Heater
As we’ve mentioned before, a tankless water heater is much better for your energy bill than a tank. (We’ve done the math, and tankless will usually pay for itself in energy savings). A tanked water heater will radiate heat, and energy is used to constantly keep the water warm. With a tankless water heater, hot water is still on demand, but you aren’t keeping water constantly warm. In general, if you want plumbing upgrades that keep energy costs low,
If you can’t afford to upgrade your water heater, there are a couple quick solutions to reduce your energy usage slightly. Start by setting the water temperature lower by a few degrees, so your water heater isn’t working harder than necessary. You’ll need to experiment with this, as you’ll need water hot enough to clean dishes and clothing, but this can ultimately save you money as water can be stored at a lower temperature. Additionally, you can buy insulation to wrap around your water heater, so less heat escapes and less energy is used to maintain the temperature.
Do you have questions about upgrading your plumbing appliances? If you’re ready for home improvement and would like to schedule a free in-home consult, and receive a customized quote, get in touch with us today.
Your guide to investing in quality products
This month, we’re focusing on a topic we’ve received some questions about in the last several weeks: purchasing faucets and other plumbing appliances. It’s true, you can find the same faucet, by the same manufacturer, at two different price points. Why is that so?
We’ll help you understand the differences between the two products and why it’s important to invest in products that last (or are at least backed by warranties), below.
You may have noticed plumbing fixtures at home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes that seem much more inexpensive compared to the products we source for you. This is for good reason! There is a huge difference between a store bought faucet and a faucet ordered from a builder grade supply house. Even if the product has the same name, same brand, and same appearance, the price and quality are astronomically different. This is because manufacturers create two different versions of a product: a contractor-grade product and a retail-grade product. Big-box stores will generally order large quantities of fixtures in bulk that are made with lesser-quality elements in order to keep the price per unit low.
Contractor-grade products, especially the ones we use at Kegonsa Plumbing, are backed by strong product warranties in case anything goes wrong. They’re also made with better and more reliable materials, like stainless steel and brass, while the same retail-grade product typically uses plastic for the mechanical pieces. This means retail-grade products wear out more quickly, and will require maintenance much sooner than a contractor-grade product.
Pro tip: If you ever see a fixture that looks identical to another but is different in price, always check the model number or part number. The numbers will be similar, but will vary slightly. Even within retail fixtures, some manufacturers create an A-grade and B-grade model with differences in price and quality.
When we install a product from one of our suppliers, we stand by its good quality. Using fixtures from contractor-grade suppliers that we’ve already vetted means that installation is done right, and that we’re available for repairs if anything goes wrong. If a client hires us to install a fixture that was purchased elsewhere, the responsibility falls to the client if things go wrong. The fixture would need to be taken out, returned to the retail store, and a replacement would need to be installed.
If you’re considering a bathroom remodel, new kitchen faucet, or other fixture, send us a message. Our team has decades of combined experience, so you can rest easy knowing we only recommend and supply contractor-grade, warranty-backed products for your home.
Aging in place is when a retiree makes a decision to stay in their home as they age for as long as possible. Many families have found “aging in place” as a more affordable way to retire, versus relocating to a senior living community. Some choose to remodel parts of their home specifically for their needs as they age, but if you’re over 45 or planning to retire in your current home, aging in place elements can be incorporated into any of your future remodeling projects. If you’re remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, or adding new construction to your home, incorporating safety elements now will save you money and time when you’d rather be enjoying retirement.
If you’re over 45 and planning to live in your home during retirement, take that into consideration during future remodeling projects. There are a variety of tweaks you can make to your house now to improve your quality of life down the road.
When you plan a remodel, consider the three most common changes that happen as we age:
- Loss of vision
- Decreased mobility
- Increased risk of falling
If you’re finishing your basement this year, for example, have the electrician wire the bathroom for more lighting than you think you’ll need. As loss of vision is one of the first signs of aging, 60-year-old you will thank you for the extra lighting.
Most often, aging in place modifications are added to homes reactively. For example, if you fall in the shower, your family reacts by putting a grab bar by the shower entrance to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is reactive, not preventative. This doesn’t set you up for a comfortable and independent retirement experience, it only limits repeat accidents.
