Contractor pricing (quick respons appreciated!)

s8thrdJuly 26, 2013


I would appreciate hearing others' experience regarding purchasing bathroom fixtures when working with a contractor. Our contractor has a bath showroom that they prefer to work with. But, because we weren't finding quite what we wanted, we went around to other showrooms also. At all the other showrooms, when giving pricing, they asked if we were working with a contractor, and, when we said yes, they reduced the pricing 20% -- contingent on the contractor working with them. With the seller our contractor actually works with, we get charged full list price, and our contractor pockets the difference.

Have others paid list price, or a reduced price, in purchasing bathroom fixtures for a renovation using a contractor? Is there any way we can handle this to get the reduced price? Or are we stuck?

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What does your contract state for the pricing?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:45AM
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Well you would have to read the terms of your contract. I myself would want to have the fixtures I like, not to be limited by the contractor.

So they will 'give' you a 20% discount if your contractor..... What a bunch of crap. If you can, skip the sales people (middle men) and sales tax. Buy the fixtures on the .net

Many places even have free shipping. Save your time and gas.

I am in the process of remodeling our master bath. I've purchased everything on line (bath tub, faucets, vanity, electrical, toilet).

This post was edited by Geoffrey_B on Fri, Jul 26, 13 at 12:15

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Our contract doesn't state anything about pricing. It says that we are responsible for the fixtures. The pricing is whatever the seller charges us. Except that, with this seller, the amount that is on their involce to the contractor, and that we are required to pay, is not the contractor's actual price.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 12:18PM
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"It says that we are responsible for the fixtures."

I suggest you google the model # and name of fixtures you are considering and find out what they are selling for on the net.

I've used efaucets and faucetdirect for all the faucets in my home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Faucet Direct

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Sophie Wheeler

So, you order from the contractor's supplier and pay list (and he gets his 20%) or you order from some internet site that may or may not ship you the correct thing, and the contractor still charges you his standard 20% markup on top of the materials. Sounds like a no brainer to me to be able to have a local point of contact.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 3:20PM
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"or you order from some internet site that may or may not ship you the correct thing,"

I guess when you don't have a logical arguement you can use fear?

Of the 1000's of items I have bought online - I can only recall one instance of being shipped the wrong item.

"Sounds like a no brainer to me to be able to have a local point of contact."

Have you ever visited a site like Faucet Direct? - they have the installation instructions / spec sheets / product reviews by real customers.

That's more than you'll get from most sales people.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 4:23PM
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I appreciate the responses! But, I'm not sure people are quite understanding.

The issue is that most of the bath supply showrooms/sellers we visited asked us if we were working with a contractor, and quoted us discounted prices in that case; that is, they seemed to assume that contractor discounts would be passed through to us. But, in our actual experience with our contractor and the showroom/seller he sent us to, that is not the case. We received a price sheet in which we are charged full manufactuer's list for everything, not the amount our contractor actually pays. We were surprised by this.

It seems that our options are to: (1) buy online and/or through Home Depot and pay less money, but then we're on our own re deliveries and any problems. Or (2) see if one of the local sellers who quoted us contractor discounts will give them to us even if they don't bill though the contractor (though, IF we could do this, it would still leave us on our own in dealing with them). Or (3) try to see if we can work out something with our contractor (which we have actually just started on). Or (4) just suck it up and pay the list pricing, which makes the project cost about $1000 higher than it would be if we were paying the prices we had expected (and money is rather tight).

To get a sense of where we stand, I was trying to get a sense of what the norm was; what have other people experienced? Were contractor discounts passed on to you when buying fixtures etc. for a project with a contractor? Or did you pay suggested retail for everything? Or what?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 4:41PM
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I don't know if it's standard but the only time we used a contractor it was use his preferred Kitchen showroom or we were on our own. That showroom had nothing we really liked and priced out cabinets that would not even be enough to fill the kitchen to plan. We bought them on our own and actually got a better price even without a stated contractor's discount. It is a pain to wait to take the delivery but if it means you get what you want then I think it's worth it to do it on your own. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 4:51PM
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I think you are complicating the situation. Your contract says you are responsible to supply the fixtures - so get them anywhere you want. Forget the contractor and that 20% contractor discount crap - it's dishonest!

Millions of people buy plumbing supplies on the NET

"but then we're on our own re deliveries and any problems"

You are on your own anyway. It's a false sense of security to think the 'local' people will do something for you.

The manufacturer warranties the products not the showroom. As far as deliveries - you can get it delivered anywhere you want.

