When does "cheap" become "not cheerful"

A lovely long time friend and client and I were discussing a plumbing project they were looking at doing in the future. For many years we have done all the family's plumbing. She confided that she would always use Nic because he's so knowledgable, reliable and honest, feedback which I appreciated. She also mentioned others have said to her that he is not the cheapest and they knew other plumbers who would do their job cheaper for them, feedback I also appreciated. Afterwards I thought this is a really serious discussion that needs to be had on this blog to help all homeowners make a wise and informed decision when it comes to their family's plumbing issues. Some personal for instances came to mind immediately.

We currently live in a small, steep estate established in about 2007, new houses are still being built. There are at a guess maybe 30 houses. We are the ONLY house on the street that does not have an electric water pump to pump water from the street and into facilities. Why, because Nic used copper pipe, graduating the pipe size depending on the room it was headed, ran them in straight lines and gently wide curved the pipes when they needed to be rather than use hard angle bends. This was done so that the water flow was not hindered. It cost more than the cheaper plastic pipe and took a lot more thought but his forward planning and technique was to get the best flow into the home. The other houses have had to outlay thousands of dollars on a pump, the polite ones pay for a pump shelter to house it in for noise reduction and every time they turn on a tap or flush the toilet it costs them in electricity. One neighbour told us the whole family wakes three or four times a night when their next door neighbours flush their toilet, as the pump is on their bedroom side boundary. Add the cost of the pump, the housing and the ongoing electricity cost to their original plumbing bill and their "cheap became not cheerful". We counted 9 houses in our street we now have as clients, mostly resulting from problems with their plumbing installations.

Bathroom before renovation Bathroom after renovation

We renovated our last home, turning it from a 3 bed 1 bath to a 5 bed 3 bath including an ensuite. We of course used copper pipe. We decided we wanted both the main bath and the ensuite to be wet rooms. A wet room is where the floor is sloped down, there's no hob on the shower and the water flows towards and out the floor waste. Often eliminating the need for a shower screen which was the case in the ensuite. In the main bathroom a single small glass screen was installed so it stopped splashes by small people making the bathroom walkways slippery. Otherwise there was again no hob and it made the room feel lovely and luxurious. The careful calculation of fall made by Nic ensured both showers worked beautifully, water got away easily and the residual dampness evaporated quickly. Proof came when we put the house on the market and the dozen men doing the building and pest did a thorough inspection. I was in my studio downstairs at the time and heard taps and showers going on and off. One inspector poked his head in the door where the other inspectors and I were and said "Come and have a look at this! Wet rooms that actually work!".

Our friends were renovating their Coorparoo home at the time, saw our wet rooms and fell in love with them. We quoted to do the work as did another plumber who was a few hundred dollars cheaper. They chose the cheaper option and the work was done. The fall was so wrong that while they were actually showering they had to sweep the water towards the waste with a large broom, bought for that purpose, before it escaped out the door and onto their bedroom floor boards. They lived for years having to broom the water out that way until the house sold.

Professional plumbers also need to know the various types of bathroom, kitchen and laundry fixtures and be able to advise the suitability of each type depending on the needs of the owners. Sadly this was not the case. The owners wanted a quality European toilet, but it was not suitable for Australian water standards and they soon became annoyed at the amount of time it took after their morning rituals to keep it clean. We always point out the 'drop zone' to owners and suggest various models they could look at before choosing fixtures. The bath/shower in the main bathroom was installed incorrectly and the excess water after showering was pooled between the tiled wall and the bath hob meaning wiping down after each use. The bath in the ensuite should not have had a second shower installed over it as it was not designed to be a shower/bath combination. So basically none of the plumbing did what they had originally wanted. Another time that "cheap became not cheerful".

We have sooo many of these stories to share but the latest one was a homeowner who called Nic out last week to see a plumbing job which he had paid to have done. Cheap was the word he used about the quote received. When Nic inspected the work he found that the sewer connection fall was incorrect and too high. The floor waste could not work correctly. To rectify it the entire installation had to be redone. If not done correctly the sewer can back up and raw sewerage could enter the home through the lowest fixtures, that is, the shower floor wastes. The entire job was illegal and no relevant council forms were given to the owners as per the law. Nic was asked to redo the job for him but he suggested to the owner that first rather than pay for the job twice, he might like to call the plumbing council to see if they could make the original plumber responsible for fixing their error. Time will tell as the plumber was not contactable. Once more that "cheap became not cheerful".

Choosing a professional plumber can be a tricky business. We understand that, as a lot of new clients come to us to repair substandard and illegal work. Please be assured our work is thorough and well thought out. Our work is insured for 12 months. We look at the bigger picture and the house as a whole rather than just the individual job at hand. Rather like an iceberg..........we see the symptoms on the home's surface but also analyse what problems are sitting below level..........and then we fix them.

Nic's catch cry is "I don't strive to be the cheapest....I strive to be the best"

If you think you would like to book a time to discuss whatever plumbing, gas, heater, drainage, gutter, roof or plumbing renovation issues or plans you want to make, call Nic on 0411330394 for a no obligation quote.

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