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Thread: Estimate too low ?!

  1. #1

    Default Estimate too low ?!

    I have spoken with a plumber who will be in our part of the country for the next month or two only. He offered to replace two toilets in our 11-yr old home for $45 / piece for labor. He also offered to switch out our showerhead and single-lever in our stand-up shower for $125.

    From my searches on here, the prices seem great. Are they too great? if they are what's a ballpark figure for a rural/suburban area?

    [fyi, he seems very knowledgeable and has disclosed that he's down here b/c his new england area is not good for his trade at the moment...]

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I charge $150.00 to install 1 toilet.

  3. #3

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    Does that price assume no 'snags' like a cracked flange, etc. Perhaps his price is just for a straight unbolt/swap ring/rebolt job.
    (important note: I'm not a pro)

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking you get what you pay for

    he is looking for beer money while he is in town.....


    I am sure the warranty he is giving you will run out when

    the beer runs out......



    of course if he floods you out its all going on your

    homeowners insurance.......he aint comming back.......

    so what is your deductable???

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member coach606's Avatar
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    Default It's a piece of cake...

    Assuming all he has to do is actually switch the toilets, there's nothing that can go wrong that wasn't already wrong. Unbolt, scrape off wax ring, install new wax ring, rebolt.

    Don't worry about the warranty. There is not warranty on a toilet replacement. If you're handy, do it yourself. It's easy.

    $150 is a lot of money to install a toilet. Plumbers charge a lot because they could be doing something that's very skillful with that same amount of time. So a unit of time spent in highly skilled plumbing or spent doing something fairly easy, like changing a toilet, is the same price.

    I'll bet this guy will do it fine. There really is nothing that can go wrong that isn't already wrong, unless he overtightens the bolts and cracks your new toilet.



    At least

  6. #6
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking nothing ever goes wrong in plumbing land...

    hey nothing ever goes wrong, thats why TERRY has this

    plumbing forum set up, just so people can sit around

    this site and talk about their plumbing conquests and victories

    when they get bored........


    all I know is if he comes home 6 months from now and finds the

    house flooded, then his WIFE will have no one to blame but HIM...


    and no one to call but their insurance company


    so its his risk ,, isnt it??

  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Lets see I know someone that didn't hook up a toilet right and flooded a home when no one was home to the tune of $17,000.00.

    If the wax ring doesn't go on right and you find out a month later Because the Lino/vinal floor has a stain that is spreading under the top surface or the wood floor is turning black.

    The flange snapped while the toilet was being installed and the guy didn't say anything because after all he is only getting $45.00.

    The toilet becomes loose and starts rocking / leaking.

    Tank to bowl connection starts leaking.

    Flange bolt cracks the bowl.

    Supply stop starts leaking.

    I carry $2,000,000.00 worth of liability ins. and have never had a claim.

    These are a few of the reasons I charge the reasonable sum of $150.00.

    not because

    " Plumbers charge a lot because they could be doing something that's very skillful with that same amount of time. So a unit of time spent in highly skilled plumbing or spent doing something fairly easy, like changing a toilet, is the same price."
    Last edited by Cass; 07-13-2006 at 04:55 PM.

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpennington
    I have spoken with a plumber who will be in our part of the country for the next month or two only. He offered to replace two toilets in our 11-yr old home for $45 / piece for labor. He also offered to switch out our showerhead and single-lever in our stand-up shower for $125.]
    Sounds like the traveling preachers they used to have in late 19th and early 20th century.

    With all that has been said he may do a good job, who knows, it's just that when he's gone he ain't commin back..
    Last edited by Cass; 07-13-2006 at 05:14 PM.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member coach606's Avatar
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    Default Misunderstood...

    I just wanted to say that I never meant to insult anyone.

    I think you misunderstood me. If I hire a lawyer who makes $200 an hour to spend an hour doing complex legal work, it's the same fee as if I get him to agree to spend an hour changing my toilet. Why? Because the man is highly skilled, highly educated, and commands a premium salary reguardless of the complexity of the work.

