Plumber's time - should this be taking so long

lotteryticketJanuary 31, 2014

We are in the middle of a bathroom remodel. DHs friend is a plumber and DH always likes to give his friends work. This rarely ends up well for us, but that's another story.

This remodel is a total gut job, down to the studs. ALL plumbing had to be moved around: relocated toilet, tub, shower and vanity. So I expected this would take a fair amount of time. But he has been here for 7 full days and the plumbing is still only roughed in. No connections have been made to any of the shower or faucet fixtures.

To top it off we now have NO hot water in the small bathroom we have been using during the construction. There was some warm water last night but this morning only cold. We DO have hot water everywhere else in the house. This small bathroom shares a wall (with plumbing) with the one currently being remodeled.

I guess I have two questions...

Does this seem like a reasonable amount of time?
What could cause the hot water issue in the other bath?

If anyone has any ideas/experience it would be helpful to hear so I know if I am dealing with an incompetent plumber.

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Are the fixture rough ins installed? In my experience, once the rough ins are in place the actual fixtures are easy to install. Your plumber had to remove all the old plumbing too, right? I would guess a day to remove, 2-3 days to get things back together? I am trying to remember how my plumber worked. Once he got going, he got all the pipes in place for the redo in a day. The toilet waste line and drains in another day. Then there are the exhaust stacks that might take a day. But my plumber is kind of in and out so it's hard to tell what time he would have used, if he was there full time. But I don't think he would have taken 7 days. He did take my shower rough-in setup to construct at his shop, and brought it back to install into the wall. I would guess he spent a few hours on that at his shop then installing it in my wall was about an hour.

Slightly off topic, because this is a fixture, my toilet took a long time to install. The rough in was already done and the water intake was already set. It took about 3-4 hours, if I remember, to get that toilet set. It was a skirted toilet that had a special mounting system. I minimally helped with some of the installation. The toilet skirted side-mounting holes for the bolts were off alignment on the skirt. One side didn't ling up with the inner porcelain wall. I luckily had a wet bit that we could correct that flaw. The whole thing went in eventually but not quickly.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Rough in happens, then the walls go back up, then the waterproofing and tile can start. Not sure why you'd expect the fixtures would be installed before any of the finish surfaces get installed.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Hi Enduring & Hollysprings,
I wasn't expecting him to be done by now. I just didn't expect the rough in to take him nearly 50 hours. Not that I want him to rush but he charges $125/hr. So this has now cost us nearly $7K. That's more than 1/3 of the total budget. Yikes. We are not ready for the fixture installation as we are afraid to cover up the walls until we know what's going on with the lack of hot water.

It's so weird. You can just get a quick shower in before the hot water runs out. When you turn the shower off and wait a couple of minutes you get another dose of hot water before it runs out again. And there's no hot water in the sink. Since the existing bathroom shares a wall with the bathroom under construction I am concerned that something is screwed up that only allows a bit of the hot water through.

I have a call in to him. I hope we don;t have to rip up the floor and shower pan that just went in this week.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:50PM
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I think this is the problem....It's a closed loop, hot and cold mixing. I found it when I moved a sheet of plywood leaning up against the wall. A small nuisance but easily fixed. Phew. Thanks, guys!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Real plumbers charge by the job, not by the hour, unless they run into some unknowns behind the wall. Then only that part is time and materials. He's taking advantage of you because of the friendship. And this is why you don't hire family and friends. It rarely turns out well.

You should terminate his services. Now, before the plumbing bill encompasses your entire budget. And fire your DH from project management too while you are at it.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:27PM
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LOL, live wire. I've never been able to talk DH out of hiring his friends. Every time it has not turned out well. I really have been digging in my heels on this job and got an electrician on my own. The plumber is also the town inspector so this could get hairy but I will have him back to fix the crossed lines (on his dime) and then he's done. I literally have had to argue with him over how to do the shower, where to put the tub, even the faucets and shower head. I told him when he starts paying my mortgage he can do it his way.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:38PM
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You go Girl!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:04PM
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For your reference:

We hired a contractor for two remodeling projects, guest bathroom and master bathroom. He charged $3070 for master bathroom plumbing work that included "relocate waste & water supply, installed new slab flush with finish for at tub area (note: we had a huge, deep garden tub, it was filled with concrete). Install shower drain, one standard shower valve with diverter, one Rain shower head, one handshower, two sinks, two sets of faucets, one new toilet, grundfos circulator pump at water heater". He charged $2140 for guest bathroom plumbing work that included "move toilet location, install toilet, one sink, one shower drain, one handshower, standard shower valve with diverter."

We are extremely happy with their work, every aspect of the two remodeling projects is solid, perfect and outstanding. We will hire them for all of our future remodeling projects.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:08AM
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Make sure you get good pictures of all the plumbing and electrical before you start closing up the walls. Always good for future reference.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Lotteryticket, I have redone my own condo, townhouse, and multiple rentals in expensive areas in the Northeast, as well as down in FL. I had done it in new houses, as well as in 100 yrs old houses that had to be gutted to the studs, 2 or 3 floor, move toilet, etc. I have never heard of any plumber charging for that by the hour. To the contrary, they always charge by the project. All the tradespeople that I have used or solicited offers, electricians/masons/plumbers/roofers/painters, always charge by project. Tradespeople charge by the hour when I get someone to repair something or do small repairs/install light fixtures, handyman etc. This guy is taking advantage of you, big time. $7000 is too expensive for what is being done, and I always use licensed, master technician, get a receipt, an do not hire based on lowest price but on best work/referral.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:34AM
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Thank you all for your responses. I called a plumber we used for our laundry room a few years ago. He was efficient and we have never had one problem. He's coming out on Wednesday to quote on finishing up. I spoke to the other plumber last night. He was actually pretty calm about the whole thing and has agreed not to charge us for all the hours he spent. I was pretty firm that there is no way this should take so long. There is also an alternate town inspector that HAS to inspect our job since the guy we WERE using can't inspect his own.

I hate confrontation but I feel so much better.

Thanks, again. You guys are the best!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:01AM
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So glad to hear!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:57AM
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Thanks for posting this. I was feeling quite badly for you, even spoke to my DH and sorry, but used your situation to try and make him feel better about ours! (mea culpa). He said it didn't help! LOL

We have been renoing for over 7 years, can't believe it's been this long, and I'm starting to feel the strain so over it! One of the good things that has come out of it though, is my ability to deal with confrontation. Like you, and I'm sure like most people it is not anything to look forward to...:>( My DH is an electrical engineer and is so capable I am lucky he can do nearly all the work required. But it is up to me to deal with any tradespeople and to get all the quotes, left to him he would just pay the bill. The only trade/quote I let him negotiate in the last 7 years was for upgrading our electrical service from 100AMPS to 200AMPS, (as that was his particular area of expertise). One day of work cost us over $3000! First and last time he arranged for anything! LOL

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:43PM
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Hi raehelen,
I hear you on the never ending remodeling. We have spent the last 10+ years in various phases of construction. I am almost numb to it now but it does wear thin. We even have an old toilet just sitting in the mud room.

I bet we both end up with some project management and negotiation skills that will come in handy in the future.

I hope the shower situation sorts itself out quickly!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 5:18PM
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