If you really want to buy locally, find the best price on the NET, and ask the showroom to match it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I don't think you're understanding standard contractor pricing. If your contractor gets a discount at a local showroom, and then charges you list, you're paying the standard contractor markup for the fixtures. If you buy and supply the fixtures, he'll still charge you the standard markup over the price you pay. You pay a 20% contractor markup on the fixtures regardless. One way or another.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Thanks to all who have responded!

hollysprings: I'm confused. I don't understand how the contractor can charge me a markup on fixtures I buy elsewhere and supply myself. The contract price for his services is set, and the contractor cannot bill me beyond the contract price unless we change the scope of work.

Or, are you saying that the showroom would charge me the markup if I buy the items myself? That appears to be the case, although I'm not sure every seller is so firm on that.

I understand that I would be paying the standard contractor markup. But, some showrooms were quoting me the discounted contractor price, and seemed to assume that the discount would be passed on to me. (If they thought I would be paying $1,000 for an item, I don't think they would quote me a contractor price of $800. They very clearly took the list price in their book and applied the discount.) This is part of the reason why I'm confused.

GeoffreyB, Yes I think we will end up buying some items online. But, I'm leery of doing this for some bulky items especially, which also tend to be big-ticket items. For example, a bathtub. What if something's wrong with it? I don't know what happens, but I know I'll be totally on my own. (And the delivery costs may negate the savings.) Still, it's hard to swallow paying, for example, $490 for a toilet that is $318 at Home Depot. I'm definitely willing to pay more for service and convenience, but there are limits.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:27PM
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"For example, a bathtub. What if something's wrong with it?"

I bought a Kohler tub online. With $100 shipping it was cheaper than locally - and no sales tax (here 7%).

I arranged for the carrier to deliver it at 3:30 (so I just went home from work an hour early). The truck has a lift gate, tub is on a pallet, he wheels it into my garage with a pallet jack.

The tub is fully boxed - you open it and inspect it. If it's dammaged - refuse it. That's it.

We did the same with the vanity.

BTW - buy a Toto toilet.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:37PM
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My GC does not charge above the cost if we buy through him. But I found it easier to find what I wanted and source it myself. I used one place for all my plumbing stuff. They had prices comparable to authorized online sellers. Because I was placing a decent size order, I felt comfortable asking if they would consider matching an authorized dealer sale price, or work with me on some accessories, or if I could purchase at contractor pricing if my GC picked up the order. They offered me the contractor pricing, which was below what authorized sellers online advertised.

Before you buy online, make sure the warranty will be honored. I know Franke, Grohe, and some others only honor sales from authorized sites. If that's the case for the brands you are looking at then make sure you compare authorized online dealers to local prices.

I was a bit miffed about contractor pricing at first. Then I started thinking about it more. For one, more sales at a lower margin over time can be better than your one individual sale, plus an established business relationship is more predictable. Then there's also less time on their side. The contractor will not need any guidance on install, or troubleshooting, or repair. They sell to your contractor, he handles all the consumer interaction outside the product selection. In my case, I went in with all my model numbers and options selected and written down for a price. So no sales pitch needed. And I had a GC involved, so they knew someone experienced was handling install and spec questions/issues.

It looks like you can either pay your GC to handle everything and be on the hook for problems by paying retail at his supplier, or you can save the markup, but then you are responsible for making sure everything is ordered and arrives on time. I think your choice will be based on if you want to get involved in that way or not.

I took that on for all the fixtures/cabinets/lighting/floor/cabinets/etc for our kitchen/powder room. If you're organized, can pick things out on your own, and are able to work far enough ahead to account for any lead time and shipping needed, then it's not that difficult. If you don't have the time or interest in organizing those purchases, then you need to pay your GC to do that for you in the form of his markup.

My GC was thrilled I picked everything out for this project, and our previous bath remodel. I did all the research, located the items, and paid for them all at the supplier. He just had to pick them up. Saved him a lot of time, and he didnt have to make decisions or find out he had the wrong model/color/style.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:39PM
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Thanks for the feedback.

I should note that we HAVE been doing everything on our own, in terms of researching and picking out everything, dealing with complicated situations and trying to figure out whether things will work together (technically, not just aesthetically) etc., with very little contractor help (despite the fact that there are times that we could have used some), which is one reason why I'm not happy about now paying this big markup to the contractor.

I was unaware of the warranty issue; thanks.

Some items we picked out are available only through local dealers -- the manufacturers won't permit online sales -- but it looks like we will be shifting some of our purchases online.

(Re Toto: Bought one five years ago and would NOT buy one again.)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 12:45AM
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When I did my bathroom, they gave me contractor pricing even though I paid cash in store... (my contractor never met with them or anything). I have no idea why they do this silly game, but I think you are over complicating this whole thing.