    What I said was a compliment, not an insult. No one would pay me $150 to change a toilet. Why? Because I don't have the advanced plumbing knowledge you do. You command a high price because you have a lot of skills in plumbing. That's totally legit. But this person still has a choice.

    As for the toilet, I suppose anything could go wrong. But the bottom line is that any do it yourselfer who can follow a few simple instructions should be able to change a toilet out if nothing else is wrong. If your toilet already leaks, there could be a more serious problem. But if everything is fine and you're just changing to a new toilet, certainly a guy who's a plumber of some kind should be able to handle it with few complications.

    Also, no one said to change the toilet and then go to Jamiaca for six weeks. Watch the toilet to see if it leaks. If it does, turn off the water supply. Flush the water out of it or suck it out with a wet vac. Diagnose the problem yourself with a plumbing book or by getting advice on a forum. OR hire a pro and be done with it.

    I don't think this forum exists to because of the complexity of exchanging a toilet.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member coach606's Avatar
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    Default point by point...

    If you want to save money with this guy or do it yourself, it is a risk. But here's a breakdown of these issues.

    1) Wax ring not going on right: I guess it could happen. If so, toilet will leak out of the bottom. If you have tile, you're probably okay. The floor should be covered with plywood, and then a "watertight" layer like cement board, then mortar, then tiles, then tile grout, then tile sealer. The floor is made to get wet and protected. I guess all hell could break loose, but it's unlikely in my amateur opinion. To fix this problem you just scrape off the old wax ring (it's soft wax, especially when new) and press on a new one. It's easy and most plumbing books have great pictures for how to do this.

    2) The toilet becomes loose and starts rocking / leaking: Get out a wrench and carefully retighten the flange bolts. Pack them with plumbers putty, too. Or use plastic shims. These are all very easy fixes and they can happen even with a great plumber who probably won't shoot out of bed our duck out of a big job to put a plastic shim under your toilet.

    3) Tank to bowl connection starts leaking: There's again a bolt there with a gasket. Just tighten it carefully. Don't overtighten it or you'll crack the porcelain.

    4) Flange bolt cracks the bowl: This probably the most likely of the problems. Just watch the guy and if you hear a crack when he tightens the bolts, say, "what was that? Did you just crack the toilet by overtightening a bolt?"

    5) Supply stop starts leaking: I assume this is because the "plumber" somehow wacked it. Again, watch him do the work. If it leaks, it can be replaced fairly easily. Ask the guy who does it to check it for leaks before he leaves. Check it yourself. Wipe it dry and then run a paper towel over it to check for leaks.

    Hey, I'm just a homeowner who does occassional plumbing on his own house. So make your decision however you want. There are benefits to hiring a pro at $150 a toilet and benefits to saving money on something that is probably an easy job for anyone with a little plumbing experience UNLESS YOU ALREADY HAVE A PROBLEM with the toilet or shower.

    Good luck with your choice.
    Last edited by coach606; 07-13-2006 at 06:33 PM.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark
    I am sure the warranty he is giving you will run out when

    the beer runs out......

    of course if he floods you out its all going on your

    homeowners insurance.......he aint comming back.......

    so what is your deductable???
    ok ok ok! dayum, you made your point without trying to scare me. lol. I telephoned the state department of licensing where he said he resides from. They had his name listed in the database however the license was not active for this year ...

    As you could tell from my post, i was somewhat wary. I was never worried about the quality of the job. He's a legimate plumber with many yrs experience and it's just a toilet (though I won't try). I also had reservations about not having any recourse in the event something went awry. There are many licensed plumbers w/ insurance in my area, so the competition keeps them honest re: price. This situation ... sometimes you just want to help out someone having a rough patch in life. I even told him, that I'm not looking to get a low price so as to equate stealing services and that I wanted him to be satisfied. Anyway, I'll save my "help someone out" good deed a task with less downside like cutting the lawn or something.
    Last edited by lpennington; 07-13-2006 at 06:37 PM.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coach606
    If you want to save money with this guy or do it yourself, it is a risk. But here's a breakdown of these issues.

