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Modern & Affordable Plumbing Fixtures for 100K House Project

by Chad Ludeman on November 12, 2008 · 24 comments

in bath,Design,finishes

We have been talking about plumbing fixtures with the team for some time, but I finally got the time to post model numbers and images of what we’ve come up with so far. Orders have not been placed yet, so some may change, but for now we are looking at the set below:

Modern & Affordable Kitchen Plumbing Fixtures

Kitchen Sink

Ebay SS Square Undermount Sink [$275] SS Square Undermount Sink Image

This sink is our only ebay purchase in the plumbing list. It’s tempting to buy more from ebay, but in keeping with our case study, we are trying to stick to off the shelf items that anyone could purchase. We felt confident going to ebay for the kitchen sink as there always seem to be an abundance of quality, modern kitchen sinks for an affordable price on the ebay. While you may not be able to find the same one you did 12 months ago, there always seem to be suitable replacements at any time. This particular sink is perfect for our homes and would easily cost 2-3 times as much at retail from a brand name supplier. Notice I am not linking to the exact item. Please don’t buy all the stock before we can place our order. Thanks.

IKEA Kitchen Faucet

ALSVIK Single Lever Faucet w/ Extendable Spout [$159]Alsvik single lever faucet image

We are down to the following two choices for the kitchen faucet. Both are from IKEA. This is the wife’s favorite option as it has an extendable spout that makes cleaning large pans and the sink in general much easier. Nobody seems to like the more industrial HJUVIK which we currently have in our flat and I prefer. It’s a bit pricier at $250 and I understand the desire to have something a bit sleeker, so I will concede.

HOVSKAR Single Lever Kitchen Faucet [$100]HOVSKAR single lever ikea kitchen sink

This faucet almost looks identical to a high-end brand name faucet that we put in a previous rehab in the neighborhood. The difference is this one is a fraction of the price from IKEA. I prefer the design of this faucet but feel like functionality of an extenable spray attachment may win this battle. This one almost looks like it wants to have an extendable head on it, but alas, it does not.

Modern & Affordable Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures

Bathroom Sink

Duravit Vero #070445 [$277] Duravit Vero bathroom sink basin image

This sink isn’t the cheapest option out there, but the beauty of it is that it stands alone. The sink comes with a wall mount and also accepts a faucet, so there will be no additional costs associated with a vanity. We are leaning towards leaving the space below the sink open and clean. This will allow the owner to install their own storage system or leave it open if desired. We’ll get into more bathroom details on a later post, but we also plan to have a recessed vanity above the sink that will be flush with the wall while allowing for additional storage.

Low-Flow Bathroom Faucet

Grohe Concetto Lavatory Faucet [$120]

We have chosen the low flow version of this Grohe bathroom faucet that is rated at 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute). This faucet gets us both style and LEED points at an affordable price. Since the faucet meets both the US EPA WaterSense specifications and has a flow rate of only 1.5 gpm, it makes us eligible for 2 LEED points for achieving “very high water efficiency” on our checklist. This is an easy extra point tha will not cost us any premium over a standard faucet.

Dual Flush Toilet

Kohler K-3654 Persuade [$250]Kohler Persuade dual flush toilet

This two-piece toilet has a sleek, European feel to it. We were all very impressed with the price as well. Who says low-flow plumbing fixtures have to cost a premium. Bravo Kohler. Bravo.

This guy also qualifies us for the maximum 2 points in the water efficient commode category. The single flush is rated at 0.8 gallons while the double flush will result in 1.6 gallons of water efficiently dispelling of your dirty work. Average this together, taking into account that single flushes occur more than twice as often and double flushes and we reach the 1.1 gpf average needed for 2 LEED points.


Kohler Archer 5′ Bath K-1123 [$326] Modern Affordable Kohler Archer Bathtub Image

Affordable and modern bathtubs are tough to find. There are many designer tubs that look amazing but cost a fortune. After that comes a whole bunch of plain old ugly bathtubs that have a reasonable price tag. We struggled with this item for a while and ultimately had to bring in “the Money” to solve our dilemma. She quickly found a very suitable option from Kohler for less than $400 that had the squareness we were looking for. This tub is a drop-in so we will need to build a frame for it, but in the orientation we have the tub placed in the bathroom, this was inevitable. We are looking into the possibility of using plywood for the exterior finish of the frame with an industrial waterproof coating to tie into the theme of the second floor. Note that the tub is shown in gray simply so it will show up in the image better. The final tub will be white to match the toilet and sink.

