What is it with plumbers?
I need a short list of plumbing jobs done, varying in difficulty level from
"I could do it, but I'd rather not", to "WAY beyond my skills".
Plumber 1: Gave estimate of $1500.00, and about 6 hours of work. Said his
rate was $60 per hour, and materials for the work are around $100. For
purposes of discussion, I did the math allowing for 10 hours (because you
never know), and questioned why the estimate was twice as much as likely. He
said "That's just what it costs. Let me know if you want to do it".
Plumber 2: Highly recommended by a number of people. Never showed up to look
at what needed to be done, even though I work at home and could've
accomodated his visit ANY TIME that was convenient for him.
Plumber 3: Another referral. Stopped by (mid-July), looked at what needed to
be done. I told him that I needed an estimate not because I was price
shopping (because I'm really not), but so that I could budget the work, and
know whether to do it in pieces, or all at once. Said he understood, said
he'd call back with prices, never called back. His assistant keeps saying he
will, but it's August 26th and......
Anyway, are we all in the wrong business? Do these guys really have so much
work that they can be this way with potential customers?
I was in the same boat as you..... I was in the process of building
a bathroom in my basement. I needed a ejector pump, the sewer lines
and hot/ cold copper run. I got a quote from a friends plumber for
1400.00 for the whole job. I jumped on it! This guy promised he'd
show for weeks at a time and nothing. I called other plumbers in to
get estimates, they never showed either. After a week or so, I just
said the hell with this crap, took a
sledge hammer and started the job myself. Needless to say, I did it
all. I even got a few perminant scars (hot solder + skin = OOOOUCH!)
arm for the job. In the mean time I did get a number for a Master
plumper that charges allot of money. At least this guy shows and does
good work. If I have MAJOR problems at least I have someone to call.
Its a rare find to get one of these guys in (and shows) for a decent
I did upgrade my service in my home to 200amp. The electrician was
recommended by a coworker (his brother inlaw)
The guy showed, did a great job and didnt rip me off at all. In my
appreciation I got him a few more jobs (residental and commercial)
I'd try the "major" part of the work, but it involves removing massive iron
drain pipes from the 1st floor bathroom down to the cellar and replacing
with PVC. I'm really leary of totally disabling the only bathroom in the
house for more than a day, and as we know, EVERYTHING takes more than a day
when you're learning. And, I really don't know my new neighbors well enough
to ask if we can plan on using their bathroom for an entire weekend. I've
done faucets and other lightweight stuff, but this is a whole 'nother thing.
You can buy a porta-pottie for about $50-$75 that will get you through
The larger model will be closer to normal toilet height, and won't
have to be emptied as often. You can buy thes online or at any RV or
Marine Supply store, such as West Marine, or BoatUS.
For that matter, if you will be saving a grand or two by doing this
yourself, you can get a motel room for a few nights. You don't even
have to sleep there - just use it as a remote bathroom for showers and
Get an "elderly user" portable toilet. It's like a cross between a
walker and a toilet. essentially a toilet seat with a support frame
surround and a bucket which can be removed when in need of emptying.
(Used essentially the same way as a chamber pot when they can't get
from the bed to toilet quickly)
Or, you could take a hint from your cat.
Get a contractor bucket, and a bag of kitty litter. Use the bucket as
needed, and cover with kitty litter. If your squeamish, throw the
whole thing out when you are finished with the job.
Or, Make everyone use it before the iron is removed, and plan on going
out for lunch/dinner.
I'd try to arrange for liquids to be bottled and/or disposed of
outside. (if you have a drain in the basment floor connected to the
sewage system, you could empty things there if outside isn't private
enough.) (Don't empty the kitty litter into the sewage)
Just a few thoughts.
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
Seems so. I can count the number of trades folk that had any customer
service clue whatsoever on one hand.
The first plumber gave you the "I feel pretty overwhelmed, go away or
make it worth my while" quote it seems.
If somehow you can root out someone who takes side jobs, that might be
the way to go, but that can be hard without having a buddy in the
Doug, where you at? I've got a guy I use. SE PA. I actually found him
through the online referral service called "service magic" The referral
service actually worked well for me. http://www.servicemagic.com /
It seems the whole small contractor thing , the one man shop,the I'll
be right out guy. Has turned into a business of flakes. If it's a matter of
not wanting to do little jobs, why bother going out to look. Some of those
small jobs are a pain in the ass, bid them to be a pain. They are the kind
of guys that want to work until they get a job.
Plumbers, A/C repairmen, electricians, bug killers, and anyone else that
will come to your house to do their job is going to charge you too much
for the work. You are paying for the worker, his supervisor, the people
who subcontracted them, the secretary, their "experience", and some
extra just to rip you off.
Some of the work they do takes skill and some things they can do better
because they know some tricks of the trade. But for the most part there
isn't anything that you can't do as well or better. They will almost
always rush a job. You have the luxury of taking our time.
Bottom line, if you want quality work at a modest price then you are
going to have to do it yourself. You can find people to hire that will
do excellent work but they will overcharge the heck out of you.
You just wrote that anyone that comes to your house is going to charge
you too much. What are you suggesting? Bring the bathroom to them?
Nothing like a blanket statement to start off a post. It immediately
let's people know where you stand so they can determine if they want to
keep reading or not.
You left out materials. Besides the labor and subs, the other things
are called overhead - the cost of doing business. You left out
insurance, licensing, vehicles and other equipment, etc., etc.
I'm not sure if you're talking about profit, contingency amounts or
gouging. Of course it could just be that whatever amount they charged
would be too much for you.
