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Thread: Need advice. I bought CPVC and the plumber used copper.

  1. #16
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I paid him in full for labor and half the cost of the copper, which he had leftover from another job.
    That doesn't make any sense. I've heard that one time before from a really cheap customer and swore I would never take a customer like that again.

    Plumbing material on the truck is considered "Inventory" by the IRS. It's an asset that gets listed on our tax returns.
    Because we show up with a full loaded truck ready to do our work; well, that's a moving storefront that we have stocked and shopped and paid for.

    When I get a call from someone that says he has a bag of parts for me to use, I skip the job. I don't buy from home centers, I buy from plumbing suppliers. I don't have time to pull everything out of bags, and time to remove sticky tags on the fittings. Some of them right where the joint needs to be made.

    So a warning to plumbers, like you don't already know this one. If the homeowner has a bag of fittings bought at a homecenter, pass it right by. They can find an unlicensed handyman so he can give plumbing a shot.
    You don't "have" to work for those people. Fill your work schedule with customers that "get it".
    We're not in the business of education, we're licensed contractors.

    I paid him in full for labor and half the cost of the copper, which he had leftover from another job.
    Sort of like shop lifting I think. Not willing to pay for that stuff on the shelves.

    If I EVER have to make a trip to pick up more fittings and pipe, I don't consider that I "stocked" the truck well enough for the job to start with.
    Last edited by Terry; 09-08-2013 at 09:00 AM.

  2. #17
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Customer: " I'll supply the materials "

    Me: " have a nice day ". Click

    You don't bring a steak to the restaurant and have them cook it.
    You don't bring the muffler to Midas and have them install it.

    Why would you expect a plumber to install your stuff? Oh, I know this one LOL.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  3. #18
    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    Like everyone else we have customers that have gone online and have "figured out" how much we make on the materials we sell. What they fail to realize is that we as contractors have bought, paid for and transported those materials to their job. Plus we are the ones who will warranty the products in the event of a failure.

    Usually, those customers get a G & A charge buried into the bill someplace.

  4. #19
    DIY Member ImOld's Avatar
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    I love these kind of threads.

    DIY vs "The Pro's".

    I have been a DIY guy all my life but I did get expert training from various family businesses during my school days.

    I spent a career as an electronic field engineer so I am extremely familiar with customer attitudes.

    I can't imagine having a customer suggest I install some computer parts they bought at Radio Shack and I never had this happen in 35 years.

    Right now I am waiting on a local HVAC guy to give me an estimate on a furnace conversion.

    He already knows I know how much the parts cost.

    What he doesn't know is that I don't care how much he charges since I don't feel qualified to mess with any kind of gas.

    Bottom line is the DIY'r hasn't a clue as to what is involved in running a business.

  5. #20
    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    I'm going to weigh in on this. A couple of thoughts:

    (1) Like anybody in business, a lot of the hostile posters on here are lashing out because they have been burned or had their time wasted over time by customers who have put them in a position where they didn't make much money on a job. Understood. Been there. But the original poster should understand that he has become a lightning rod for a lot of folks, based on assumptions they are making about his motives and what his arrangment was with the contractor.

    (2) No doubt the poster got a higher-quality result than if CPVC had been used -- likely a much-higher-quality one. (Assuming it was installed right, which I assume it was because the contractor was using a familiar material rather than an unfamiliar one.) In some sense, the contractor did "do him a favor", but it's not really a favor because the contractor charged him for it.

    (3) How this would come out in front of Judge Judy would depend upon a number of facts which we don't have in this case. I would want to know what was the agreement with the contractor about what work would be done, how much it would cost, and what materials would be used? It sounds like this was a time and materials deal, but I am assuming that the contractor AGREED to use customer supplied materials. I'm not clear how it is that the client went and bought CPVC. Did the contractor say he would use that material, and then couldn't figure it out? Did he say, "Get me 50 feet of 1-inch pipe" and the homeowner went and bought CPVC instead of the copper the contractor expected? There's some sort of disconnect here, and what the understanding was between the folks is going to determine how Judge Judy would decide.

    (4) Anyone who would recommend that the contractor go "rip it out" shouldn't be a licensed anything. Try to invade my home without authority and you could end up in jail or the hospital or both, before the lawsuit I would drop on you would mean I get your work van and tools.

