View Full Version : You've heard this before - offset flange versus toilet with shorter rough-in

08-24-2012, 05:56 AM
I've searched and searched so I have a feeling I know what the answer would be, but I'm at the end of my rope and could use the verification.

I'm nearing the end of what seems to be an endless renovation, and finally getting around to having my plumbing fixtures installed. I used a general contractor, who brought his own guys, and I've never been particularly fond of the plumber (had a hard time showing up, and showing up on time, and coming with actual tools).

Today, I'm particularly annoyed as he's announced that the bathroom wall was 'changed' and the rough in is insufficient for the Toto Ultramax toilet we had purchased for upstairs. He claims when he installed the pipe it was 12", a quick measurement shows it's closer to 10.5.

Now, I saw these guys every step of the way - and I don't recall them doing anything special to the wall in question (it's a brick wall that got thinset and ceramic tiles), and I know for sure they didn't build outwards. I think he's just covering his rear, but that's a pointless debate now anyway.

He recommended going with an offset flange. After a few searches, it seems to be universally considered as a bad idea. The pipe seems to be a tight fit there to begin with, with what amounts to little more than a 6x6 hole exposing a 3" drain (PVC) which currently rises about 6 inches up out of the floor. I assume he'd have to break tile in order to get the offset flange in there in the first place, and even then I don't know if it would work properly.

From what I can tell - my choices are either to allow him to install one of these (and I've seen the one recommended most often is a Sioux Chief 889-POM), or to see if I can find another toilet with a 10" rough in. I'd have to eat the current toilet purchase - the contractor has since disposed of all the packing materials, so it's not like I can return it (not to mention he ordered way too early and it's been sitting nearly 2 months).

Seeing as the apartment has cost me a small fortune already, I'd don't want to try and save $300-400 now and end up with non-functional plumbing.

So, long winded angry post winding down - does it make sense to even try the offset flange, or just toss the old Toto in the garage and go with a new Toto (assuming the Drake from what I've read) with a 10" rough in, which should fit the pipe (with 10.5" clearance to the wall) just fine?

Gary Swart
08-24-2012, 08:54 AM
Toto makes several models of toilets that use their Unifit Adapter. While it will not work on the Ultra Max, those that it will fit are very nice looking skirted units. Basically, the Unifit Adapter comes in 3 sizes, 10", 12", and 14". In your case, the 10" adapter would allow any of these toilets to fit your 10.5" rough in. You can see these in the Toilet Review link at the top of this page. Please understand that this adapter is unique to Toto and will work only on the specific models it is designed for.

08-24-2012, 12:35 PM

Why are you doing this?

YOU are the customer. You hired a general contractor. It is the general's responsibility to ensure the work. The plumber screwed up. You make him fix it. You get a real 12" rough-in, regardless of what tiling or whatever he needs to pay to fix it. Or you don't pay the general. And you tell this asshole that if he doesn't fix it, you're taking him and the general to small claims court. And you can tell him that nobody moved the wall, and, given his appalling work habits, you'll have 10 people who will testify that he's the one that screwed up. You didn't pay for an offset flange, you paid a professional for the proper plumbing, so you should have it.

You can also threaten to complain to his licensing authority. In fact, I would have their phone number out and ready to dial when you are talking with him about what he is going to do, which is to fix it so it is right. No excuses.

End of story. This isn't your problem.

EDIT: Just to be clear. It's not up to you to compensate for the plumber's screw up, if that's what it is, or the general's screw up, if that's what it is. You break everybody's balls, AND HARD, and threaten to withhold payment until it's resolved, and you don't listen to any crap about mechanic's liens, you tell them that you LOVE small-claims court because the customer is always right there and this plainly isn't your problem, it's theirs, and a half-assed offset flange isn't what you paid for and isn't something they are getting paid for so they better get together and figure out how they are going to divvy up the extra work to make it right. The general is probably licensed, too. It's up to them to make it right, not you.

And for what it's worth, the discussions we have on here about how to fix a messed-up rough in usually arise in the context of a new homeowner ripping up a toilet and being horrified by what some idiot did twenty years ago and therefore what to do about work done by wrongdoers who are long gone. We don't talk about it in terms of a current, unfinished job where you have everyone you hired right there in front of you. Stand your ground and they'll make it right, and probably respect you more for it.

Looking further, I see you are in Brooklyn. Oh, yeah...all these guys know that if they have to go to City Court, they lose. And in NYC, the Department of Consumer Affairs can make their life completely-miserable. The number to dial to complain is 311. Have yourself a printout from the DCA web site sitting on table when you're talking to them. It makes a point.

08-24-2012, 01:13 PM

To that last line - if standing my ground made these guys respect me, I'd be Patton by this point. This whole renovation, from permit applications to the finishing touches, has been a nightmare.

The bottom line here is the project started with the contractor's father in charge, and an illness has left me with his useless son. Without getting into the specifics of the whole job, it's been one thing after another, with me chasing them to fix or repair or rip apart and do over what they screwed up the first time, starting with framing, moving to flooring, and just about everywhere else.

I'm myself a P.E. and I noticed quite a bit wrong going down during the entire job, and had to chase them for it. To hear the contractor (or his son, rather), they've lost a lot of money on my job. Personally, I don't give a crap about it - I didn't take on a bargain basement job, I paid good money and if they can't profit off it it's more the result of their own incompetence than anything else.

But here at the bitter end, I'm more concerned in knowing the right thing to do. I can deal with who actually does it after the fact, for the time being they've been trying to lobby me to make one change or another, neither sounding particularly appealing. Chasing after their licenses will be secondary, believe me. Witholding payment - according to them I'm already behind schedule, but according to the plans we had agreed on up front, they're behind on delivering so they're paid for what they've done to date.

08-24-2012, 01:28 PM
As a P.E., you know how progress payments, retainage, etc., are supposed to work. And you know that it's rarely fully-followed, etc.

If you're at the end now, all the more reason (although you're exhausted) to make them do it right. Does the NYC plumbing code even allow an offset flange? Is this thing being inspected? Just thinking of ways to help you get what you want.

One thing to note: all smart lawyers love engineers as witnesses, because engineers are genetically-incapable of lying. It's just a fact. And most judges and jurors know or sense this. So, really, the threat of city court is a good one.

And, FWIW, if you ever need an apt contractor again, I have a really-great one that prices fair and actually gets it done. Not without the occasional delay, work-stoppage, etc. -- this is NYC of course -- but no BS, no screw-ups, and takes pride in doing it right; the kind of guy Superintendants love. (Sounds like the guy you hired was like that and through no fault of your own you got the dufus kid. Sorry to hear about that...)

08-24-2012, 06:21 PM
Not all offset flanges are created equal, and if you had to have one, the one suggested is at least one of the good ones. Yes, it's better to have the flange at the proper position, but unlike the offset flanges that end up having a ledge and an oval opening, this one isn't much different than having a slight jog in the line no worse than the tight turns in the toilet.