Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?

 
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:02 PM   #1
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Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


I do and have done many remodels usually all with architect plans. Recently I find myself trying to bid projects without plans. I have always avoided bathrooms and recently decided not to let them go without profiting from them. Normally I would have given a copy of plans to a plumber, get a price and give an allowance for fixtures, and tile. The demo, debris, and rock are rolled onto the whole project list. What is the best way or most commen way to approach this type of work? Without plans I'm in the dark.
For example look at this scenerio: Split-level bathroom and laundry combination---slab on grade. Existing plumbing supply is present but will likely be relocated as we jack hammer the floor to rearrange this single room to 2 seperate rooms with a hall passage. Do I handle the floor in house and all needs per fixture. Like gas for dryer, water for bowl, sink and washer, drains and stand pipe for laundry, sinks and waste. Or do most guys just package these jobs in with special price plus floor work. Any advice would be helpful.
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:08 PM   #2
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Tom,

It's generally impossible to get a solid number from a plumber on a remodel without them seeing it in person. I do a lot of bathrooms and sort of know what the baseline prices are depending on the circumstances, but I can''t march 9 different subs in to get me a price before I need to send the HO the proposal, so I use averages and very strict and non-wavering contract language to cover the overages that will usually happen. You never know what you'll find in the walls once they are opened up and I let the HO know that from the get go.

I struggle with your dilemma every day of the week. It's a pain...I use the same plumber all the time and he's always looking for more money because of X, Y or Z. We bicker about it and I usually convince him that he is a crook and can't charge that much to move a pipe 2', he says I just a dumb carpenter, we have a beer and move on.

Don't even get me started on electricians! Everytime I think I know what it costs to remodel a bathroom, I'm enlightened on the rising cost of copper, some weird code, or the fact that I'm just a dumb carpenter.

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:42 PM   #3
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


I've yet to have a bathroom remodel that is drawn out for me! I'm always doing the drawings for H.O.s and helping make up their minds on materials. A lot of people want to go with my recommendations, and I think that helps me close many of my sales.

If I have a good feeling that I will get the job (remember that your first impression of the potential customer is just as important as your is to them) I will break down pricing for X Y and Z. Just be sure to give yourself adequate allowances for materials, you should know by now what your labor will be.

I will warn you ahead of time to be prepared to feel like a marriage counselor when it comes to a husband and wife agreeing on what fixtures, tiles, etc to go with. I always hate it when one of them tries to get me to take sides!

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:58 PM   #4
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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Don't even get me started on electricians! Everytime I think I know what it costs to remodel a bathroom, I'm enlightened on the rising cost of copper, some weird code, or the fact that I'm just a dumb carpenter.
so, you're the guy that every EC i know in bergen county complains about as "that dumb carpenter"?
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:19 AM   #5
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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I've yet to have a bathroom remodel that is drawn out for me! I'm always doing the drawings for H.O.s and helping make up their minds on materials. A lot of people want to go with my recommendations, and I think that helps me close many of my sales.
Yep, that's the way to do it. Never be an installer, be the creator.

Quote:
For example look at this scenerio: Split-level bathroom and laundry combination---slab on grade. Existing plumbing supply is present but will likely be relocated as we jack hammer the floor to rearrange this single room to 2 seperate rooms with a hall passage. Do I handle the floor in house and all needs per fixture. Like gas for dryer, water for bowl, sink and washer, drains and stand pipe for laundry, sinks and waste. Or do most guys just package these jobs in with special price plus floor work. Any advice would be helpful.
Local codes and licensing rules will dictate what you can and can't do, after you have your list of what you can do, then you decide how much you want to do inhouse and how much of that you want to sub.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:41 AM   #6
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Thanks Greg, My original post to why I often let these job go is exactly this game guessing costs. I know usually about where the numbers should be everytime I generalize something with ballpark numbers the argument starts with the HO or sub on just how out the ballpark the numbers are. I go through the rooms on these remodels---most of which dont have Architects drawings, I will try to lay out the electrical grid to need and request or at least to the best of my knowledge and sure enough the electrical is different from the last job whether by price or requirement. It like spinning wheels sometimes every time you think you got it figuired out dont. In regard to that other post have you ever tried to quote these plumbing jobs by a " daily rate ". Assuming for example: This job should take no longer than a day and half with a plumber and assistant. Would the thought process be I charge 500 to 600 per day a plumber maybe $ 800.00 day whats the worst case here $1600.00 and use this. Unless there is an extra or unknown any more that this not justified.
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Old 01-15-2007, 03:58 PM   #7
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Why not just sit down with your plumber or electrician and ask how he would suggest that you price his stuff? Maybe he can give you a daily rate and ideas on times to do various tasks, and you can get an idea on the cost of materials for different tasks by visiting a supply house.

