Our biggest challenge to date has been squaring historic preservation guidelines with the state’s contemporary building codes. As a result, much of the restoration plan we wrote when we applied for the house in April 2010 is moot in light of what we’ve learned from our MA-licensed plumber.
For instance, we planned our master bath restoration around the existing antique porcelain fixtures, including a pretty but battered old pedestal tub. We fully intended to salvage them until we learned that every item failed to meet current codes. The tub had eroded enamel and an outdated lead drain; the sink spigots ran hot and cold water separately, with no mixing device to create warm water; and the dinky toilet required 4 or 5 gallons per flush.
To fix the tub alone, we’d have to replace the lead plumbing, find faucetry that both fit the old openings and met modern code, and then ship it out for re-enameling—a $600 job, not including the $400 roundtrip for shipping. While I'm complaining I'll also mention that the tub was small.
The math left us no choice but to purchase the tub of our dreams for less than twice the price of restoring the original: this Recor six-foot pedestal tub with side-mounted faucetry. We bought it today from F.W. Webb in Gloucester (http://www.fwwebb.com), along with Toto’s Clayton pedestal sink and energy-efficient 1.28 gpf (gallons per flush) toilet (www.totousa.com). Alas, we don’t have room for the bidet, but we're investigating washlets for when we’re more, um, flush.