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Where I'm from we used contracts with such details spelled out. Usually manifolds require some communication, size supply coming in, do you want addition ports for future use, size supplies preferred 3/8" or 1/2" etc. Sounds like lack of communication so he did it the cheapest, easiest way.
We are just starting to use PEX here, just approved locally, but the biggest difference is the time it will take to get hot water to a specific fixture. You have to fill the bigger lines with water all the way to the fixture you are at. If you have a manifold system it is usually a 3/8" or more commonly 1/2" line to the fixture not the 3/4" in your case or in some or the houses we are doing 1" to 1-1/2" to the manifold and only 1/2" to the fixtures. Some of these we actually use a Brached system so we can use a recirc because it is so far from the heater, these we try to talk the owners into multiple smaller tankless water heaters which together actually cost less than the one big unit.
we only do a manifold system when the customer specifically requests it, which almost never happens
most people get impatient while waiting for hot water to arrive at a fixture, if you turn on the sink, it draws water to the bathroom, so you just have a second or two wait for hot water at the shower. with a manifold system, you'd have to clear the hot lines individually.
just a matter of convenience to me. though i'm sure there are some big benefits to a manifold system, they are more costly.
and like was previously stated, you can easily put a recirc line on the end of a branch system and make things even more convenient.
No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.
i would like the manifold system so you can shut off one fixture if needed [ i know about the valve at the fixture ]
but its still nice to have a backup spot to shut it down with out suting down the house .
we have a saying that valves are cheep when installing new pipes then it is when you need to shut something down and there is no valve