As Greg said, there's always oddities that seem to make every budget you come up with a bust with plumbing and electric, but if you estimate on the high side, make sure your contracts are clear on scope, and track your actuals vs your estimateds, you'll be fine.

Bob
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Old 01-15-2007, 07:57 PM   #8
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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Tom,


I struggle with your dilemma every day of the week. It's a pain...I use the same plumber all the time and he's always looking for more money because of X, Y or Z. We bicker about it and I usually convince him that he is a crook and can't charge that much to move a pipe 2', he says I just a dumb carpenter, we have a beer and move on.

Don't even get me started on electricians! Everytime I think I know what it costs to remodel a bathroom, I'm enlightened on the rising cost of copper, some weird code, or the fact that I'm just a dumb carpenter.
Maybe your plumber and electrician aren't crooks. Maybe they are just charging what they need to in order to make a decent living. Maybe it does'nt matter to them how much someone else is charging or what the going rate is. Maybe [B]THEY[B]have to charge how much THEY NEED to make a living which depends on how long it may take THEM to do the work as well as many other variables.

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Thanks Greg, My original post to why I often let these job go is exactly this game guessing costs. I know usually about where the numbers should be everytime I generalize something with ballpark numbers the argument starts with the HO or sub on just how out the ballpark the numbers are. I go through the rooms on these remodels---most of which dont have Architects drawings, I will try to lay out the electrical grid to need and request or at least to the best of my knowledge and sure enough the electrical is different from the last job whether by price or requirement. It like spinning wheels sometimes every time you think you got it figuired out dont. In regard to that other post have you ever tried to quote these plumbing jobs by a " daily rate ". Assuming for example: This job should take no longer than a day and half with a plumber and assistant. Would the thought process be I charge 500 to 600 per day a plumber maybe $ 800.00 day whats the worst case here $1600.00 and use this. Unless there is an extra or unknown any more that this not justified.
Surely you are saying you will mark up your plumbers price by 500 to 600 per plumber per day?
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Old 01-16-2007, 07:31 AM   #9
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


I wish and Im sure everyone wishes on this thread they can automatical add-on 500-600 for these trades and make money. The point is these trades get whatever they want peroid and we GC's dont have the luxruy of having work pre-quoted each time a bid is proposed. Any plumber or electrician who is blind to that will not get more work with this contractor. In general if you add 5-600 on top of what you predict for these trades its a loss for sure, any allowance will be gone and over budget. So not only is the profit and handling fee gone you no have to do a change order. The problem becomes having to go to a HO and say well the plumbing was 1200 more because of-----the electrican was *** more because of------ and so on if the GC is to earn any handling fee the number escalates to a point that looks badly unestimated. Lets not forget that we are human and miss small things from time to time as well and every minor material increase is not reflected from the day the estimate was done to the end of the job. I just hate how open ended these things become the GC bidding on them is on the hook and reputation is on the line for changing numbers.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:26 AM   #10
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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The problem becomes having to go to a HO and say well the plumbing was 1200 more because of-----the electrican was *** more because of------ and so on if the GC is to earn any handling fee the number escalates to a point that looks badly unestimated.
I just don't see this as a big a problem as you are having, especially a price increase in some copper or some fittings over the course of a job -$30?

