: I had a break in the water main running from the street to my house
: (Seattle area). The old pipe was cheap plastic, so I wanted to replace
: the entire 50' run with copper. A neighbor recommended a plumber to
: me. This guy works in commercial plumbing, but does occasional
: residential plumbing jobs on the side. My neighbor loves this guy, and
: said he had only charged them about $25 per hour, did great work, had
: worked on several neighbors houses, etc.
: I called him and he gave me an over-the-phone estimate of $500 - $600
: for the job. I tried to get him to break down labor vs materials, but
: he waffled around the question.
: I spent a couple days digging trenches in my yard, drilling through
: concrete, and getting the entire job site ready for the plumber. He
: brought out a 50' roll of 1" copper and a small length of 3/4" copper.
: We had talked about 3/4" copper for the whole run, but he said he'd
: gotten a deal on the 1" roll -- $75!! I was thrilled, thinking he's
: trying to save me money here.
: I helped him unroll and lay the pipe in the trench, and then he handled
: all the fittings and elbows. He worked for about 2.5 hours, and the job
: was done.
: My jaw dropped when he said I owed him $600, adding "that's what we
: agreed on." He was right, of course, so I paid him. Two days later,
: I'm still fuming. I hadn't even bothered getting estimates from
: plumbers from the phone book, because this guy sounded reasonable and
: was personally recommended.
: Is this an unreasonable charge or not? What would an average plumber
: charge for a job like this? At the very least, I'm feeling screwed
: because he got a deal on his materials without passing any savings along
: to me. Grrr...
Well, you know he is going it simply because he is a good guy <grin>
Chalk this up to experience and vow not to do it again. Which is the better
choice the PITA of getting contractors out to even look at the job, obtain
estimates, check out the referrals and (if you have faith - the BBB) - OR -
fume because you felt you got ripped? DAMHIKT :-)
Just about everytime I get a contractor out to 'assist' me with my
repairs/improvements, no amount of owner-prep seemed to have accounted for
in determining the cost. Seems like I end up paying them for my work
<Grrrr>. Yet, I insist upon doing it myself simply so the job goes to my
satisfaction/QC. Only three or four have given any consideration to the fact
that I labored right beside them the entire time, or simply made the job
site clear ready to go. I make it a point to learn what I can each time, so
I can tackle similar jobs in the future. I've never had to call the same
trade out twice...
Here is a great website where you can go to check out typical construction
These cost guides (New construction, repair, insurance renovation,
electrical, mechanical, and painting), are designed to assist a contractor
with estimating construction costs.
Use the search ability to look up the key components of the entire task. In
your case, the trenching, concrete cutting, the installation of the copper
piping/removal of the old, etc. Now, you will have a better idea of what his
cost is/was and even how much you 'might' be saving by performing some of
the labor yourself <grin>.
Craftsman Book Company ( www.craftsman-book.com ) publishes this data for
contractor's and will even sell you a construction cost estimating software
at a very reasonable price. (download < $20) Unfortunately, their 30 day
trial version will not run on XP, 2000, or Mac.
Best of luck!
"Good martinis are like breasts on a woman. One ain't enough and three's too