Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels - Remodeling - Contractor Talk

Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-13-2014, 09:03 PM   #1
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Just when I had an awesome list of subs in Alaska I moved twice, and now I'm in Portland, OR area for the long haul getting everything started back up again.

I'm having a hard time finding a quality, professional, reliable and reasonable plumbing sub. I'd like to think I'm about as good to work with as they come. I have everything ready and cleaned out the day I say I will. I personally write the checks, and I'll do it the moment the job is done. No delays, no check is in the mail, no homeowner hasn't paid me yet.

I have a steady stream of work and I can complete about 3 jobs a month that require permitted plumbing work. Low volume but steady.

The negative is job size. Maybe half of my jobs are little 5x7 bath redos where I just need a tub and valve installed, and later trim. Two 2 hour visits. The rest are more involved with re-pipes, additions, sub-slab, often 8-16 man-hours for rough in.

I've contacted about 15 plumbers and had mostly negative or non-existent response. Google, craigslist, and recommendations from supply houses.

The few responses I've had are giving me flat rate numbers that are well over the ~$200 an hour I'd be willing to pay for a plumber and apprentice. I'm looking for good to work with, reliable, etc, not the cheapest.

I guess this is kind of just a rant, but any suggestions on where to look and maybe what plumbers want to here from me?
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 11-13-2014, 10:34 PM   #2
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: CA
Posts: 21,758
Rewards Points: 2,350

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


IMO, two things going against you....

You are the FNG in town with no reputation.

Second is residential remodeling...normally a HUGE PITA for subs.

Just keep asking.

Two good bets:

an older semi retired guy....or

a new guy trying to get established.....

Good Luck...

Advertisement

__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to griz For This Useful Post:
Golden view (11-13-2014), Jaws (11-16-2014), MHElectric (01-10-2015)
Old 11-14-2014, 11:07 AM   #3
Pro
 
98crewcab's Avatar
 
Trade: General contractor
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Rancho Cordova, CA
Posts: 346
Rewards Points: 488

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Im sorry, I have that plumbing sub here in Sacramento.....lol, Hes great!! Actually having the same problem getting those qualities out of a texture/painter sub:/ good luck, and keep looking
98crewcab is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 11-14-2014, 01:06 PM   #4
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


The search continues but I haven't given up yet. It's almost to the point where I could employ a plumber full time for less money.
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
Old 11-15-2014, 11:11 PM   #5
back doors to hell put in
 
Irishslave's Avatar
 
Trade: Carpenter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Google knows
Posts: 3,859
Rewards Points: 2,792

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


I have to agree with Griz.....if someone calls me out of the blue to sub.....it raises concern if I bite.......I don't know you so I have to keep short accounts.....and sorry if my trucks rollin.....I'm makin money
__________________
Television is fake...The internet is real
Irishslave is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Irishslave For This Useful Post:
Golden view (11-15-2014)
Old 11-16-2014, 12:30 AM   #6
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 23,341
Rewards Points: 5,040

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Look for a service plumber. Thats what our plumber does primarily. He used to do a lot of big multi family stuff, now he wants to do smaller stuff and service work. Doing our work gets him in with our homeowners, who are not the type to work on their homes. We give our clients the names and contact info of all the MEP subs when we complete their projects.

As far as remodel subs go, it would be tough for a lot of trades, like drywall to get on something like a bathroom. We do a lot of additions and whole house remodels, so the subs bear with us on the smaller jobs. But we have an in house painter/drywall guy for just that purpose, and cabinet finishes. That way I dont have to call a sub to drywall or paint a bathroom.

When we first started we started strong, built a few houses and some additions, then had an 18 month period where we didnt have a good sized job due to the recession, other than one house and a cottage. I got pretty good at doing everything I could legally do at that time.

