Why would GC put in Delta valves when we specified Kohler???

Bridget HelmApril 16, 2014

I posted this over in plumbing, but there is more action over here. I'm feeling quite impatient at this point.

I am serving as the designer to the homeowners for a renovation guest house project. The house is around 25 years old. They have hired me to make most of the decisions. However, they have specified all Kohler plumbing from the very beginning.

For the shower downstairs we specified Kohler Pinstripe cross handle handheld showerhead and valve trim in Polished Nickel. For the shower upstairs, we specified Kohler Memoirs Cross handle valve trim in vibrant brushed bronze with a matching Kohler handheld and rain tile. This was given to the GC as well as his office manager in a spreadsheet with the model numbers in DECEMBER at his office manager's request.

Today I met with GC to discuss cabinets etc., and during a walk through of one of the bathrooms, he nonchalantly told me that the plumber had to put in Delta valves due to water pressure, and that I'd have to pick out a Delta valve trim for the downstairs bath and a Delta trim and diverter for upstairs, but not to worry because the finishes are the same. So, I took it in stride until I got to the Delta showroom.

The lines of the Kohler pinstripe faucets do not coordinate with any of the Delta or Brizo collections at all. I am also worried about Kohler's vibrant brushed bronze not matching with Delta's champagne bronze.

Can you give me any reason as to why the GC would have HAD to use Delta valves?? Is he lying about the pressure? I can't tell you how many hours I have put into the faucet selections from the drain to the supply elbow. They coordinate with these moroccan beams that go across the ceiling and with the lines of other elements in the house. We chose a gorgeous New Ravenna stone mosaic that is $100/sf to go up one entire bathroom wall. The faucets coordinate with the lines of the mosaic.

It's not just some plain old house. It has a presence with 20 foot wood windows and grand solid arched beams supporting the roof and wide cedar planked walls and ceilings with 2 wet bars and a 7 foot wide fireplace. It is a grand, beautiful home and the homeowners want the best. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to coordinate such a home with owners that want and can afford top of the line. Thus, I'm really upset that the builder threw this wrench in the plan today.

Am I overreacting? Because of the type of house it is and because the owners specified Kohler, I don't think I am. The problem is, I don't know how to fix it. Can the plumber take out the Delta valves and replace them with Kohler valves? Is there really a water pressure issue, that only Delta valves can "solve"?

This GC is supposed to be one of the best in town, but I feel like I'm being swindled by him.

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Maybe because Delta is 1/100th the price of the Kohler and he didn't read the specs when he bid? If there is a pressure problem with the plumbing, then a pressure reducing valve for the whole home should be installed. All bath fixtures are designed to handle standard home plumbing pressures.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:43PM
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It could be that the plumber put the Delta valves in by mistake. Perhaps your GC didn't specify Kohler to him and now is trying to back pedal. Call your GC and let him know that it isn't going to be to your satisfaction to use the Delta finish. See where the conversation goes.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:28PM
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I agree. If there is a pressure issue, they need to explain why they are trying to fix it at the level of the valve and not at the level of water main.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:18PM
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What the GC is saying about the water pressure is BS!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:21PM
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I don't know what it is but I've never had a plumber who did work for me or for my clients for whom I've done baths who like Kohler.

I've almost always specified it (one client wanted Delta anyway) and I've never had a problem with any Kohler I've installed but they all swear they have problems with Kohler and callbacks. This is not my direct experience.

I wonder if they did it accidentally on purpose in your case.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:25PM
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Bridget Helm

Price has nothing to do with it. The homeowners knew that one faucet by Koehler can run 700 bucks. I tried to talk them into using other brands for some things to save a few bucks, but they said they don't care about the price.

I thought Koehler was high end, so I don't understand how it can stay high end if it's not high quality???

Either way, I just wanted to make sure that I was getting BS from the GC before I approach him about it. I hope it goes well. I'm not assertive at all, but it has to be addressed. :(

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:57PM
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It *may* be possible that you have specified so many "fixtures" on the single valve that the resultant water pressure for all the running fixtures would be too low with your chosen valve.

For example (since I am not a plumber, I am sure my last sentence made sense to very few)--

You have picked out a fixture and valve to operate 5 body sprays and an overhead rainshower, simultaneously; but the valve for your valve trim is only a 1/2" supply. That would not be enough supply to be sufficient for all operating fixtures on that valve. Make sense? Maybe it needs a 3/4" supply, minimum.

