Working with Plumbing Subcontractors: Problem Solving

by Tim Carter

Callback Problems Resolving Conflicts Typical Problems, Successful Solutions

Callback Problems

If you qualified your plumber from the beginning, callbacks should not be a problem. You will look like a knight in shining armor if your plumber offers real 24-hour-a-day service. Some problems can wait until the next day; others can't.

Develop a list of problems that your plumber will respond to immediately, if need be. All other problems can be solved the next day. Share this list with your homebuyers so they do not expect the plumber to stop by in an hour for just a leaky faucet.

Resolving Conflicts

Misunderstandings can happen. All sorts of things can go wrong to cause problems. Perhaps a drywall hanger drives a screw into a drain line or water-supply pipe. Who is responsible for the repair? It depends. If there is no protection plate in place and the drywall hanger used a 1-5/8-inch drywall screw or smaller, I would expect the plumber to fix the leak. If the plates are in place or an oversized screw caused the problem, the drywall hanger needs to pay the plumber to fix the mistake.

Money is always the blockade to solving conflicts. Each person involved in the dispute sees hard-earned dollars floating out of his checkbook. Decide immediately that the problem has to be solved, and then discuss how the repair cost is going to be shared. And don't forget that someone's insurance policy just might solve the whole mess. The regular deductible amount may be the only out-of-pocket costs for the person(s) who shares the blame.

Typical Problems, Successful Solutions

If you take a little time and get educated about how plumbing systems work, you'll save time and money, and earn a few points with your customers. Trouble-free plumbing systems are not hard to design and install. What's more, they may cost a little more money, but I guarantee you that your customers will pay for it if you educate them on the many benefits. Here are some common problems that come to light after the move-in date. Below I have outlined the simple solution that could have prevented the problem:

PROBLEM The water pressure and temperature fluctuate in second-floor bathrooms or other locations when other fixtures are being used.
SOLUTION Water pressure problems can almost always be traced to undersized water supply lines. Make sure your plumber installs properly-sized copper lines to all fixture groups and individual fixture supply lines.

Size water heaters according to the number of occupants in a house. All water heater manufacturers have convenient tables that tell you how many gallons are needed per occupant. If the heater is gas-fired, keep in mind that different heaters come with different size burners. You may choose to replace the existing water heater with a quick-recovery type.