I use three tier for simplicity. I have crappy tap water so I use filtered water from the store sown the street (tastes very good and yields nice tasting beer) so I have been lifting the bottles. With my new stand, it will be a pump to get the water to the hlt... Easy enough to bypass in case of a pump problem.
For the actual brewing, though, I prefer to use good old fashioned gravity. It worked well enough for Newton, I figure it'll work good enough for me!
I fly sparge (just old fashioned) so it's just two valves...
My previous stand was "something from nothing" ... An old post we found buried in the back yard, and some old square stock from an old weider exercise machine... Worked great and its new owner loves it like I did.