Like Griz said, your new in town. Your a good contractor, it wont take long to get a reputation among the subs as a good guy to work for.
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
Windwash (11-16-2014)
Old 11-16-2014, 12:41 AM   #7
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 23,341
Rewards Points: 5,040

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


The new guy is a way to go for subs on remodels if you are in tuned with the local trades reps. When my roofer died, we did a lot of our own roofing for a while while trying to vet a new one. We generally only do R panel and U panel in house, I sub dimensional, standing seam and tile ( except for tile repairs sometimes) generally. The guy we ended up going with was an installer who was subbing from roofers with his crew. He was trying hard to break out as a roofing contractor. He is everything you look for in a sub, prompt, well healed and does clean, professional installs. I refer straight roofing jobs I dont want to him all the time, and sub quite a few to him every year.

Same thing for my painter/drywall guy.

Both subs have been with me for 3 years, both businesses have expanded because of their hard work and determination. Meanwhile they still like doing my work because I am not a cheap skate and we pay promptly.
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
Golden view (11-16-2014)
Old 11-16-2014, 11:45 AM   #8
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


I may have found my guy. I'm trying him out on a small job and then I have a good sized one to jump start our working relationship.

I think I pretty well understand all the concerns subs have when hearing from me and I think after a couple jobs they will be happy. I will even schedule the entire project around their down days so they keep busy and making money. I'm pretty skilled in all the trades and ill happily do anything I need to to keep projects on track.

It's been humbling. Things were going so well before, I was turning down 80% of new work, and I pretty much always had a sub eager to do the work for me. Now I'm back to the start, I'll be filling in doing anything I legally can.
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
Old 11-16-2014, 12:13 PM   #9
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


I'm sure some of my issues could just be not understanding this market, which might bear the numbers that seem crazy to me.

For example, a common small job for me, I don't make much money but it's easy to schedule and i could live off of only these if needed, is a small simple bath update.
Day 1: set up, demo and clean
Day 2: install new tub and valve in the morning, cbu and waterproof surround
Day 3: install the majority of the tile, all if possible
Day 4: wall sand, repair, skim. Grout
Day 5: sand walls, touch up, prime, paint. Install vanity and toilet, plumbing trim
Day 6: usually something pushes the end day here

Before, a simplified breakdown of my numbers, normalized to $100 hide the true numbers:
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, overhead and profit
$20 plumbing and electric sub
$100 cost to customer

Now it's more like
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, oh and profit.
$40 plumbing and electric sub
$120 cost to customer. A 20% increase just due to subs.
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
Old 11-16-2014, 12:31 PM   #10
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 23,341
Rewards Points: 5,040

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden view View Post
I'm sure some of my issues could just be not understanding this market, which might bear the numbers that seem crazy to me.

For example, a common small job for me, I don't make much money but it's easy to schedule and i could live off of only these if needed, is a small simple bath update.
Day 1: set up, demo and clean
Day 2: install new tub and valve in the morning, cbu and waterproof surround
Day 3: install the majority of the tile, all if possible
Day 4: wall sand, repair, skim. Grout
Day 5: sand walls, touch up, prime, paint. Install vanity and toilet, plumbing trim
Day 6: usually something pushes the end day here

Before, a simplified breakdown of my numbers, normalized to $100 hide the true numbers:
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, overhead and profit
$20 plumbing and electric sub
$100 cost to customer

Now it's more like
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, oh and profit.
$40 plumbing and electric sub
$120 cost to customer. A 20% increase just due to subs.
That could be many things, like getting higher prices than your used to because your starting out again doing smaller jobs, smaller jobs mean more PITA money to some subs.

Might be the new locale has higher rates than your used to.

Might be the economy is up there and the subs raised their rates.

I pay attention to what stuff is going for, but I dont get hung up "too" much on the subs prices as long as they seem reasonable. My drywall sub has gone up considerably over the last year per sq ft. He is charging quite a bit more for remodel drywall vs new stuff like my additions or a whole house gut. I dont blame him, he is making it while it is there. Also, on a remodel, I figure re texturing the whole affected area now, so it often ends up being more per sq ft than new construction drywall.

There are a couple excellent subs that id like to switch to because they are that step above good, but cant really afford them right now without lowering my mark up, and my current subs are good, just require some watching as far as the little things.