If you are ending up $1200 off on a job and running into hot water with the customer there is either something wrong with your estimating abilities or your customer relations. I estimate based on what I suspect and using a mental rating of the potential problems if I am wrong, anything with a high probability of being a problem is discussed with the customer and a decision is made on how you estimate it.

_"I don't know if your previous jetted tub was installed with a dedicated circuit. Do you know?"

- "No, I'm not sure."

- "Okay, it should have been, but there is no telling, we are going to assume that it was installed with a dedicated circuit, I'm going to make a note in the contract as such and when we begin construction if the electrician finds other wise we will have to deal with it at that time and there will be extra charges to correct the situation. Does that make sense?"

-"Yes. What do you think it might run if we find out it wasn't done correctly?"

-(You figure $300-400) You tell the customers "Best case probably $400, could be as bad as $600.)

- "Wow, that's a lot of money."

-"Yeah, it is, but unfortunately when we are dealing with remodeling we don't have x-ray machines to see into these walls" Laughing...

customers laughs...

later turns out circuit is fine, you tell customer, everybody is happy.

or

later turns out circuit needs to be run, you tell customer, it ends up being $450, $50 worse than what you thought worse case. You tell customers, he is relieved since it is $150 less than the worst case number you told him.

I think there are at least a 1/2 dozen different ways to handle contingencies in remodeling, you've got to establish right from the start this relationship of the unknown with the customer.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:31 AM   #11
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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I wish and Im sure everyone wishes on this thread they can automatical add-on 500-600 for these trades and make money. The point is these trades get whatever they want peroid and we GC's dont have the luxruy of having work pre-quoted each time a bid is proposed. Any plumber or electrician who is blind to that will not get more work with this contractor. In general if you add 5-600 on top of what you predict for these trades its a loss for sure, any allowance will be gone and over budget. So not only is the profit and handling fee gone you no have to do a change order. The problem becomes having to go to a HO and say well the plumbing was 1200 more because of-----the electrican was *** more because of------ and so on if the GC is to earn any handling fee the number escalates to a point that looks badly unestimated. Lets not forget that we are human and miss small things from time to time as well and every minor material increase is not reflected from the day the estimate was done to the end of the job. I just hate how open ended these things become the GC bidding on them is on the hook and reputation is on the line for changing numbers.
What exactly do you mean by not having the luxury of having work pre-quoted each time a bid is proposed? Do you mean that you are actually supplying the HO with your proposal without first having had your plumber, electrician, etc. look at the job and price it? I'm not a gc and so I don't know if this is common practice but if it is then it should'nt be. Why should I as the plumbing contractor be bound by a number that you pull out of the air without consulting me first! If you call me to look at it and I give you a price, then that is my price and it does'nt change. It's my job to know what I'm doing and anticipate everything I can. Since it's usually not possible to foresee everything, my written contract with you will be carefully worded to allow for things that may be unknowable before hand (usually things underground) and the same language should be reflected in your proposal to the HO so that nobody gets a rude surprise. If I stupidly fail to realize that the new master bath addition (just an example) will require a sump/sewage pump when it's obvious that it will, then guess what, I just bought Joe HO a new sump/pump and installed it for free! I'm not coming back to you and say "Uh, well, you see, we had to add this sump system, and dig the hole, etc., etc. ... and I need another $2000. The only changes in my price will be the direct result of the HO's and/or gc's written request for a change to the original construction plan and/or fixture specifications and under these circumstances you have no reason not to expect a price increase. If you are being constantly hit with additional costs from your plumber simply because he did'nt anticipate everything he should have, then what you need is to get rid of Billy Bob and hire a professional, pay his price and get a first class job, but if He is going to stick to his price you ought not ever expect Him to do anything extra for free! If he does something extra and chooses not to charge you for it fine, but you ought not ever expect it.

