Sunday, February 05, 2006

WATCH Your Plumber!

My boss is having some work done on a rental house she owns. The contractors/carpenters have been coming in for lunch everyday, and we've been discussing their progress. They're repairing the bathroom floor, which had started to sag.

It seems that when the plumbers installed the toilet in the house, they cut a chunk out of the floor joist. WTF?! No wonder the floor was sagging! Other than a full refrigerator, I don't know anything in a house that exerts more psi(pounds/square inch), than a toilet with someone sitting on it. Floor joists support EVERYTHING in a house, including the walls. WHY would they cut out the the only thing supporting the toilet, other than a 3/4 in sheet of plywood?

The contractor, Dave, says that this is a common practice. That's why he INSISTS on being present when the plumbers are on-site. I asked him if the building codes allowed this practice. Dave shrugged and said: "The plumbers don't care. If the designer says a fixture has to go in a certain spot, they do it, ignoring the structure of the building." When I asked how this passes inspection, Dave said: "The inspectors rarely look at structure. They just check the plumbing connections."

Keep this in mind if you're planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel! If possible, mark your floor joists before the designer arrives. Then INSIST that they work around, not through, the joists. This also applies to furnace and AC ductwork. When the plumbers arrive, plan on having a knowledgeable person there, who isn't a member of the crew. Professionals rarely like homeowners staring over their shoulder, but that's tough!

Dave said that many electricians are also guilty of this practice when installing ceiling fixtures. Drilling a small hole through a joist or stud, to accomodate wiring or water pipes, is fine. Just don't EVER let them cut THROUGH a stud or joist without beefing it up in an approved manner.

Educate yourself before the so-called professionals arrive. In the long run, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches and money!

27 Comments:

At 2/05/2006 9:55 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Oh man, tshsmom, that is SCARY. Can you imagine being on the throne some day and experiencing the joy of crashing through the floor?

YIKES

 
At 2/05/2006 11:27 PM, Blogger European said...

I was thinking right along with Bridget there... scary stuff! Or imagine the upper story landing on your dinner table with your ceiling fan!

 
At 2/06/2006 12:56 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Thanks for the tip!

 
At 2/06/2006 7:29 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

I can't tell you how many old houses I've been in and worked with other people on where this was done. It's just amazing how stupid and lazy some people can be. Not that I'm an expert on any of this, it's just that I grew up with a mother who constantly remodeled and between working for construction companies and dating guys who worked on houses, it's amazing what you see!

 
At 2/06/2006 12:32 PM, Blogger Laura said...

yow. That sounds bad. How expensive is it to replace that?

Though I do have to say if you can afford a "designer" then you should be able to afford a designer who should be mindful of structure as well.

 
At 2/06/2006 3:34 PM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Thanks for the heads up! Isn't it scary how homeowners can so easily be taken advantage of?

 
At 2/06/2006 3:43 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, fortunately this was a ground floor toilet. They also caught it before the toilet started leaking and damaging more structure.

Euro, exactly! Even worse, how about the second story coming down with the toilet on the dinner table?

Monica, you're welcome! This is one of the reasons why we do our own work.

VV, that's how I learned too. My Dad is a terrific carpenter and I learned by helping him on remodeling projects. I think it's more cheap than lazy

Laura, the whole project is running around $5000, but there's some sheetrocking in the bedrooms included in this price.
The designers that we have up here are the kind that work at the lumberyard with a computer program. They rarely see the actual room they're designing.
In the case of this particular house, I think one of the former owners installed the toilet.

 
At 2/06/2006 4:04 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Around here, it's not just "watch your plumber", but also watch your contractor. There are a lot of new homes being built in the area and some of these contractors are "fly by night" operations. Then, when things have started to go wrong with the house, the contractors are nowhere to be found. Maybe it's not so bad that I rent...

 
At 2/06/2006 5:25 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

We learned that one the hard way Notta. Even though we thoroughly checked out the contractor and his prior work and customers, we got screwed. :(

 
At 2/07/2006 11:11 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Do plumbers carry liability insurance? They should. Good grief.