Taking what could be excessive amounts of time to complete a task is
not doing a better job. If you ignore time, and look at just the
quality of the work, it's still doubtful that a novice, in any line of
work, could perform work better than someone who has done it hundreds
or thousands of times before. If you believe otherwise, it's either
your ego talking or you really don't know how to evaluate the work
My time is worth more than your average tradesman's hourly rate. If
you consider your own time to have no value, then you're right, doing
your own work will be a modest price. This is the standard
self-deluding position of most people that crow about their savings
doing their own work. If you factor in the time it takes them to do
the work, multiply that by how much they earn at their regular job and
add that to the project cost, there is rarely a savings. Unless the
person earns very little to start with.
Finishing off your post with another obviously fallacious blanket
statement always helps people classify your position.
Well, it looks like you determined that you want to read it. Matter of
fact, you even took time to critique everything I said.
Yes, that is my point exactly... stuff that as a DIYer you don't have to
When you figure out the cost of time and materials and compare that to
what they charge you, there will always be a big gap. Where does that
money go? It certainly isn't going to the work they do on your house
and that is a rip off.
I have had some good work done and some bad work done. In general, high
skilled work like A/C work gets done well. Low skilled work like
painting and carpentry gets done sub par. But in the end, it's a gamble
and usually never perfect. And perfection is what I expect when I am
paying for it.
Well, I wasn't implying that you should do the job during your working
hours. If you do it during that time when you are usually jerking off
or wasting time analyzing peoples USENET posts then I am not so sure
your time is worth more... but then again, maybe you value that jerking
Call it what you want but it is generally true. I don't have time to
quantify every statement and place disclaimers on everything I say.
Maybe you do, or is your time too valuable?
On the contrary, these too take skill and care if they are to be done
correctly. Since when is carpentry a low skilled job? Seem to me that
it takes a large amount of time, practice, and experience to become a
carpenter worthy of the job title.
As for painting, a poorly done paint job will flake off in a year or
less. A well done paint job takes time, skill, and the willingness to
do a good job. After all, the more you know, the better the end
I've seen far too many examples of poor work done by homeowners, who
have good intentions to be sure, who knew that just because a hammer
or a paint brush will fit into his or her hand, that they are
qualified to be carpenters or painters. The results are uniformly
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
I guess you people are freaking idiots then if you can't fix anything
yourself and you consider the dumb ass migrant works who paint your
house to be skilled labor. I guess maybe I am just smarter than all of
you because you sound like a bunch of whiners that can't do anything
right on your own. I'd think that in a alt.home.repair newsgroup I
would find people that are actually quite handy but I guess I was wrong.
"dumb ass migrant works"...? Let's see...dumbass is one word; they're
not migrant, they're immigrants; and they're workers. Works is the
equipment you apparently shoot up with.
You must have meant that you're smarter than all of us _put together_.
That's the usual bleating cry of the self-absorbed.
You're obviously incapable of evaluating the value of the work itself,
why am I not surprised that you are incapable of evaluating the value
of differing opinions? When someone points out your myopia, you call
Maybe you should post a question and see if you can separate the wheat
from the chaff. Unless, of course, you came here with all of the
answers and don't need to ask questions. In that case, feel free to
start a new newsgroup. I believe alt.it's.mine.mine.mine is available.
Do you need to do this to feel good about yourself? Mebbe after seeing the same
color latex slathered all over your house, ceiling, walls, and moulding? Or
something like that?
If you're so super-skilled (or, alternatively, your family has acquiesced to
amateurish repairs and work), great. You're set.
So - here's the question - why are you here berating everyone? What are you
getting out of it?? You shoudln't have enough time, what with planning your
vacations and all...
My theory - the one who has the skills to DIY *well*, is just the guy or gal to
appreciate a good professional job. But he does it himself, for the reasons I
listed in my other post, like, he likes to do it. And knows the effort and
planning and problem-solving that goes into it. Painting's my thing.
Tradespeople I know who see my house assume it's been done professionally; and I
do it for friends. But there's still been a job or too I hired out. Why?
Because I appreciate the time and skill it takes to do it right, and I didn't
have time for doing it right.
Based on my theory, a guy who lambasts everyone who *doesn't* DIY and people in
the trades, would have as characteristics, by comparison....
...the rest to be left as an exercise for the reader.
All I am saying is that you will generally pay too much for someone else
to do the job for you because you pay for everyone from the low paid
laborer to the secretary, all the supplies, all the petty licenses,
insurance, "extra costs just so the head guy can sip cock tails",
"experience costs", etc. Call someone to do some work and you are
helping to put someones kid through college. It's all business and
there is nothing wrong with it if that's what you want to do. All I am
saying is that you can do a lot of that work yourself and you can
probably do it as well or better if you research and plan accordingly.
For some people this is easy to do. For some it is hard. If it is
hard, then I guess you just have to pay someone to do it. That's tough.
But if you are at all handy you can figure out most of the stuff if you
want. Sure, there are times it's easier to just hire someone, and
sometimes I do. But that is not what I was getting at. What I was
bitching and moaning about is when someone needs to replace a sink
faucet or something else and people on here tell them to hire a good
plumber to do it. Well, you don't need a plumber to replace a faucet
unless you are an idiot. You can take the $100 you saved an go out to
dinner and a movie and whatever. That's just being smart. It takes
less time to do it yourself than to hire someone then wait for them to
come while you have to take off work and then call them back because
they put it on crooked or whatever. I am berating those that choose to
hire someone. I am berating the people on here that imply that it can't
be done yourself if you just take the time to try. But screw it, I am
done trying to convince people they can save money if they want. Let
them waste it along with the money they throw away on gas in their Ford
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