Bathtub Filler

Kohler Stillness Bath Faucet K-T954-4 [$333] Kohler Stillness bath faucet image

I wish that IKEA would make bathtub hardware. They don’t so we have tried to spec out a reasonable option from Kohler’s Stillness line of fixtures. In the end we will spend more on the tub filler than the tub itself but this is also a key part that we do not want to malfunction. Skimping on this could mean a painful repair bill down the road from replacing a hard to reach component. ISA found a really cool bath filler (I forget what exactly) that had the handles mounted on the wall and a simple framed hole mounted in the ceiling above the tub where the water would fall from. This was really tempting, but the extra plumbing required didn’t jive with our budget. We are hopeful to get this into a future project though.

Shower Head

Jet-Stream Economy 1.5-gpm Showerhead [$40] Jet-Stream low flow showerhead image

As far as the low-flow fixtures go in a LEED house, the shower head is by far  the most important. There are a lot of poor options out there that will leave you dissatisfied in your once pleasant morning cleansing ritual. If the right shower head is not spec’ed, the homeowner is likely to replace with a standard flow shower head which will defeat the whole purpose of trying to save water in this area of the home. Either that or they will curse your name daily as they take showers double the length they once knew and now only dream about.

Anyways, we did our research and Jet-Stream apparently makes a low-flow shower head that actually works. The simple design and budget price work perfectly in our homes as well. The 1.5 gpm flow rate once again qualifies us for the max 2 points in the water efficient shower head category. There is a 3 for the price of 2 deal on all shower heads on their site, so someone on the team will be testing one out shortly as well. These guys also sell $6 aerators that can turn any faucet into a 0.5 gpm faucet that will save 75% more water than traditional faucets.

Shower Valve & Trim

Kohler Stillness Rite-Temp K-T950-4 [$146] Kohler Stillness Rite-Temp Shower Trim Image

Not a whole lot to describe here. This lever will match the Stillness fixture on the bathtub next to our shower area. We would love to have matched these both with the sink faucet, but the matching Stillness faucets are prohibitively expensive.

Well, we hope you like our choices. If not, feel free to voice your opinions and suggestions in the comments below. This is also a key area where upgrades will be offered in the future for those that want to splurge on fancy fixtures.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Price Reduced Bath Plumbing Fixtures in 100K House - Delta Arzo | 100K House Blog
November 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm
A Better Low-Flow Showerhead? — 100K House Blog
November 23, 2010 at 11:02 am
Grohe plumbing fixture
December 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon November 12, 2008 at 10:55 am

We have the same Kohler toilet (w/a slightly different tank shape), and I wish I could recommend it unequivocally. I’ll try to be discreet here, but basically, the pool of water sits a bit too far forward in the bowl. As a result, cleaning the toilet has become a much more frequent occurrence. It’s a shame, really, because the flush is more than adequate, even when using the 0.8 gpm button.

2 chad November 12, 2008 at 11:16 am

Brandon – Thanks for the tip. We’ll take this into consideration.

Anyone out there with a glowing review of another modern, dual-flush toilet?

3 Minerva November 12, 2008 at 11:43 am

I would be interested to hear more about the Jet-Stream products. I hadn’t heard of them before, and being in the middle of a bathroom remodel myself I’ve been looking for low flow fixtures.

4 chad November 12, 2008 at 11:46 am
5 Todd Lynch November 12, 2008 at 2:05 pm

That sink looks really small, it is hard to tell by a photo and dimensions 450 x 350 mm alone, but it looks more like a hand sink than a bathroom sink.

There is nothing more frustrating than washing your face at a tiny sink with water going everywhere.

6 darin November 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm


We’ve had good luck with the Toto Aquia.

The Grohe Essence line is also nice for faucets…they are affordable, minimal and efficient.

7 chad November 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Todd – I would agree with you on the sink. At only 18″ wide it may be a bit small. We’ll see if we can fit a slightly larger model there. They have plenty of options and sizes in this line…

Darin – I like both the Toto and Essence recommendations. We are currently looking to see if we can go with a full line in the entire bath that is a bit more economical than the Kohler Stillness. We could then offer the full stillness line as an upgrade in future homes and hopefully in the 120K also.

We also like the Delta Arzo line as well for an economical base option.

8 David November 12, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Chad, the progress looks great – so glad to see this project moving forward!
i would very much advise against the square sink, purely on a useability point – we’ve used them in houses before and our clients find they are impossible to keep clean as crud gets caught in the sharp corners.
also, the allessi ‘dot’ toilet is my favourite in the world, and will use it in my house when it finally gets built!

9 cyndi November 13, 2008 at 9:27 am

I love the choices so far!