(I am not saying this is the case, but make sure it isn't before you get confrontational).

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 8:17PM
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kirk......That 'should' have been speced by the plumber from the very beginning on what size line to run to specific fixtures. That's the job of the GC to explain in detail to the plumber on all the fixtures and the plumber 'should' know what size lines they need. That's not really the 'pressure' but 'volume'.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:23PM
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Ok. I get that (pressure v. volume). I just wonder if the GC short-handed it when telling the OP.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:10PM
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The way I look at it, the GC is not a plumber so s/he has to depend on what the plumber says....but in this case....one of them is lying or stupid or it's all BS.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:21PM
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When we were owner/builders of our house 7 years ago, every plumber we talked to wanted to use Delta or Moen. FWIW, when I asked one of them why (we had wanted Kohler), he said because if anything goes wrong, it takes too long to get parts. Don't know if this is true, or not, but we went with Delta since we were behind schedule.

If I were the person you are working for, had told you that money is no object, and specified Kohler from the beginning, I would be really irritated if you came back to me and said that the plumber or GC had put in something else. It's up to you to be assertive with the GC to get what your customer wants. That's part of what they're paying you for.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Bridget Helm

It can't be that it's too many bells and whistles.

One shower has only one shower head (can be used as a handheld or left on arm/elbow as standard overhead shower). So that's only one item spraying water.

The other shower has a rain head and a hand held. So that's 2 items spraying water.

Today I told the GC that I was having trouble coordinating the Delata finish and lines/shape with the Kohler faucets. I asked if the valve trims and diverter had to ABSOLUTELY be Delta or brizo. He said to ask the pluming supply warehouse salesperson if there were other options. He said it absolutely has to connect to 1/2" supply hoses.

Of course, i go to pluming store with my 2 year old in two and am told that all salespeople are busy. I wait 30 minutes and am told to call with my question. I'm so irritated!

Anyway, i though the 1/2" hose thing was interesting.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Nobody punch me if I'm offending, but...many years ago my parents built their house, contracting the workers from their family commercial construction company. The parents wanted Kohler, but could not because it was not, at that time at least, a union shop, and Dad's workers were all union. Could this still be the case, or backlash?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 5:09PM
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This should be a short conversation. If the specifications in your contract call out the fixtures to be used that's what should be used unless there is a change order signed by you and the GC changing the specification. It's not a matter for discussion or negotiation after the fact.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 5:33PM
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I think he ordered it wrong and is telling you something to smooth it over. This happens a lot. He is trying to save the work re-doing it and charge the same since they are all similar quality. My 2 cents. I doubt it is much more complicated than back pedaling after a mistake.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 9:02PM
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I'm not sure what you mean by valves but if they are the shower mixing valves, the Delta valves are usually in stock so perhaps someone forgot to order the Kohler valves in time.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Legally homeowner only entitled to a difference in price between kohler - delta. This is not a material breach of contract.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:07AM
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Well, shifrby, it probably comes down to what the contract says. When I write a contract it's explicit that the specifications are to be followed, there is no provision to allow the contractor to put in whatever his brother-in-law has on hand and then slightly adjust the price. Some items where I have no strong preference I specify an example and add "or equivalent" to let the contractor choose. If I've ordered a Mercedes and the I'm given a Yugo and a refund I'm not going to be happy!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:58AM
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@shifrby: "Legally homeowner only entitled to a difference in price between kohler - delta. This is not a material breach of contract."

Where did you get that twisted, incorrect info? And then to broadcast it with authority?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:19PM
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My local "high" end plumbing supply store does not carry Kohler ... they consider it more mid level. Also Kohler isn't the same company from 15+ years ago, very few (if any) of their faucets are made in the USA. The quality is not the same and the plumbing store complained about lack of parts and consistency. I had used Kohler 14 years ago and was happy with the products back then. When I started planning a bath remodel my first instinct was to look at Kohler, but based on the research I did, I decided not to use their products this time around.

You need to look at the contract to make sure that the plumbing fixtures were indeed spelled out or that there is some written evidence that this was discussed. Don't let the GC bully you. Where are the owners in all this? If they expect you to act as the "owner" for them, then you need to act like it and tell the GC to cut the BS.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 1:03PM
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>Where did you get that twisted, incorrect info? And then to broadcast it with authority?

