A 5,000-square-foot living area that’s mostly post and beam without many interior walls poses a challenge in hiding the pipes. Modern Plumbing and Heating in New Canaan, Connecticut, took on the big challenge when they worked on a new-build barn for a previous client. And 180 pages of plans later, the project came together without a hitch.
The floor of the barn, as the homeowners affectionately refer to the building, is nearly all steel and concrete, and contractor Joe Keegan said it was a “cool project, just tough. Everything there was tough because there was steel everywhere!”
Keegan said he knows and understands the trend of homeowners maximizing open spaces, but for a contractor it means there are less places to hide pipes and other elements integral to the comfort and usability of the home.
For years, the homeowners had talked about remodeling a barn that was on the property. When a tremendous snow load caused it to collapse, it was an open door to completely start over and do whatever they could imagine. Keegan’s company had helped the property owners on their home, so calling in Modern Plumbing and Heating to work on the barn certainly made sense.
“They were always planning on turning the barn into a living space, so when it collapsed, they could start fresh,” Keegan said. “It’s huge and open, a lot of steel and glass but it’s very efficient. It’s a gathering place that’s modern and cool.”
The entire 5,000-square-foot structure is warmed with radiant heat, thanks to Viega, and the barn is equipped with ProPress Copper and MegaPressG. Viega ball valves were also installed. Keegan said he wanted to have “every part of the Viega system, not other pieces.”
Keegan said because the barn is so open, and has so much glass, from a comfort standpoint he believed radiant heating was the only option.
A lot went into the project. Keegan said plans were in the works for more than two years before a shovel went into the ground. Because there was so much time invested in the design of things, the actual build and installation went very smoothly.
“Every single pipe in every direction had to be accounted for. There was no place to hide anything,” Keegan said. “It was so precise; there was a lot of time on the prep side.”
The decision to use Viega was all up to Modern Plumbing. The homeowners left the decisions to Keegan’s expertise. And for Keegan, there was nothing to consider.
“We really only use Viega. If we’re going to do radiant especially, everything we do is Viega,” Keegan said. “We’re big fans of copper, and even for heat lines we like copper, so it’s all ProPress.
“We’ve been doing radiant heat from the earliest days. We used ProPress about 13 years ago, and it was actually a Viega Voice article that sold it for me,” Keegan said. “There were a bunch of gas manifolds at a strip mall as far as the eye could see in one picture, and I thought, ‘If this mechanical company can invest in Viega and they’re not afraid, how much longer are we going to wait?’ Our first ProPress job was so fast that all of us just laughed at how fast we could do it. We never thought about looking back.”
From there, Keegan said he jumped on MegaPress when it entered the market, knowing the success he’d had with ProPress. He loves that Modern Plumbing and Heating can compete with larger companies that might have more manpower, because he can save so much on labor with just a single ProPress tool.
He said he remembers years ago, a few months after he started pressing with Viega, his young children asking him if he still worked. Puzzled, he asked for an explanation. They said he didn’t “smell like work” anymore, which had spurred their questions.
“Smelling like work was flux and solder and smoke from soldering,” he said. “I think from a health standpoint, I can’t imagine why anybody would still be soldering. The health benefits we must be reaping from using ProPress! I remember going on vacation, and for days after you stopped working you’d have grease in your skin, coming out of your fingers.”
Health benefits aside, Keegan also loves the slick look of a Viega system, and said he’s happy to offer such a top-of-the-line system to his customers.
“This was a high-end customer, and they were very particular about what they wanted. So they chose a craftsman – that was us – and we chose Viega. We’re a fit for one another,” Keegan said.
“Viega is, to me, a company for craftsmen and people who really take pride in what they do. Do we save labor? Of course. And the products allow us to do jobs we wouldn’t otherwise look at. But it’s about quality, which is why Viega is such a good fit for us.”