I just went through some of the same decisions and decided to put up
furring strips and 1' tile. We don't have immediate access to the
pipes, but we can access valves. If a water pipe should leak, it will
be a simple matter to replace the tiles. Most importantly, we only lost
1.5 inch of headroom.
It was slightly more expensive than drywall, even taking into account
the rental of a drywall lift, but worth it in my opinion, mainly
because I'm tired of drywalling. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
Jim in PA