Not every breach of contract is a "breach" ( material breach). It is a jurisdictional issue...

But contractor gave him his opinion because of "pressure". May be this opinion is wrong but you would have to prove that he knew it was wrong and was acting in bad faith.

He appears to state that he installed different faucet in the interest of the customer. Because he is aware of danger of "pressure" and the Kohler would not function properly, so he install Delta. Functionality is the same and finish is nearly identical.

Opinion was supplied by his all reliable plumber.

In addition contract could have like clauses as well.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Ah, everybody's a lawyer!

(Misinterpreted right from Wiki.)

Unless the gc can show some difference in specs that you find convincing--and I seriously doubt it--you should insist on what you chose. And put it in writing if worse comes to worst.

And take a course on assertiveness. The full-time designers I've met are absolutely imperious!

This post was edited by worthy on Sat, Apr 19, 14 at 10:57

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:56AM
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Sophie Wheeler

If you are acting as the designer and project manager, then you have a responsibility to make sure that the client gets what they selected, even if it comes out of your pocket to get it fixed. That's all part of being a licensed professional. You ARE licensed and insured as is required, correct?

Here is a link that might be useful: Louisiana State Board of Interior Designers

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 12:24PM
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holly.....why in the world would this come out of the designers pocket when the GC was TOLD in writing WITH the actual model numbers?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Because the "designer" appears to lack the backbone to approach the GC about the issue, and if I were the homeowner and what I paid for and specified was not installed and the "designer" could not get me what I paid for the "designer" would pay for it one way or another.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Sophie Wheeler

If the ''designer'' was hired to specify and oversee the project, the buck stops there. The clients expect to get what they signed off on, and it's up to the ''designer'' to rip the GC a new one or even fire him and engage a new GC. The clients are the victims here. They have cause to take the ''designer'' to court if they desired to do so. If they register a complaint, this individual is not only liable for the damages against the clients, but also state fines for practicing a profession without being licensed to do so. It's in her best interest to suck it up and make what has to happen, happen, even if it costs her. It's a cheap lesson.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:33PM
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Why is it necessary to bash the designer and question their licensing? And why the quotes 'designer'. If he/she said they are a designer, then take it at face value.

It also doesn't matter if Kohler is high end or not, its no more/less high end than Delta. Its what the client asked for.

I do agree that the designer needs to get the GC to fix this- the client should get Kohler finishes, since that is what they specified. Unfortunately, I don't think the Delta 'rough in' will work with the Kohler trims. Has there been tile work already completed? If not, its not such a HUGE deal to rip out the rough and re-do it according to the specs. Its what the plumber should have done to begin with...the GC should have plans/details passed out to every sub- that's what the client is paying the GC for.

After the GC agrees to fix it, the designer can also come clean with the client (tell them the GC screwed up) and show them Delta- who knows- they may prefer it. This way the client has the final say.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:32AM
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Bridget Helm

I am not licensed. They have seen my work for friends and family friends and asked me to do this for them. There are no contracts.

Anyhow, I was not going to make a decision without first asking them what they wanted. They told me that they wanted Kohler but didn't want to slow down the process, so if it was a hassle then they'd accept Delta.

I then told the GC that I couldn't live with mismatched faucets. I asked how big of a deal would it be for the plumber to switch the valves to Kohler. He said none at all. We can switch them. Lol! So all of this stressing for 2 days, and he then says it's no big deal. But I promise you that at the meeting he said I HAD to find Delta. I think he was trying to avoid the switch, but once he saw how much it bothered me, he was willing to fix it. Too bad I didn't fuss about it initially at the meeting. I usually digest before reacting because that avoids impulsive words or actions, but in this case, it would have done me better to react immediately. Oh well, lesson learned!

As far as reputation goes, it's just as important to get along with the contractors, architects, and store reps as it is to get along with the homeowners. I was determined to keep both happy. The contractor still "likes" me and the homeowners are getting Kohler. All is well!

Thanks for all of your advice!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:25PM
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When we bid out a bathroom remodel the contractor told us to pick Delta or Moen. He refused to even consider Kohler due to its lower quality.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:01PM
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Jack Kennedy

Holly Springs, In NC, you do not need a licensee to be an interior designer, decorator, interior architect, etc. Only Architects and Engineers are licensed. Only about 1/2 of the states in the USA require interiors professionals to be licensed. I know because I'm fighting for multiple states to make it so that you do have to be.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:01AM
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"When we bid out a bathroom remodel the contractor told us to pick Delta or Moen. He refused to even consider Kohler due to its lower quality."