Just ask them what their price is. If you have an invoice with a contractor price, walk in and say you are ready to pick up your product and pay your invoice. End of story. It really probably doesn't matter to them (or, it didn't in my case.)

I found this to be true for lighting and plumbing supply stores.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 1:43AM
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In this day and age if you ask most supply houses will;pass along contractor pricing due to the fact that the box stores and online store exist and they know they will lose the sale otherwise. And it has been stated on here many times but if purchasing items at Lowes, HD or any box store make certain of what your getting as all are not created equal.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Thanks. If I make no headway with the contractor I will see if another seller will give me the contractor pricing even though they are billing me and not the contractor.

(Kirkhall: I'm not sure what I am complicating. I do not have an invoice with the contractor price. I have an invoice with manufacturer's suggested list prices. That's the whole point. As for "asking what their price is," the contractor's seller quotes me list prices. But other sellers ask me if I am working with a contractor and then quote me (verbally) contractor prices. Some have stated clearly up-front that they will only invoice the contractor price to the contractor, not to me. But some were a little fuzzier so I may make headway with one.)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 12:36PM
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our deal with our contractor is: if he supplies the item--vanity, fixtures, whatever...there is a 10% GC fee. He told me I would be supplying all the fixtures--faucets, shower (no larger items --tub or toilet). He did not want to be involved with those items--I'd get on my own where ever I wanted, no GC fee. I priced at a "wholesale" place near me that gives 20%below list, and if I bought "a lot" she could give me a better deal. I went home shopped on line, and found prices at efaucets, and faucetdirect at 10-12%lower-free shipping, no sales tax. That's a no brainer for me--but remember, online sales really can't help you answer questions about products, I have been making calls to the manufacturers directly to answer any sales questions.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 8:24AM
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At the end of the day - the price is the price is the price.

A specific faucet has a set list price and it has a variable " market" price that changes depending on the geographic location, place your buying from, and a few other factors.

The "contractor discount" is pretty much a car salesman game to make the weak minded feel better about spending their cash. Home Depot pretty much eliminated the discount two decades ago. You should be shopping for the best price delivered to your site that you can.

One reason efaucets and similar are cheaper is because they have lower paid order takers than a plumbing showroom. That showroom has more expensive overhead in rent, taxes, displays ect...

What are all the wishy-washy undecided people supposed to do when they can't go in and touch and feel that faucet or "see" how big that sink is because they forgot how to use a tape measure? eFaucets is going to be zero help in those cases. That extra cost for an item pays for stuff like that.

Again, shop for the best price you can on the item you want. Don't wrack you brain over this discount or that markup or freebie this or that.

Service costs money, and markup should not be confused with profit , and neither has anything to do with value, which is assessed different weights depending on the individual shopping.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:05PM
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If you do buy online, you may have already mentioned it, but I recommend you call the customer service line for the manufacturer of each fixture you purchase on line and ask them for any special info or tips about parts.

Wish I would have done this for my Toto washlet. We need an extra valve because I have a wall mounted toilet for the washlet to fit. Not a lot of money but it is a delay in our schedule waiting for the part after we talked to Toto ( where I purchased the washlet wasn't helpful, they just told me to call Toto which was probably right but would have taken less time had we just gone straight to Toto in the beginning). Could have been worse, I guess.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:34PM
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I am a contractor. I share my discount with my clients. Not the full discount but part of it. Here is an example of actual problems that occured on a high end job with high end fixtures. A tub was ordered and came damaged. I coordinated the repair of the tub which took about 2 hours of my time between jobsite visits and phone calls. A tub filler came with a defective part, again more conversations with the plumber, phone calls to technical support, shipping coordination, etc. to get it fixed. The wrong sinks were delivered to the jobsite and had to be reboxed and reordered. Of course since I am making a profit on the plumbing I took care of correcting all these issues. If you are buying your own plumbing, then these are now your problems. If plumbing you purchased is defective and leaks onto expensive cabinetry, or through the ceiling, this is now your problem. If you delay my schedule because of these problems, this is now costing me money. That is why many contractors charge a mark up for plumbing even though the homeowner purchases it elsewhere. Plumbing, especially for showers with multiple water sources can be very complicated. I would not recommend purchasing it online. If your plumber shows up to rough in the plumbing and you do not have the correct valve, etc. he will not be too happy as this mistake is now costing him money. If it is a simple project, it might be worth saving a few bucks, but for a larger project, why take these risks?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 10:06AM
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