The answer probably seems obvious. Plumbing companies have the potential to be far too expensive. I agree that professional plumbing work can be very expensive, but for legitimate licensed plumbing contracting companies like ours, we do everything within our power to keep costs under control and fair to the client. The problems arise when customers try to save money by working with a plumbing contractor who does not have the proper licensing or knowledge to complete a job to the appropriate standards.
I consult with over 20 home inspection firms and often times their clients call me with questions about plumbing problems that are discovered during their home inspections. Just this week a selling party called me to find out why she would have sewage in her catch basin. The first question I asked was “Did you have a sewer back-up recently?” Her answer was no. The next question I asked was “Have you had any remodeling done recently? Maybe a basement bathroom added?” To this she responded very defensively and asked why I would ask that specifically. I shared with her that in my experience there are two reasons to have sewage in your catch basin. The first and most common reason is a backed up sewer caused by waste and paper that overflow into the basin and the second is that someone added a basement bathroom and ran the plumbing the wrong way depositing sewage in the catch basin. I thought she was going to cry. She bought this home less than a year ago as an investment and was going to have it remodeled and then put it on the market and resell it. The contractor that she hired seemed to be very honest and sincere. It wasn’t until she was well into the project that she saw some problems. The subcontractors who were there each day didn’t seem very good. Shortly thereafter she realized that even the general wasn’t very good. The problem was that by this time she had so much time and money invested that she felt she didn’t have much choice but to just finish it.
Fast forward. The contractor is long gone and her home is on the market. A very interested party has a home inspection performed and the inspector has over 20 pages of issues.
Back to the plumbing problem. This one issue of the basement bathroom going into the catch basin is likely to cost in excess of $10,000.00 to fix. The finished basement floors need to be removed, the walls need to be opened, the concrete has to be removed, excavated and poured again, and of course all this just to fix what the pseudo plumber did wrong.
This homeowner is having a hard time seeing it right now, but it could have been so much worse. If her house sold and this was discovered later, she would have been sued and surely that would have cost even more.
What’s the lesson? No one knew the plumbing was wrong: not her, not the general, and not even the pseudo plumber. Only a licensed plumber would know this. Additionally, if a “side jobber” made this mistake, he surely wouldn’t care enough to fix it, and if he is doing it “on the side” he doesn’t have the insurance or bonding to guarantee that if he screws up, it will be made right at his cost.
I feel sympathy for this homeowner and I didn’t even bill her for my diagnosis. My only hope is that in the future she is wiser in how she hires contractors. Too many of our customers have come to us after having a plumbing job botched by an unlicensed plumber who didn’t do the work properly. My goal is to help homeowners in Chicago make the right choice the first time. I’ve done this by becoming a member of The Plumbing Council of Chicagoland, a group organized to educate the public about this sort of thing.
If ever you have a question about anything in your home, plumbing or otherwise. Please just call or email me and I’ll help however I can.
Happy New Year!