This is the type of statement that contractors and plumbers make that I don't understand.

I look at a lot of real estate and as a designer I tend to look at some things very specifically. Every relatively inexpensive spec house, every inexpensive tract house my sister has owned or rented, every flipped house, every on-the-tight-budget bath renovation my non-design friends do:

Delta, Delta, Delta, Delta, Moen, Deltadeltadeltadelta.

The two pre-sale bathrooms done to put the house I recently bought onto the market without spending an extra penny:

So here I am picking new fixtures to replace a two year old bathroom and a five year old bathroom where I can pull the Delta faucets apart with my hands, and my plumber is telling me that Delta is so much better than Kohler.

I realize that there are different levels of quality within brands but still, Delta being superior to everything else has not been my experience.

I simply think part of it is that they only like working with what they work with all the time.

My current plumber, who is a great plumber who does tidy work and loves talking about plumbing on a higher plane, almost, he's not a sloppy git her done kind of guy, says he will not put in Toto skirted toilets because they all leak.

Having had Toto skirted toilets and having spec'd Toto skirted toilets for other people, none of which have leaked, leads me to believe that when HE puts them in they leak, because he Doesn't Know How to install them very well.

That's fine, I will probably Not put a Toto skirted toilet in this house because I don't want white. But why not say "I don't like installing Toto toilets, so if you want one you will have to get someone to do that part of the job." Not "They are not worth the money" or "they are a bad product".

I used to be in another business, and there were some things that were really outside my expertise, or I did not do that well compared to some people and I would Tell the client "This is something I would refer you to someone else for" not "This is a lousy product/procedure" just because I couldn't do it that well.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 9:08PM
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I agree with the comments above. I think plumbers like Delta because they are familiar with it, and because they can easily get the PARTS to fix them when they brake.

I had a huge disagreement with my licensed, expensive plumber (who I no longer use) when I remodeled my bath a few years ago. After research on this site, I found a great hansgrohe Thermostatic shower valve (which I love, BTW- temp is always preset, just turn the value to turn on pressure) and he argued with me that he'd never seen that before and never heard of that brand before. He put it in, but said that if we ever had a problem with it, not to call him- he refused to warranty it. He said Delta was the best because he could get parts and knew exactly how to fix them.

I have a similar problem with my framer who 'doesn't like' Integrity windows because he had a really bad experience years ago with getting a replacement repair. After prodding, it wasn't that he thought the windows were bad, its that he deals with Andersen and Pella all the time, and they come right out if there was a problem. Not the case with the local Integrity distributor (years ago, when he had the issue).

P.S. I won't use Kohler bath fixtures in my new build because of MY OWN bad experience (so we all behave this way sometimes, LOL). I have a very pretty Kohler Archer toilet, that has needed both new handles (plastic interior wore out) and new rubber seal, and still has mystery phantom flushing issues. Its not even 3 years old. My 30 year old 'old school' American Standard toilet has never need ANYTHING replaced. They've since changed the single flush canister again to something "new and better". New house will have toilets with old school flappers!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 7:46AM
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Maybe I did it because I just didn't know any better...but DH and I are GCing our build and we chose some Danze fixtures for our master bath. Not because of any reviews or any thing I heard or read about them but because I thought they were pretty and they were on sale. When I bought them (the shower trim and roman tub trim), I also bought the valves that go with them and had them on site for the plumber. Our plumber had nothing to say about it one way or another. Every specialty plumbing store in our area had the needed valves in stock, whether they carried Danze fixtures or not. Up to this point, I had never heard of this brand. I think the issue might be that plumbers keep a truck bed full of Delta valves and probably get an even better price break on them by buying in bulk. I didn't know it but my plumber told me that part of his bid included providing the valves for my fixtures. He just happended to be honest and gave us a credit for providing the valves ourselves. Those valves cost quite a bit more than a standard Delta valve. Just food for thought.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Ditto the replacement parts. My plumber likes Moen and Delta because the quality control is good, warranty help is excellent, and parts are easy to come by. He definitely doesn't refer to them as high end at all. Middle of the road and good bang for the buck.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 4:17PM
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