The gouger

How's this guys?
I get called to a small urban church to finish a job that someone else started. He roughed in one toilet, one lav, one kitchen sink (on a common wall), and stubs for a shower stall. He ran about 50' of PVC with less than 25 fittings of various sizes. He ran soft copper from the basement and just enough fittings to rough these fixtures in. His bill was $5400.00
He charged $70/hr (which is high for this area). He charged $48 for a trip charge each day or half day he worked there, and while waiting for the inspector, he charged the hourly rate for six hours.
He didn't set the shower stall or shower valve. He ran the water and waste lines on the surface of the new bathroom walls, so the cabinet will have to be really butchered to hook things up. He roughed in the lav drain at 21". He used Studor vents instead of vent pipes.
I think that even plumbers in New York would grimace.
Mike
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This is the sort of stuff that gives those of us in the plumbing trade a bad name. It is assumed by most people that plumbers get a lot of money for what they do...and rightfully so, it's tough work. But charging high rates for lousy work is what tarnishes our rep. I have generally found that people don't mind paying a premium price if they get a premium job. Here in our biz at the NJ shore we get $80.00 hr. and for that we do the very best we can in a timely manner. We are fortunate that we work in an affluent area where this rate is actually quite competitive, with other bigger outfits getting even more.
For the sake of discussion it might be interesting to find out what sort of rates prevail in the various areas where contributors to this list work. Mike, you say $70.00 is high in your area. Where might that be? And what is the average rate?
Tyler

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I think the amount charged is Ok. Charging to wait for an inspector is what I did. So do cab drivers. I always had a 4 hr. min. for work.
But, to use cheater vents and a inspector can see and pass it ? The inspection people are not doing their job. Craftsmanship goes with inspection also.
TJE...I found that $100.00 is cheap. One, go by Means estimating or make your hourly price high. I guaranteed all work a year and one day.
Try and keep your price the same as a doctor or lawyer. If you are good at your job charge the same as a good doctor does. I find that is a good guide line.
I found that if you put out ten bids and get them all you lose money. If you get two jobs out of ten you make money.
You are under cutting the competition ? Never do that ! That's being a scalper. Charge the same or more. If you are afraid to tell people what you want, hire an estimator, but people like to see the boss tell them the price. Then you go into what the ins., workers comp, city taxes and that you are doing this job as a favor to him and you should be working the pipes in a factory that pays 5 times more bla bla....hell, they'll feel sorry for you.

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"TJE"
I'm now back from Istambul, and ready to jump in again. The original story I gave was about a guy who just came in and did T&M to rough in a bath and kitchen sink. There just couldn't have been $600 in material (He supplied no fixtures, faucets, or shower valves). And there couldn't have been 30 man hours to pipe it. To charge $5400 is just robbery.
Your $80/hr is no doubt fair where you live, but even in New York (and I'm still trying to figure out why things are so expensive there) the $5400 would raise an eyebrow or two.
Even with your shop, you probably would expect to give some sort of estimate for adding a bath, wouldn't you?
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Indeed, $70 - $90 hr. in our area is about average. So we're right in the middle. We always give a "ball park' figure on bigger jobs, but service work is T&M at $80.00 hr. We get about $750.00, + or - depending on the situation, for an basic gas water heater replacement.
I think the reason why rates are even more in NYC & other cities is the problem of theft, overhead, etc, is so much more of a problem. No doubt someone has be paid to stay with the truck to make sure it's not broken into!

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My city is 50,000 a 30' x 25' shop pays city taxes around $3,500 a year. Can you imagine NYC ?

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"TJE"
I think $70/hr is a little high for Cincinnati, but close to normal. The thing that got me was the $48 trip charge that he marked down even when he was only there a few hours. I'm pretty sure that anywhere, simply roughing in a full bath and kitchen sink with minimal trouble, and he didn't put in the shower stall or shower valve (the lines were not far away, and it was all open, etc.) that $5400 was way out of line. He wanted an additional $1100 to set the fiberglas stall, put in the shower valve, and set the toilet, lav, and sink. The fixtures were coming from elsewhere, he was just going to supply the shutoffs, traps, and supplies.
I was a plumber for many years in Chicago, but do some side work now just to grease things along. I can do a lot out of my car, and there's a lot of work out there to do.
This small church should have asked for a bid or at least an estimate. They're just sick over this, but they paid him off.
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