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golem 05-17-2013 01:23 PM

Req opinions on professionally completed drain repair.
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Just had a portion of a corroded and split cast iron drain pipe replaced with PVC. Was wondering what your opinion is regarding their choice of repair method. As can be seen in the attached diagram the split (designated in red) was in a service sweep of the kitchen drain. They chose to cut the pipe right at the end of the split/corrosion leaving about a one inch stub in the wye to which they added a Fernco style coupler and new PVC which extended into the basement then mating to the existing copper drain from the kitchen sink. Even though I questioned them on numerous occasions as to why they wouldn't simply remove the lead packing and remaining few inches of pipe they insisted this repair would be standard in the industry.

Second on my list was their labor charge. They contracted for 3+ days of work but finished in under 9 hours (6 hours/2.5 hours). When I questioned if there might be an adjustment to the final price it was stated that for "my" benefit he place two men on the job to speed the repair minimizing down-time of our kitchen sink. LOL. Now how many jobs such as this would a plumbing company assign a single plumber? They had intended to jack-hammer two separate 4'x4' areas of the slab on either side of an interior wall to gain access to the failed pipe, I find it hard to believe a plumbers helper would not be standard for a situation requiring this amount of grunt work. In the end they only required one 3.5'x2' hole to facilitate repairs.

I'm hoping some industry pro's or homeowners with experience could lend opinions as to whether the choice of repair type and billing concerns are warranted or silly. As an FYI - The company doing the job was not a large multi-state entity nor were they an independent working from their garage and I should add their daily labor rate was $800 so he was trying to attempt justifying $1600/day for two on-site.

nealtw 05-17-2013 03:26 PM

Fernco also makes a donut to fit the bell on the cast iron, they can be a bear to work with, and you're always taking a change of breaking the next fitting, so his way is likely industry standard.
For the cost part of your question, you did say he quoted it. He quoted the worst possible senario and if it took twice as long would you be willing to pay more.
When you quote a job or in your case get a quote, you win some and lose some.

golem 05-17-2013 03:42 PM

Thanks for the reply nealtw.

I can go along with you with regards to the style of repair but as for the contract, well, it was somewhat open-ended. The contract explicitly stated they would excavate as much as 8' of pipe, beyond that would require additional contracting. Might they have been allowing themselves the best of both worlds?

nealtw 05-17-2013 04:06 PM

Yes, they can't have the best of both worlds, at least in my world. If you have that in writing, I would push for some discount. If he didn't specify one man or two men, he kinda has you there. If you throw in travel time and he will, you might say they worked 1 1/2 days each so that make three days. I doubt if he ever planned to only have one man. Evan 10 or 20% discount would make you feel better, tel him you still want the concrete removed so the pipe can be inspected and see what he says.

CallMeVilla 05-17-2013 05:53 PM

Yes, his repair meets standards I use all the time. Just finished a bathroom remodel using very similar techniques.

The price? Consider it another way ... if the job had EXCEEDED three days, he would have charged you the full price of the overage. You would not get a break, right? So you can't have 100% upside coverage but refuse to cover downside discounts. If the job was completed because he over-estimated the job it is NOT your fault, it is his.

When contracting you need to get an hourly rate as well as a day-rate. If he chooses to add 5 people to the job, you need to pre-approve the overage. Quick work lets him finish and move to the next job, thus, you both win.

I would take it upstairs to the Manager and insist on a reduction using my logic. :D
Oh, if you get a discount, send Neal and me some coupons for burgers and beers.

golem 05-17-2013 07:40 PM

Much appreciate the replies!

@nealtw & CallMeVilla
I rarely contract anyone to do work for me (stereotypical Jack-of-all-trades) but in this case travel requirements dictated. Your insight should prove useful if I ever need to do so in the future. In the meanwhile I'll try a little diplomacy and visit their office next week to see if we can come to some sort of adjustment. There is quite a bit more to the back-story of this concerning the estimator's aggrandizing his and his company's fairness to the customer prior to contract signing and then his apprehension and neglect in replying to my questions once the job was under way and completed.

If I have any success I'll be hunting for some b&b coupons. ;)

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