10 chad November 13, 2008 at 10:14 am

David – Thanks for the advice. We like square things so we’ll probably suck it up and clean more if necessary. We are big fans of 5 minutes of cleaning in the bathroom a day as is rather than marathon cleaning sessions less often.

I don’t think we’ll be able to afford the Alessi Dot toilet unless we scrap the rest of the bathroom altogether. I don’t thing our buyers would enjoy bathing and washing their hands in the toilet though so I’ll just have to wait for my invitation to your new house to awkwardly test out your state of the art commode.

11 Brandon November 14, 2008 at 9:35 am

Please don’t use an Ikea kitchen faucet. They all look amazing in the photos on the site and the catalog, but in person they just look and feel cheap. Photoshop does wonders for products.

You can find plenty of great looking modern faucets at that are within your price range. Actually you can find pretty much any finish material or appliance you’re looking for there. It’s luck of the draw though, sometimes there is a lot of good stuff…sometimes there is a lot of crap.

12 chad November 14, 2008 at 10:12 am

Brandon – I’m not sure I would agree on IKEA looking cheap. I’ve used a couple, including the one we have now and they all look and perform great.

I will agree that overstock has some good deals on their faucets, but it is not something we can guarantee our buyers will have available every time. In other words, we can’t consistently offer the same faucet options from Overstock in future homes.

It may be worth looking into for the first homes as it may save budget, while giving a more upscale look though. Also, if we are building homes in the future and not offering options, but picking everything ourselves, it would be useful as well. In general though, we are leaning towards standardizing everything in order to streamline our process. Paying a couple hundred extra on off the shelf plumbing fixtures for each house is nothing compared to the hours we and our architects would spend digging up deals on each and every house we built…

Your idea is solid, I’m just trying to give the long-term business perspective that we are trying to take. When I rehabbed my own homes in the past I got everything off of ebay and Overstock type sites.

13 Susan November 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Hi Chad,

I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been doing some reading on the Kohler Persuade and that it sounds like it is a difficult toilet to install (read: higher bill from the plumber). I’ve also read some less than stellar reviews of Kohler toilets in general. We were about to purchase the Persuade but then read comments on Terry Love’s toilet website (great resource, by the way).
A lot of folks on that website (including Terry) have rave reviews for the Toto Drake. The Eco-Drake (1.28 gpf) is available on for around $220. With the matching toilet seat, it comes to right at $250. is offering a free shipping promotion now, too. Anyway, just wanted to share the information we found about the Persuade with you and also let you know about the comparably priced (but seemingly better reviewed) Toto Eco-Drake.

And thanks, as always, for the great posts and the great ideas. We’ve learned so much from your blog!


14 chad November 28, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Susan – Thanks for the info. After your input and that of others commenting on this post, I think we will be looking into the Toto options. I really like the look of the Kohler model much better than any of the Toto options, but performance is ultimately much more important than something that just looks pretty.

It seems the one-piece is the way to go as far as ease and cost of installation. Not sure which model I like best yet though in terms of aesthetics.

15 JB December 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I’m curious to know wyour source for the duravit sink. I can’t find a price that good… and it is $395 list price.

Also, be aware that if you want the fancy p-trap shown in the duravit catalogs, it will cost you an extra $200 or so.

16 chad December 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm

JB – A licensed plumber will get up to a 60% discount on list prices which is where our pricing is coming from. I think we had a quote of $95 or so for the fancy p-trap.

17 ModFruGal April 8, 2009 at 8:46 am

Did you go with the Toto in the end? I couldn’t find the final answer on your blog so apologies if I missed it. I’m am currently trying to decide between modern dual flushes myself and am interested to know your final choice. I am leaning toward the Aquia.

18 chad April 8, 2009 at 9:43 am

ModFruGal (nice name BTW) – We ended up going with the original Kohler commode spec’ed by ISA. It’s pretty and we’ll find out soon enough if it works properly…

19 Joe July 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

How’s your experience with the Kohler Persuade? I’ve heard nothing good about them from either plumbers or people that had them installed, but it’s significantly cheaper than the Toto Aquia, so I’m curious about your experience, particularly since you seemed to have weighed the same options I currently am. I prefer the looks of the Aquia too and think the Kohler looks oddly upright, but that’s just a personal choice. Thanks in advance.

20 caft February 15, 2010 at 1:19 am

Any recommendations for a cost effective condensing dryer?



21 Dave November 20, 2012 at 7:29 am

Yes I would agree with a lot of the Ikea products and also they have a very strange waste connection in the UK, not sure you if you get the same one in the States ?!?

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