I'm in planning stages for a major kitchen remodel. Home built in 1984 with PEX plumbing, all electric, etc. We would like to demo the kitchen soffit (bulkhead) to make the ceiling level and install updated cabinetry. I cut a couple holes in the soffit to see what's in there. On one side there's some electrical wiring and PVC drainage pipes heading up to 2nd floor. On other side is some more PEX plumbing and an HVAC vent. I've attached some photos (but can add more if it helps). I would be comfortable removing the cabinets and demolishing the soffit drywall/framing. However, if I do that, would a professional plumber/electrician be able to relocate the plumbing/wiring to be behind the wall/in the ceiling? I don't want to demo everything only to find out that I need to put the soffit back on because of some permanent construction realities. enter image description here

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UPDATE (03/17/2020): Alternatively, instead of removing the entire soffit to the ceiling, would it be possible to raise the soffit ceiling by about 6"-7" and take it in about 5.5" to create a reduced soffit that could be covered with crown moulding? This would make room for 36" cabinets and still leave about 1" of clearance from the bottom of the DWV pipe to the top of soffit framing. There's still the electric and PEX issues, but those seems less apocalyptic. All pending measurement/concurrence from a licensed plumber.

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  • 3
    Learn to love the soffit or multiply your expected cost and time by about 10X and don't be shocked if even that's low...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 15:03
  • Plus one for "Learn to love the soffit".
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 17:27
  • I refuse, who ever came up with such monstrosities!
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 18:14
  • 1
    Alternative is to drop the whole ceiling to soffit level. Not a usual choice, but it achieves the same end - you need utility space, and if it was not built into the walls and floors in the first place, it can be VERY difficult to put into them without either making the house fall down or greatly increasing the cost and complexity of a "simple" remodel.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 23:37
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    It's hard to tell for certain, but it looks like you've got 3" DWV pipe running near a 2x4 wall. Considering that a 2x4 is actually 1.5 x 3.5, not only is it exceedingly difficult to cut a 3" clearance hole through a 2x4, it's illegal and will cause your wall to collapse if you tried.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


You're dealing with some major renovations. I don't think we would be able to answer that accurately just by looking at pictures. The easiest part would be rerouting the electric cables. Junction boxes could be mounted to the joists but the boxes would have to be accessible forever. The plex plumbing would be a nightmare and the drain piping almost impossible as you've got pipes going through the ceiling at that point. The AC duct really appears to have nowhere to go. All of the facilities you want to move will have to go somewhere so some walls would have to be wider and you'd have to loose a closet or two. You're best bet would be to get a few professionals in there for an estimate, if it's even possible.

  • I didn't think the PEX would be so bad. Couldn't a plumber run it over the ceiling joists with some connectors/extra PEX/etc? For the PV drainage, it seems like you'd just need to reroute the hard turn into the ceiling and then down the wall, versus cutting across the soffit space. Same for HVAC, seemed like much of this could be routed into the ceiling. But sounds worse than I thought.
    – Chris
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 18:16
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    @Chris Maybe the pictures make it look worse than it really is... but it seems to me that running all that up into the ceiling would be really hard. Sooner or later you'd be cutting joists and there's limits on how much you can cut out.
    – JACK
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 18:31
  • A bit late to the game, but adding this for future reference to others who may be reading this. One other aspect to consider is the PEX lines in an exterior wall could be subject to freezing issues if you live in a cold climate (or even in a not-cold climate during an unexpected freezing spell!). Not as big a deal with drains and vents, but could be a concern for supply lines that are always full with water.
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 16:20

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