There are dozens of ways to modify your home for aging in place, from anti-scald faucets to walk-in bathtubs, but our research shows that there are three things important enough to warrant their own remodeling job:
- A 60-inch turn around radius in tight rooms, especially bathrooms: Rooms need to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair – you may find yourself using one rather suddenly after an accident. If your bathroom isn’t large enough for this, you may not be able to use it without assistance. Therefore, this sizing problem in tight rooms is important enough to warrant its own update.
- Hallways and doorways are all at least 36 inches wide – If you fall and come home in a wheelchair, many parts of your home may be inaccessible with a wheelchair. Older homes especially, have smaller hallways and doorways than you think. These spacing issues become a real problem quickly, and are only fixable with an extensive remodeling job.
- Have all the main living spaces on one floor: As mobility becomes more of a struggle, you may reach an age where stairs are a fall hazard. Having all your critical living spaces (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom) on one floor decreases the risk of falls considerably. Additionally, your laundry washer and dryer should be on the main floor, as carrying large baskets down the stairs presents a major fall risk.
These three modifications will take time, and may make some areas of your home unusable during construction, so we strongly recommend implementing these when you have some flexibility. From there, you can look at non-slip flooring, walk-in bathtubs, lowered countertops for easier access from a wheelchair, and even thermo balanced, anti-scald faucets for your bath and shower. There are dozens of small plumbing modifications that are quick to install that will maximize your ability to live independently as you age. We recommend researching more about design for aging in place in order to figure out which are most beneficial for your needs.
Looking for guidance on a future remodel project? Reach out to us! We can offer as much (or as little) advice as you’d like throughout the process.
The reality is, a water heater is a commodity appliance. It’s not as exciting as a spacious shower with a rain head or a whirlpool tub with jets. Few enjoy the purchasing process, sure, but for the sake of hot showers and clean laundry, you need to have one. If all goes as planned, any water heater you purchase will live in your home for at least a decade, so it’s worth considering which type is best before you budget and plan. There are two types, powered two ways, each with its respective pros and cons. All water heaters are either tank or tankless models, powered by either natural gas or electricity. When deciding which type of water heater is best for your needs, consider the costs, energy efficiency (and the corresponding power bills you’ll pay), and longevity.
Traditional Water Heaters
A traditional (tank) water heater preheats between 30 to 50 gallons of water in a storage tank, and pipes send hot water across the house for use, from laundry to a dishwasher to a shower. They use either natural gas or electricity as heating sources. In such tank-style models, natural gas uses less energy than electric by at least 10%, reducing your power bills. As a result, the natural gas models tend to be more expensive. A tank-style water heater will perform well for 10 to 15 years before you’ll need a replacement.
Traditional tank water heaters are less expensive than tankless models and are cheaper to install. This makes maintenance simpler and cheaper, too. However, if your 30 to 50 gallon tank malfunctions, you run the risk of a basement flood. The large tank also means that the appliance will take up a large space in your basement, which isn’t ideal in small homes. Traditional tank water heaters use more energy to keep a large tank of water hot, at your specified temperature. They’ll work harder if they’re in a cold location and during the winter months, too.
Traditional Water Heater Pros and Cons
- Lower initial cost
- They’re simpler, so easier to install, maintain and repair
- Higher utility bills
- Shorter life, must be replaced more often
- They occupy a larger space, and must be located inside the home
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters will heat water on demand, so there’s no storage tank component. The tankless heater can even be installed outside, or on a wall. Typically, a tankless water heater will last 20+ years, and are also known to be much more energy efficient. The actual dollar amount saved will fluctuate, but an average household will see 25% – 30% greater energy efficiency with a tankless model than a storage tank water heater. If your household uses more than 50 gallons of hot water each day, you’ll see energy efficiency increase around 10% – 15%. On average, a gas-fired tankless water heater saves homeowners $100 per year, and electric tankless heaters save homeowners about $44 per year. So, in a 20-year lifetime, you can expect to save $2,000 in power costs by switching to a gas powered tankless water heater.
