After finding only one fire sprinkler
vendor on Craigslist, I resorted to
the yellow pages(!). I came up with
a list of a half-dozen in Marin, and
contacted them. In addition, Chris
Clark, my framer, provided the name
of the guy who did his house.
As stated above, Marin County requires them on any "substantial remodel." Another sheet defines substantial as 50+%. Since the foundation work is already impacting a third of the house, I know that I will quickly be over 50%. My natural tendency is to try to limit myself to 49%, and avoid this expensive requirement, but there's a real cost to having electricians, framers, sheetrockers, etc come out 12 months later just to stay below 50%.
The guy from Craigslist estimated that it would cost $4,500. Wow. That's low. At least compared to what I was imaging. So this made it easier to accept the requirement that I get sprinklered.
There's a proper order to installing services. It's a lot easier to work electrical around existing sprinklers, rather than work sprinklers around existing electrical. On a major remodel, where everything's been torn out, consider putting in ductwork first, then plumbing (including sprinklers), then electrical, including light cans.
The sprinkler vendor will need to know certain things about your existing water service in order to provide a total cost for the job. Unfortunately, the cost of upgrading your water service so that he/she has enough water pressure to work with may cost more than your sprinkler system!
Pressure at meter. This was in my home inspection report, and available via a quick phone call to my water utility. The pressure at my meter is 110psi. (My inspection report warned me about this high pressure and I spent a few hundred dollars having a pressure reduction valve installed! Oh well...)
of piping to your house.
When the parking space was expanded,
the 5/8" iron piping was in the
way, and so replaced by 1" soft
copper. Turns out that what was a
wise upgrade, since the sprinkler
service requires that. Unfortunately
my house connection point is 25' above
the street-side meter, and that complicates
Location of house in relation to meter. It's all about water pressure. I may have a lot of pressure at the meter, but the pressure calculations will include where the house is in relationship to the meter, and the height of the house itself. My house connection point is 25 feet above the street-side meter, and I have a two-story home.
Size of water meter, and size of connection from the utility's main to your meter. This information is also available via a quick phone call to the local water utility. I learned that my meter is 5/8" and that the connection to my meter is 3/4". I've been given inconsistent information from sprinkler vendors re what size the meter will need to be (It's either 3/4" or 1"), and what size the connection to the meter will need to be (either 3/4" or 1"). This is where it can get expensive. Here in Mill Valley, the cost of upgrading to a 3/4" meter is a one-time charge of $179 and a monthly increase of $0.92. If a 1" meter is needed, I'm not sure what the one-time upgrade charge is, but my monthly bill increases by $4.58. But if I need to have the utility upgrade the main-to-my-meter connection from the current 3/4" to 1", I will be billed $3900. Ouch!
Automatic Fire Safety (415-898-4448) I spoke with Miles. He wanted floor plans and site map. I didn't have everything at first, but did eventually email what was requested. I followed up, but have no record of hearing back from him.
Baswell Plumbing (415-897-7977) I was told that Jeff would get back to me. Never heard from him.
Dreier Fire Protection (415-883-1359) I got a machine the first time, then spoke with Heather, who explained that Theo was the expert, and that he would get back to me. Theo and I spoke, but he never made it out here.
Serano's Fire Protection (707-789-9940) Mario Serrano wins points for being the most responsive. He came out, and really seemed to know his stuff.