As for "these trades get whatever they want period ..."! What a joke! The biggest reason I got out of new work all together (I still do some remodeling but almost always through the HO) was because of the builders/gcs. Some common quotes: "but Billy Bob's plumbing will do it for ***X ...", "Look, can't you help me out on this, I need it done and inspected by this afternoon", "sorry, cash flow crunch. It will be 10 more days before I can cut you your check", "what do you mean it's extra to relocate that vent, it won't take 10 minutes", "man, I'm not paying extra for that, look how much work I GIVE you", "what do you mean an extra hose bibb is $300, you're trying to rob me!"
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:37 AM   #12
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


All I can say is personally I have never once had a plumber or electrician view a potential job in person before I gave the customer an estimate. I can't even imagine a plumber or electrican worth a damn that would waste his time looking at my potential jobs. With a national closing average in remodelling of 1 out of 3 a plumber doing work for 3-4 gcs is going to spend most of his day wasting his time on jobs he will never get. I will call them up and in their trade language ask them specific quesitons, ask for a ball park on a certain aspect of a job, things like that.

At worst, my subs have me trained to find out some answers ahead of time for them - is it on a slab? How old is the house? Are the drains ABS? Do you have a drawing? Do you have a model number?
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:02 AM   #13
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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All I can say is personally I have never once had a plumber or electrician view a potential job in person before I gave the customer an estimate. I can't even imagine a plumber or electrican worth a damn that would waste his time looking at my potential jobs. With a national closing average in remodelling of 1 out of 3 a plumber doing work for 3-4 gcs is going to spend most of his day wasting his time on jobs he will never get. I will call them up and in their trade language ask them specific quesitons, ask for a ball park on a certain aspect of a job, things like that.

At worst, my subs have me trained to find out some answers ahead of time for them - is it on a slab? How old is the house? Are the drains ABS? Do you have a drawing? Do you have a model number?
I plumb a fair number of future baths. Usually the only variable is whether or not it uses a sump system. I could probably price these jobs over the phone and yet I go and look at every single one of them. I do this for a couple of reasons: I want the HO to meet and talk with me (I'm really what I'm selling after all), I don't compete on price so if I price my work over the phone I have reduced what I do to commodity status which means I lose, also it does'nt matter how many of these I have done they are not all the same, I need to look at it and make certain that everything is in order. For example, I have looked at these jobs and discovered that for whatever reason the rough in plumber at new const. stage failed to provide for a future vent or else for some unknown reason chose to locate it 30' away. Now I realise that dealing with the HO is different than dealing with a gc but the principle is the same, if I don't see the job then I don't care what I might tell you over the phone, it may not be accurate. Meanwhile you've already submitted your proposal so that by the time I show up to finish the rough in everything has already been signed by you and the HO. It may be the way people do things but I think its foolish. It may work out fine 99 times out of hundred but the aggrevation associated with number 100 is not anything I want to deal with. Where I am concerned, I do nothing without a signed contract (I've ranted about this in a previous post) and their is no way I am sending you a contract to sign for a job I have'nt seen.

P.S. Oh yeah, I don't go look at them for free either. The cost of that time is figured into the price of the job. If I don't get the work I lose, but if I do then I was paid to go look at it.

Last edited by smellslike$tome; 01-16-2007 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:10 AM   #14
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Either way its still very much open ended. Yes it is common practice to quote prior to actual estimates. Your a plumber your think money is no object to all people involved. WE GC'S understand your time factor but people need ballpark numbers before they decide to go ahead with any project. I call it the "blurt" or "price conditioning" the first words a customer will ask is about how much does a job like this go for before you even leave the first meeting. I feel them out of course try and throw a large number and see if they flinch. Thats not my practice of course, these estimates are based on similar projects with equal tasks that were done in the past. If time has elapsed then of course more money is thrown on here for increases. This is the gray area. Were not talking sewer injectors and obvious things like that I would have a lot bigger problems if did not know what required. The frequency of business relationship is huge here if Joe Shmoe plumber charges me ***x for this type of replacement everytime and now its been a while since we've done this type of task and my "worst case #" doesnt cover it now what. You want to stick with your regular sub but someone will always do something cheaper if he isnt willing to work it out. I dont and would expect Joe Shmoe to jump when I need him or continue to work for less than he wishes but if my subs are more expensive than your subs and then I'm adding percentage to that the numbers end up all over the place and none of this matters. Instead of 1 out 3 closing your closing 1 out 6. Most all subs think you just have a big profit and can afford any of there wishes.
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:50 AM   #15
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Tom, I think you need some new subs.