    1) Wax ring not going on right: I guess it could happen. If so, toilet will leak out of the bottom. If you have tile, you're probably okay. The floor should be covered with plywood, and then a "watertight" layer like cement board, then mortar, then tiles, then tile grout, then tile sealer. The floor is made to get wet and protected. I guess all hell could break loose, but it's unlikely in my amateur opinion. To fix this problem you just scrape off the old wax ring (it's soft wax, especially when new) and press on a new one. It's easy and most plumbing books have great pictures for how to do this.

    2) The toilet becomes loose and starts rocking / leaking: Get out a wrench and carefully retighten the flange bolts. Pack them with plumbers putty, too. Or use plastic shims. These are all very easy fixes and they can happen even with a great plumber who probably won't shoot out of bed our duck out of a big job to put a plastic shim under your toilet.
    These are good examples of how common sense and intuition don't always work in our favor. As you can periodically read on this forum, wax rings do indeed fail, due to improper installation. This can and does lead to wood rot. The area right around the toilet flange is not likely to be completely waterproof with all the layers mentioned.

    Also, if a toilet rocks, the proper response is to take it off, replace the wax ring, and set it back properly so it doesn't rock. If it has rocked, it means the wax ring seal has been broached, and the wax ring needs to be replaced. Simply tightening the bolts won't do it.

    It's these kind of seemingly simple, but extremely important, points that real professionals know -- I say this as a reasonably well-informed layman, but I'll bet there are dozens more little points like that that a real plumber knows that I don't.

  13. #13
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coach606

    2) The toilet becomes loose and starts rocking / leaking: Get out a wrench and carefully retighten the flange bolts. Pack them with plumbers putty, too. Or use plastic shims. These are all very easy fixes and they can happen even with a great plumber who probably won't shoot out of bed our duck out of a big job to put a plastic shim under your toilet..
    Plumbers putty should not be used on any part of a toilet instalation other than under the nut caps.

    Quote Originally Posted by coach606
    3) Tank to bowl connection starts leaking: There's again a bolt there with a gasket. Just tighten it carefully. Don't overtighten it or you'll crack the porcelain..
    Some are to be tightened all the way some don't. You need to know which your dealing with.

    Quote Originally Posted by coach606
    4) Flange bolt cracks the bowl: This probably the most likely of the problems. Just watch the guy and if you hear a crack when he tightens the bolts, say, "what was that? Did you just crack the toilet by overtightening a bolt?".


    Quote Originally Posted by coach606
    5) Supply stop starts leaking: I assume this is because the "plumber" somehow wacked it. Again, watch him do the work. If it leaks, it can be replaced fairly easily. Ask the guy who does it to check it for leaks before he leaves. Check it yourself. Wipe it dry and then run a paper towel over it to check for leaks..
    You would have to "wack" a pipe awfully hard to make it leak. The leak would likely come from dried out or egg shaped packing material. The stop may or may not need to be replaced.

    Hey, I'm just a homeowner who does occassional plumbing on his own house. So make your decision however you want. There are benefits to hiring a pro at $150 a toilet and benefits to saving money on something that is probably an easy job for anyone with a little plumbing experience UNLESS YOU ALREADY HAVE A PROBLEM with the toilet or shower.

    Good luck with your choice.[/QUOTE]

  14. #14

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    I also learned after hiring many contractors that all the reputable ones will carry liability insurance and will be ready to show proof of it to you. I take that as one sign of many that he is not a 'hack'.

    That being said, I also cut costs and hire hacks every now and then - but only if I'm prepared to deal with the consequences of a botched job on my own.

    - p
    (important note: I'm not a pro)

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    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    Wow, I have changed out a couple toilets and I am embarassed to say it but there are things here I had not thought about before. I am of course paranoid as all heck so after any of the toilet work I check at 1,2,3,and 4 weeks in the crawl space for any signs of water, leaks under the subfloor.
    I do see your point with the pro though. I work in IT and I have been billed out (not paid, but billed out by my company) at $200/hr. there are guys who do it themselves, or hire someone MUCH cheaper. I spend a lot of time redoing their work too.
    I would also be careful on the homeowners. From what I hear they can/will frequently use water damage claims as a reason to drop someone and blacklist them. Mind you that is not from personal experience, just from news articles and message boards.

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