I am about to start a project to have a contractor tunnel under the house to
access the underground plumbing for repair. Other methods (breaking slabs,
trenchless etc...) have been explored and no luck. The plumber will be doing
plumbing work but the actual tunneling will be done by subs (laborers he
finds). The problem may take three to five days, and longer if it rains.
So now, the contractor asked if I could give him the key to my house (while
we are out working during the day) so they can get inside to get a drink or
to use the bathroom.
I have not used this contractor before. I am a little worried, first, if
they are tunneling, they will not be very clean and in the middle of the day
walking across our carpet to use the boys room may not be a good idea,
especially since we are talking about a leaking sewer line. Also we don't
know the subs (and he gives me the impression he does not know the subs too
well either, for all I know he may get them a highway ramp exits) so
security is also a concern. But I do understand they will be working hard
and be under the sun digging for several days. So what is the proper
protocol? Is it normally expected to provide access to the house on jobs
like these or should I arrange for a portable toilet, or is this the job of
A reputable contractor would never ask such a thing. They would have a rent
a toilet delivered, charge it to you, and provide their own drinks.
Were he to be on the up and up, he would provide you with a bond from his
bonding company should anything come up missing from using these hands he
"finds". These unknown people will be walking down your hallway past your
Sounds shady to me. I'd be looking for another contractor.
If the contractor HAS to get inside to control the plumbing situation,
take time off from work to supervise.
Otherwise, tell them to use the toilet at the local McDonalds, or to
rent a port a potty.
I think you have expressed your concerns very well here. If I were you I
would say the same thing to the contractor and see what he says.
I do mostly clean work installing window treatments. People leave their
homes open for me or hide a key all the time. Not that I have anything worth
stealing but I personally could never do that.
What and how you feel about it is the issue. I would leave a cooler full of
drinks and the contractor can provide a john or I would not be upset if they
peed in the yard. YMMV.
There is generally an outdoor spigot on most houses for their drinks
and hand washing. Be sure it's turned on for them. Be nice and give
them a cooler with some drinks if you wish, let them take care of
their own potty needs, there is likely a public restroom nearby.
If they MUST get in the house on a particular day to do the work, pay
someone you trust a few bucks to let them in an out. There are plenty
of unemployed seniors living on a fixed income that would be happy to
help and make a few bucks too.
Nope. No dice. Workers are not allowed to use my bathroom. They are
slobs and make a mess. Most of them even acknowledge it. I've had work
done many times and I always make sure I'm home if they need to be inside.
I've only had one instance where a worker asked if he could use the
bathroom (yea, I let him and informed him he couldn't anymore). The rest
just follow the rule and time their bathroom runs for lunch or breaks and
go elsewhere. If it's a big enough job, a portable john is in order.
Think about it for your case. They are going to be in the DIRT digging a
tunnel. When they go in to your house, where do you think that dirt will
end up? Do you think they will take the time to clean it up? Be
It is not normal for them to expect bathroom access and a portable is their
So if I come over to repair you computer and I gotta go, you wont
leave me use your toilet, and will call me a slob and make me drive to
the nearest gas station. Well, I got news for you buddy. If you
pulled that stunt on me, I'd take a crap or pee right on your office
chair and leave, being sure your computer would never work again.
You heard this from "The Source" !
I second what Ed P said. Rent the Johnny on the spot or ask him to rent
one and include it in the price of the job. Also - a big cooler with
drinks. Have someone slip in a six pack toward the end of the day.
OK - So, are you SURE that you actually need to tunnel under the house?
This sounds extreme. There are electronic methods of identifying pipe
locations. Even cameras that can be inserted and their locations mapped
I'm assuming you have a collapsed sewer line. Common with very old cast
iron or clay pipes. Even if they DO find the collapsed section of pipe,
then what. yes it can be repaired but you have just put a very
expensive band aide on the problem. What is to prevent the section 4'
away from collapsing?
Here is what I would do. Abandon the old sewer line. Install a new. It
will be cheaper and easier to do.
The more I look at this, the more suspicious I am.
Tunnelling under the house?
Wouldn't that open up a can of worms?
Weaken the support?
Run into all kinds of other things? (rocks, other lines, ????)
Get into a never ending openended project?
Running a new line would be a MUCH simpler approach.
I am wary of this contractor, and I have never met him.
This really belong to another thread. But yes I need to tunnel under the
house. It is on a monolithic slab. I have investigated many methods over
the last few months. Including paying several experts to video the line to
explore trenchless methods. There is a break in the line under the slab at
an elbow junction in the PVC line. Cannot use trenchless in an elbow.
Located the break. But there is back pitch. I can break the slab from
above, open up a hole, had several plumbers looked at the video, all agreed
the hole needs to be 12 feet in length because more then likely a section of
pipe connected to it need to be replaced and rehung, and not just the elbow.
To run a new line? Explored that too, unfortunately will also require
tunneling under the house to hook it up, so it's the same job, plus it will
mean tearing up the entire sidewalk and concrete driveway in addition to it.
Support is not a problem. The house is two miles from the beach and soil is
very sandy, therefore, it is sitting on pilings every 10 or 12 feet. The
plumber (who I have not used before but seemed knowledgeable) told me he has
tunneled a few house like mine, and when he opened the tunnel up, there is
always four to six feet of air space between the bottom of the slab and the
soil. The house after years will be just sitting on piles and the
supporting soil is doing practically nothing. I tend to agree with him, but
I will see for myself when he starts the tunnel.
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