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Your a plumber your think money is no object to all people involved.

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people need ballpark numbers before they decide to go ahead with any project. I call it the "blurt" or "price conditioning" the first words a customer will ask is about how much does a job like this go for before you even leave the first meeting..
I thank heaven I'm not in your market, in your shoes and dealing with the customers you have. When those questions are asked of me, 99% of the time I simply ask the customer what sort of a budget have you been considering for your project? I must have some sort of magic beans in my pockets, because I have heard over and over and over again from contractos how you can't do that or how customers won't tell them. They all tell me. The figure might be realistic, it might not, if it's a bit low I probably won't say anything, just nod, if it's really low I might say you're probably off by at least 1/2, is this worth going any futher? 9 times out of 10 even somebody with a low budget number thrown out just doesn't know any better and that number will have little bearing on the final one. I've had people say $5000 and had them sign contracts for $15,000 by the time it's all over with. I've had people say $15,000 and we end up at $12,000. The budget number isn't really relevant in any shape or form, it's just to get the focus off of them pounding you for a number.

About the closest thing I will ever do in a situation you are describing is tell them "bathroom remodeling is extremely expensive to do right, anything can look good the day after it is installed, it's how does a room that takes so much abuse stand up 3 years from now that matters. A good quality remodel will run between $150 a square foot and $400 a square foot. The smaller the bathroom the higher the square footage price will end up. The figure depends really on what you want to do, and what quality of materials go into the job, there are $60 faucets and there are $600 faucets..."

Say that to a customer next time and see what happens. 90% of them will get it that you have to look at the job exactly as it is going to be in order to come up with an exact price. That's what you are there for anyways aren't you? Everytime you throw a blurt out or conditioning price at a customer the only thing you are doing is establishing the resistance point when you come back. If you say $5000-$7000 all they will remember is $5000 if you come back higher. If they are cheap all they will hear is $7000. You can't ever win with blurt out prices.

Good luck with it, it sounds like you need to sit down and reinvent some of what you are doing.
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:03 AM   #16
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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Either way its still very much open ended. Yes it is common practice to quote prior to actual estimates. Your a plumber your think money is no object to all people involved. WE GC'S understand your time factor but people need ballpark numbers before they decide to go ahead with any project. I call it the "blurt" or "price conditioning" the first words a customer will ask is about how much does a job like this go for before you even leave the first meeting. I feel them out of course try and throw a large number and see if they flinch. Thats not my practice of course, these estimates are based on similar projects with equal tasks that were done in the past. If time has elapsed then of course more money is thrown on here for increases. This is the gray area. Were not talking sewer injectors and obvious things like that I would have a lot bigger problems if did not know what required. The frequency of business relationship is huge here if Joe Shmoe plumber charges me ***x for this type of replacement everytime and now its been a while since we've done this type of task and my "worst case #" doesnt cover it now what. You want to stick with your regular sub but someone will always do something cheaper if he isnt willing to work it out. I dont and would expect Joe Shmoe to jump when I need him or continue to work for less than he wishes but if my subs are more expensive than your subs and then I'm adding percentage to that the numbers end up all over the place and none of this matters. Instead of 1 out 3 closing your closing 1 out 6. Most all subs think you just have a big profit and can afford any of there wishes.
This I think is at the heart of the tension between gcs and subs. I understand gcs are trying to build successful businesses, so am I. What I want is for the gc to look at my company and say "you know what, I know they are the most expensive plumbers in town but they are worth it. I never have any trouble out of them, they always do exactly what they promise and very often more. They are very good with the HOs, they never go behind my back on additional work. They are timely, proficient, professional, clean, courteous, drug free and have no criminal background. They represent my company very well. They cost more but they are like a rock. They are worth it! I wish I could find an HVAC contractor just like them ." In my experience though the gc does not think like this. Instead, too often, it's simply "what is the number" and "that's too much".
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:39 PM   #17
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Then it might be time to quit working for certain GCs.

