Split Level Ranch... Crazy Plumbing... Where to put a new water heater?

I just bought a 1960 split-level - it's one of these floor plans that's basically four floors (bottom to top: basement, garage/ground level, living level, bedroom level).
Needless to say, plumbing and electrical work is quite... interesting. Currently, we have a boiler and holding tank in the basement on the side of the house that is furthest away from all the actual plumbing fixtures / appliances. Consequently, all of the plumbing lines have to take very long trips to get to their respective fixtures.
I'm considering replacing the boiler/tank setup for a more efficient water heater. I am also considering placing the water heater elsewhere in the house (not the basement). We have utility closets on the living and bedroom levels that are centrally located to plumbing fixtures and that would allow the water heater to vent through the roof.
Positioning is important because we also have a TON of replumbing to do (lots of leaky valves, shabby home fixes from yesteryears, and an interest in making significant renovations). I would envision placing the water heater in the bedroom level (where most of the plumbing fixtures exist) and running new pipe throughout the house up through the attic crawlspace and back down into respective fixtures.
And now, my questions:
1. Water heater recommendations? I'm willing to pay extra $ for efficiency and quality.
2. Placement of the water heater in top level of house - any watchouts here?
3. Is running new plumbing up into the attic and back down into fixtures a good idea? My big concern is heat loss / freezing in winter months (I live in upstate NY)
4. The house has 2.5 bathrooms, W/D, and a typical kitchen. Currently, it's just my wife and I living in the house. Is a 40g water heater sufficient? We only need hot water for showers, sinks, and dishwasher (no baseboard heat, etc).
5. What should I do with the boiler if I go this route? Our heat is currently electric baseboard (shudder) and electric radiant (cringe). Should I look into using the boiler for changing over to hot water baseboard?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Relocating the hot water tank could involve a huge expense and code issues. There is also a greater potential for damage if it fails in the living area as opposed to the basement. If you are replumbing anyway consider a hot water recirculation loop described here:
http://www.askthebuilder.com/NH059_-_Hot_Water_Recirculating_Loop.shtml
Hot water basboard would make your house more comfortable but running all those pipes in a split-level woul be labor-intensive (read $$$$).
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for resale top $ go with a large water heater, they cost little extra to run but are nice to have for peak demands..
dont relocate WH, added danger from fumes or leak if a malfunction occurs, takes away closet space, causes interesting code issues for being around flamability, venting etc etc
install hot water recurliating line for fast hot water.
concentrate bucks on energy efficency as you remodel that pays back forever
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