Regardless of whether you choose a storage or a tankless model, you always run the risk of running out of hot water after the fourth or fifth shower! If you want to circumvent this issue, it’s only possible with tankless water heaters. If the investment is worthwhile for your home, you can install tankless water heaters at multiple hot water outlets, so every shower or dishwasher has its own on-demand hot water. Installing on-demand water heaters at every outlet is also the most energy-efficient option, with average energy efficiency increases ranging from 25% to 50%.
Tankless Water Heater Pros and Cons
- Last 20-30 years
- Space efficient: can be installed in a very small area, or even on a wall
- Energy efficient: can save $44 – $100 per year on power bills
- The purchase price and installation costs of tankless models higher
- Like traditional water heaters, they have output limitations
With All Water Heaters:
If you live in an area with hard water, talk to a plumber about best practices for keeping your water heater healthy. Hard water can be tough on any type of water heater — gas or electric, tank or tankless, and can even shorten its lifespan. If you need a plumbing appliance installed and would like our input, give us a call and we’ll help you find the best options for your home.
Taking on plumbing projects in your home may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to. To help you on your journey to home improvement, we have pulled together three tips for you to keep in mind when updating and installing your homes plumbing. Find out what to look for, what to avoid, and what will help ensure your plumbing is done right to avoid costly mistakes and headaches down the road.
Below, we have three tips that will help ensure that your plumbing work is done right, and mistakes won’t cost you money down the road.
1. Hire a plumber that does work up to code, with permits.
Unless you’re doing the plumbing yourself, in your own single-family home, you’re required to hire a licensed plumber in the state of Wisconsin. Additionally, the penalties for plumbing without the right license can be as high as $2,000. You should verify the plumber’s license, then verify the permit for the work. A permit means that the government regulatory body knows a plumber is doing work in your home, and that record holds the plumber accountable for high quality, up-to-code work. All plumbing work in Madison requires a permit, and most cities and townships in Wisconsin are similar. If your plumber has a license and a permit for your home’s work, this a strong indicator that your new plumbing will tick all the legal boxes.
Buildings that aren’t up to code are considered unsafe or out of date and could lead you to face a lot of liability later. insurance won’t pay out for damage, any warranties on nearby appliances are voided, and you could be responsible for injuries or damage to others as a result of the faulty job. This also makes it especially difficult to rent or sell your property later.
2. Consider products with warranties.
If you invest in a top-of-the-line toilet, but it malfunctions in just a few weeks, the warranty will cover a replacement. If you don’t, you’ll pay out of pocket for damages and replacements.
All the products that Kegonsa Plumbing uses come with factory warranties. We stand by those warranties, because we’ve vetted our sources. We know that any sink, toilet, water heater or piping we bring to your home is tested and trusted. For that reason, we’re happy to replace any factory malfunctioned products. If a homeowner has already purchased a product and simply wants us to install it, we can’t stand behind any warranties. We aren’t sure where the product has been, who has handled it, or what elements the product is exposed to, and we haven’t vetted the manufacturer. As a result, when installing new plumbing or appliances, it’s best to go directly through the plumber or a trusted, warrantied source.
3. Invest in the most modern options that you can afford.
Upgrading the plumbing networks themselves in your home can be a great investment for future resale. Doing so at the same time as a remodel or new plumbing addition, is much more convenient and cost-efficient for the homeowner. Different piping materials such as copper are more expensive, but are a major plus for future homebuyers. In many cases, these investments can increase your resale value down the road. Deteriorating, leaky pipes or even hazardous lead pipes, which can still be found in old homes, could be the reason a buyer chooses a different home over yours.
Additionally, consider the most energy-efficient options within your budget. By choosing a toilet that uses only 1.28 gallons per flush instead of 5, you reduce your water usage (and water bill) significantly! Energy-efficient plumbing systems not only save you money, but add to the overall appeal of your home when it’s up for resale.
Armed with these three tips, you’ll avoid common mistakes that new homeowners encounter when they put in new plumbing for the first time. If you need a an estimate on a project, reach out to us and we’ll estimate your project for free.