GCs have a duty to keep costs down. If they can get the same product at a lower price, most will do it. The trick is to build a rapport with your GC and sell him on your company and its ability to make his life easier, not on price.

If I could bottle that, I'd be rich faster than I could buy the bottles.

As far as pricing plumbing and other subs, we always have them in to look. That doesn't mean that Mike's way is bad, just means he better have a sharp understanding of the risks involved and how to cope with problems. If you don't have that skill, develop it or avoid that problem by having your subs look at the job.

As far as wasting time goes, that's life. You close what you close and if your plumber wants to work, then he does what he can to help you close. If that means looking at 2/3 bust estimates, then that is the price of admission.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:55 PM   #18
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


Thanks for your input guys. I appreciate the philosphy here. Mike your advertisement suggests this topic is your forte'. The range of costs for fixtures and tile is crazy, i dont often blurt out numbers and never use them as a bottom line but you know what I meant. Re-inventing a plan is the thought for this feed and needed some help.
As for smellslike you see my point and realize GC's prefer to use someone on a regular basis, However everyone in this business has to meet each other in the middle sometimes. We all have worked for prices that we wanted, wished for or simply need. Its always different. Of course a timley sub, neat and proffessional matter as first choice but not everyone cares if those pipes are straight behind the drywall. If it leaks or fails your coming back. The responsibility is the same for everyone. The idea that "whatever the number is that's too much" is very true to many people. I would love to put out the best job, using the best subs in the business and cost be no issue but we know that cant always be the case.
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Old 01-19-2007, 08:57 PM   #19
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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Originally Posted by Mike Finley View Post
All I can say is personally I have never once had a plumber or electrician view a potential job in person before I gave the customer an estimate.
Ditto to that.

If I know that I am shoe-in for the job, I will meet with the HO one time and get a commitment from them before even doing and estimate of any sort. Then, I'll send my trades over to look at it and quote it so it's exact.

However, 99% of the time on a standard 5x7 bath, and I'm dealing with "new" customers, they want a quote within a day or so. We, as GCs, have a lot more selling to do than a sub-trade. To be honest with you, 100% of people do not give a **** about the pipes and wires buried in the walls of their project. I am positive of that. They can't see that stuff so they really don't care who/how/why, so long as their new bathub and shower works.

I use the same subs for every job I do. They think like me. They are not inexpensive, but they generally show up on time, when I need them and do good work. However, I have to constantly remind them that I am providing them with slam dunk jobs in that I call them and say "I need you a day this week...be there". They show up, maybe nod to the HO, and get paid. Gee, I wish getting MY jobs were that easy.

So we as GCs expect a little "respect" or "lee-way" or whatever you want to call it for putting good jobs on silver platters for the subs. If this means compromising on a price or showing up on a Saturday to keep a job moving, I don't know.
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:18 PM   #20
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Re: Bathroom & Plumbing Costs?


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I do and have done many remodels usually all with architect plans. Recently I find myself trying to bid projects without plans. I have always avoided bathrooms and recently decided not to let them go without profiting from them. Normally I would have given a copy of plans to a plumber, get a price and give an allowance for fixtures, and tile. The demo, debris, and rock are rolled onto the whole project list. What is the best way or most commen way to approach this type of work? Without plans I'm in the dark.
For example look at this scenerio: Split-level bathroom and laundry combination---slab on grade. Existing plumbing supply is present but will likely be relocated as we jack hammer the floor to rearrange this single room to 2 seperate rooms with a hall passage. Do I handle the floor in house and all needs per fixture. Like gas for dryer, water for bowl, sink and washer, drains and stand pipe for laundry, sinks and waste. Or do most guys just package these jobs in with special price plus floor work. Any advice would be helpful.
Believe me when I say, Your Plumbing sub will charge you for each installation. Make sure to bid it that way. Kitchens and Bathrooms get expensive. You can't afford to give the work away on a hip shot bid.

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