    (5) Note the term "contract" in the word "contractor". The contract between these two, oral or written, would/should have covered what materials would be provided and by whom, and what the charge for installation would be. If the contractor knew he was expected to work with CPVC and that it would be provided by the homeowner and the homeowner provided what was expected, it's one outcome. If there was a different arrangement, then a different outcome. People have a right to ask for a less-expensive, lower-quality product. If someone asked for an Original Drake, Terry wouldn't just show up and put in a Neorest and expect the homeowner to pay him the full price of that product just because it's "better". On the other hand, if the type of toilet wasn't specified, most judges would apply a rule of reason.

    (6) Regardless, in the execution of any contract, communication is paramount. People can and should be able to work things out by phone, email, etc., and it's much better (and often required) that you get approval to make a change if you expect to be compensated for it. In a real AIA contract, changes require a change order. They are a pain, but the very best commercial contractors demand them every single time, regardless of whether the client rep is screaming that this problem needs to be solved now and they'll paper it later. That is a huge trap that many have fallen into, and most of the time the client rep isn't to be trusted.

    (7) No reason for the homeowner to be all huffy and threatening. Same for the contractor. Something unexpected occurred. There's an amount of money that should satisfy both, or equally-dissatisfy both. Life is too short. Assuming that both sides acted in good faith, they should figure out what is fair, based upon the circumstances, exchange that money, shake hands, and move on to do more stuff in the future.
    Last edited by wjcandee; 09-08-2013 at 08:03 PM.

  6. #21
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    When customers have offered to buy all the materials for a rough plumbing job, I've turned them down.
    I would never expect to wait around for someone else to do my shopping.
    When I do rough plumbing, I have enough on the truck to do enough work for a week or two. A homeowner isn't going to know what to buy when it comes to pipe and fittings.

    A bad experience with the homeowner that didn't want to pay for what I pulled from my fitting trays, fitting buckets and pipe on my roof rack, was feeling that he should get those things for free, since I already had it on the truck.
    I pay $7.28 for a 3/4 brass union. The job I'm talking about was a complete rough-in for a three bath home. The rough material came to thousands of dollars. I did finally make him realize that "every" customer pays for their own fittings, and there is no "free" stuff that "somebody else" has paid for out of the kindness of their heart. Do people really think that we overcharged the previous customer and had "left-over" material that's been paid for? That's just goofy. What we do have is material on the truck that we haven't sold yet. In retail, that's called inventory.

    But like mentioned above, you're on shaky ground if you are changing the contract without conferring with the customer, either oral or written. And you can't go back and undo the work. Once installed, it's done.

    In the original case here, I wouldn't have even started the job.
    The plumber made a mistake by agreeing to do the work.
    Last edited by Terry; 09-08-2013 at 10:22 PM.

  7. #22
    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    the homeowner that didn't want to pay for what I pulled from my fitting trays, fitting buckets and pipe on my roof rack, was feeling that he should get those things for free, since I already had it on the truck.
    Yecch. Some people are morons. It's a weird aspect of our culture that some folks think that they are somehow entitled to get stuff for free.

    It's like when we owned restaurants, I educated the staff on what a serving of mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, meat, bread, etc., actually cost us -- wrote it right on the jars -- because most staff actually think that it's basically-free because you are "buying in bulk". I'm not kidding. It was a shot in the dark, but I was pleasantly-surprised that when people realized that this stuff actually cost money, most were much more respectful of the product and became more sensitive to not wasting it. They also understood why we saved unserved cooked meat and vegetables to use in soups, stews, etc. -- because it gives us a chance actually to sell something that we have paid for and otherwise would have to throw away. Food cost, estimated and actual, in raw dollars and percentages, is an obsession with any good chef, but unless the chef impresses that same passionate obsession on his workers, they usually remain clueless.

  8. #23
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I agree with Terry on this one. The guy that did the plumbing made a tactical error. Communication is always the 1st step is avoiding these issues. I'm a bit leery as to wether or not the guy doing the plumbing was actually a plumber or just a handyman/contractor that probably had no business plumbing in the 1st place in which case i'm happy he got the short end of the stick LOL
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  9. #24
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; If the customer wants PEX or cpvc it's not up to the plumber to decide what to do when your back is turned.

    No, but we can refuse to do the job if we do not want to use that material. After all, WE have to guarantee the job and service it for one or two years, so if I am not comfortable with the material, I will NOT use it. I either do NOT tell the customer what I am going to use, or spell it out in advance and he can either agree or call someone else. I do not "negotiate".
    Last edited by hj; 09-09-2013 at 07:17 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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