Another good thing for service MEP guys is they are a bit more reactive when you are in a jamb, like finding a surprise behind a wall. They are used to emergency service calls. I like to be proactive with my schedules, but sometimes stuff happens.
__________________
"The sound of the saftey clicking off is the only warning your gonna get......., so cover your ears" Northeast Wyoming 2016

John
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
Golden view (11-16-2014)
Old 11-16-2014, 06:11 PM   #11
Windwash
 
Windwash's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeling
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Shoreview, MN
Posts: 588
Rewards Points: 148

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden view View Post
I'm sure some of my issues could just be not understanding this market, which might bear the numbers that seem crazy to me.

For example, a common small job for me, I don't make much money but it's easy to schedule and i could live off of only these if needed, is a small simple bath update.
Day 1: set up, demo and clean
Day 2: install new tub and valve in the morning, cbu and waterproof surround
Day 3: install the majority of the tile, all if possible
Day 4: wall sand, repair, skim. Grout
Day 5: sand walls, touch up, prime, paint. Install vanity and toilet, plumbing trim
Day 6: usually something pushes the end day here

Before, a simplified breakdown of my numbers, normalized to $100 hide the true numbers:
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, overhead and profit
$20 plumbing and electric sub
$100 cost to customer

Now it's more like
$50 materials
$30 self performed work, oh and profit.
$40 plumbing and electric sub
$120 cost to customer. A 20% increase just due to subs.
That is a very aggressive schedule if you can make it work No inspections? How are you doing new tub, toilet and vanity without new flooring?

I agree with Jaws that you should find a service plumber.
Windwash is offline  
Old 11-16-2014, 06:38 PM   #12
Talking Head
 
EthanB's Avatar
 
Trade: Poking Things With Sticks
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 5,320
Rewards Points: 298

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


I pretty much only do small remodels and I have found that service MEP's are the way to go. They can actually fit me into their schedules and they have enough flexibility that I can do a demo on Monday and they'll still be able to fix the surprises on Tuesday. Passing their name on to customers and other contacts keeps them pretty loyal. Along with paying the bill on time. I usually have to pin my plumber down and make him tell me an amount on inspection day so I can cut him a check.

Two things about the service guys that I run into: 1. I call them regularly to remind them of upcoming projects, even the day before. Their schedules can get crazy so it's better to remain in their mind than get stood up and complain about it. 2. They usually have higher hourly rates. It's worth it to me.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
Planer.....
EthanB is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to EthanB For This Useful Post:
buildr7 (11-16-2014)
Old 11-18-2014, 08:37 PM   #13
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


After a huge amount of searching I think I found my guy. All the right attributes and cheaper than I expected. He isn't actually a service plumber. He does new construction for a contractor or two that keeps him busy half the time and fills in the rest with remodels.

He did a bathroom for me today and was great. Probably the smoothest bathroom I've ever done. Demoed and roughed in all before 3pm. Also met with me for more than an hour for a much more involved job.

Thanks for the CT support.
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
Old 01-01-2015, 03:52 PM   #14
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


If anyone cares, an update: Things are going well. My plumber is fantastic, the best I've ever worked with. I found a good electrician, and HVAC guy. Any by odd coincidence, my glass installer is an old acquaintance and good friend of friends from Alaska.

Also, he doesn't know it yet, but I'm going to start using CT member Metro M&L for flooring if possible!
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Golden view For This Useful Post:
asevereid (01-02-2015), Jaws (04-04-2015), Jeff1984 (01-11-2015), MattK (04-04-2015), thehockeydman (04-04-2015)
Old 04-04-2015, 11:30 AM   #15
Pro
 
MattK's Avatar
 
Trade: Framing, Roofing, Siding
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: RI, Southern New England
Posts: 1,200
Rewards Points: 1,096

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Andrew, I've read your experience with interest. With my wife about to finish law school and Rhode Island being a small state, I feel I could easily end up starting fresh in another New England state or farther away.

My hypothetical anxiety is due to the idea of starting over with new subs & suppliers. I can sell and am confident in my abilities to locate/close work but I, like you, would be another strongly rooted, local contractor forced to start fresh. Glad to see as of your last post, that all is well with your new subs.