 
At 2/07/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger European said...

Hehe, that's why we eat out - you never know! ;)

 
At 2/07/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Reputable plumbers do, WC. The trick is in proving that they did the damage. If you're not there, documenting everything, you can't prove it.

Nice rationalizing Euro! You could always have a look in your attic and see what's up(or down). ;)

 
At 2/07/2006 10:15 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Well, seeing that you're obviously more handy than I am, I won't argue with you and I'll take your word for it.

I know basic plumbing and tile setting, but that's about it.

Lol at what Bridget called the toilet.

 
At 2/08/2006 11:54 AM, Blogger Squirl said...

I didn't think anybody was that stupid/unethical in the plumbing business. I know they overcharge, but to cut through a support? Seems like that would leave them open to a lawsuit if somebody fell through.

 
At 2/08/2006 3:21 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That surprises me ZS. Being a landlord, I thought you'd be handy.

Squirl, unless you're seriously overweight, it takes a few years for the floor to start sagging. By that time, it's legally too hard to prove who was to blame. Plumbers know this. :(

 
At 2/09/2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Ahh the things people will do for money! If money is the root of all evil, why then does every church ask for it? It's a real good thing i do not have a gradualy drooping floor in my bathroom. I would probly worry myself sick thinking I was shrinking!!!!!
Davey

 
At 2/09/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That's why I dropped out of "organized" religion Davey.
Shrinking! LMAO!! THAT'S funny!

 
At 2/09/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Davey said...

It's not funny! I'm like a Buggie. If I catch a glimps of myself whilst strutting naked in fron of the mirror. It's fight time baby!!!! I then preen myself. Throw seeds onto the floor and poop on the news paper. Glad in the knowlage that I am still King.
Davey
P.S. Did I mention Martha is gone all week? So it's just Benson and I. And a crap load of dirty dishes!!!!

 
At 2/09/2006 6:53 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Davey, I'm sure that Benson is a sympathetic listener. I'll help keep you company while your girls are gone.
Just make sure that the house is in order when Martha gets home!!

 
At 2/10/2006 4:46 AM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Tshsmom - Nah. The only thing I know how to do is physical labor. I've rebuilt fences, laid sod, tore out carpets, old tile, old linoleum, stuff that takes no brains. If it takes brains, I hire someone else to do it.

 
At 2/10/2006 1:09 PM, Blogger Davey said...

My Girls......I love it.

 
At 2/10/2006 3:10 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

You realize I'll never sit on the throne again without looking for signs of sinkage, and the worry will keep me from digesting all the info from the sports section. I guess I'll have to switch to the funnies for throne room reading material!

 
At 2/10/2006 3:42 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ZS, you DO TO have brains!! Each according to his/her talents. ;)

Davey, you're the most enthusiastic expectant father I've EVER met. I love you for that. Your girls are lucky to have you! Benson too.

GWB, I'm so sorry that I ruined this simple pleasure for you! ;)
That's where I do all my pleasure reading too. The rest of the time it's all about homeschool stuff.

 
At 2/10/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger Miladysa said...

Every time I pay a visit to the ladies room I am going to be careful, very careful! :)

 
At 2/10/2006 6:45 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

sa, I've been leary of light fixtures and ceiling fans since I heard this. ;)

 
At 2/11/2006 9:44 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

you should also supervise anybody doing furnace work, especially duct work. Not only have these guys been known to do iincredably stupid stuff, but the way they do their job can save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your furnace.

If you can, make friends with someone in a union hvac shop! Especially one specializing in commercial. Those are the guys with the real technical knowlege, and they can save you a bundle. Yeah, your heating contractor will be pissed about having him critique their work, but it will be well worth it!

 
At 2/11/2006 12:57 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Agreed GWB!
We have a friend that was in that business. He saved us a bundle! Unfortunately he left town to be a plumbing inspector in the Twin Cities. :(

 

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