Have you had good luck with your new Portland suppliers? I have 2 great local supplier salesmen that both have sent multiple jobs my way(other contractors and homeowners). If treated well, loyal and maintain a trust that you'll do right by their recommendation, these guys can be one of the most valuable assets around.

Best of luck continuing on.
__________________
--MATT
Add your Facebook Business Site to "THE LIST"
http://www.contractortalk.com/f12/if...-should-79504/
Page 77 has the updated, complete list.
MattK is offline  
Old 04-04-2015, 01:03 PM   #16
Talking Head
 
EthanB's Avatar
 
Trade: Poking Things With Sticks
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 5,320
Rewards Points: 298

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Matt, I've started up twice in New England and it's not that bad, provided that you ARE from New England. It's a weird little place. I've never had much luck with suppliers but I haven't really spent much time trying to develop them either.

When I first moved to Portland, ME I dropped my card off at the local yard and a paint store when I was picking up supplies and they both gave my card to the same GC who was complaining he couldn't find good guys. I got hired as a sub on my third day in the state.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
Planer.....
EthanB is offline  
Old 04-04-2015, 01:47 PM   #17
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 4,511
Rewards Points: 6,254

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Matt,

I also moved because the significant other was going to school. She's working now, and everything is awesome. Ultimately, as a younger contractor, starting over was a good thing. It forced me to do some of the things from scratch that kind of fell into my lap before. With more experience, I'd like to think I can do things better this time.

Really all it takes is what any contractor should expect: A lot of hard work. I do everything I can to be the best GC for my subs as well as my clients. So far this has continued to pay off through referrals and loyal subs.
__________________
You make something idiot proof and the world invents a better idiot.
Golden view is offline  
Old 04-04-2015, 02:04 PM   #18
Pro
 
MattK's Avatar
 
Trade: Framing, Roofing, Siding
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: RI, Southern New England
Posts: 1,200
Rewards Points: 1,096

Re: Finding Good Plumbing Subs For Remodels


Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanB View Post
Matt, I've started up twice in New England and it's not that bad, provided that you ARE from New England. It's a weird little place. I've never had much luck with suppliers but I haven't really spent much time trying to develop them either.

When I first moved to Portland, ME I dropped my card off at the local yard and a paint store when I was picking up supplies and they both gave my card to the same GC who was complaining he couldn't find good guys. I got hired as a sub on my third day in the state.
Ethan, I've only ever worked in RI, and eastern Mass. Being a local, born and raised here has it's advantages and a certain level of comfort. I've also benefited from being a 3rd gen contractor when it comes to acquiring subs. Many of the same guys who had an excellent relationship with my dad, now work with me. It's almost like a level of family loyalty is expected on both sides, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden view View Post
Matt,

I also moved because the significant other was going to school. She's working now, and everything is awesome. Ultimately, as a younger contractor, starting over was a good thing. It forced me to do some of the things from scratch that kind of fell into my lap before. With more experience, I'd like to think I can do things better this time.

Really all it takes is what any contractor should expect: A lot of hard work. I do everything I can to be the best GC for my subs as well as my clients. So far this has continued to pay off through referrals and loyal subs.
Glad to hear it, Andrew. The things we do for our women! All kidding aside, I'm excited for her to finish up and happy being a contractor gives me the flexibility to pack up and leave.

Advertisement

__________________
--MATT
Add your Facebook Business Site to "THE LIST"
http://www.contractortalk.com/f12/if...-should-79504/
Page 77 has the updated, complete list.
MattK is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to MattK For This Useful Post:
Jaws (04-04-2015)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A good 12 minute watch. (you tube) kookoomouse General Discussion 29 05-22-2013 06:02 AM
how should i approach this issue with my worker? welterweight General Discussion 103 02-19-2013 12:20 AM
A Visitor from Paint / a plumbing question / bathtub backs up from sink JTemple Plumbing 24 02-12-2013 07:33 AM
Good Morning, Good Afternoon & incase I don't see You Good Night ContractorG New Member Introductions 1 02-05-2013 11:10 PM
Creative Nonfiction Essay 1 Kowboy Off Topic (Non Trade) 35 10-23-2010 03:15 PM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?