Ballpark Costs for Rough Plumbing for New Bathroom Addition

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by CTXRehab, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. CTXRehab

    CTXRehab New Member

    Messages:
    5
    This is one of those annoying posts that I'll pre-apologize for, as I won't be able to provide all of the details for a truly accurate answer to my question.

    What I'm really looking for is a ballpark estimate for what the work should cost, as I just received a bid from my regular plumbers I've been using on this project (who I'd been completely happy with up until this point) that seems astronomically high to me, but I may just be an idiot and not really understand the work involved. Hence this post. Many thanks in advance for any help or wisdom.

    The Project:

    I'm adding a new master bathroom to a house I'm remodeling in central Texas. Pretty standard layout (tub, vanity, toilet). The project is a bit tricky as the new bath is going into what was a later addition to the house; the addition has a slab foundation, while the main house is pier and beam. All the concrete removal for drains and vents has been completed, though, and a hole has been dug out underneath the footer of the slab foundation, to connect to the trench to be dug outside to tie into the existing cast-iron sewer line. The main house was built in 1950 and the hot/cold water lines will be tapped into the existing galvanized.

    The bathroom addition has been studded out from existing space in what used to be a den, so there's easy access to all studs for running lines. It's probably about 30' from the bathroom to tie back into the sewer line and about 20' to tie into the nearest hot/cold lines.

    The bid I got was for materials and labor and was for the rough plumbing only. It included digging out the a 30' trench for the 4" PVC drain to connect to the existing cast-iron sewer line, installing drains and vents, flashing for roof pipe, tapping into hot/cold water and running new lines overhead for the tub/toilet/vanity.

    Bid was for $5,300.

    Again, I know the details above are skeletal and that it's nowhere near enough information, but I was pretty shocked at the price. Previous work they've done for me was very reasonable, so I'm not sure what's up, if I'm just missing something, or if the reasonable bids for prior work were done with hopes of cashing in on the last big project remaining.

    I simply can't pay them that much, so I'm going to ask them to work up a bid if I handle all the trench work. Any thoughts on what a reasonable bid would be for just the rough plumbing for a project as outlined above (with all the concrete work and trench work already handled)? Many, many thanks for any advice.
  2. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    I'm a plumber, self employed.
    I have to put this into perspective...
    I lose jobs all the time, usually over price, when unknowing customers go for the lowest bid without considering risks of liability and lack of experience.
    In a world full of liability, high stock prices, increasingly larger bills for overhead/insurance, I find myself often cornered by homeowners or zealous new GC's that often don't understand the risks & expenses involved in my work.
    I'd be happy to give my thoughts on what he's doing, how he's doing it or how long it takes him to do it.
    However, I cannot possibly imagine giving you an accurate assessment on costs for a job thats thousands of miles from where I am.
    I can only hope that there isn't someone I quoted asking someone thousands of miles from me to rationalize cutting corners for me either.
    My advice to you...get other estimates in person, check licensing, insurance & references if needed.
    I will hint...the price WITH fixtures doesn't sound that bad.
    You can get lower, but you can also get apes to type a novel for less than a professional writer as well.
    This isn't a hotel discount package, this is your home.
  3. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    Second thought, I missed the 4" drain connection part..you really do need other opinions in person, even a seasoned pro could only grab at straws here.
  4. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    I think that price is rather low. There is more than laying pipe and saying "looks good". The guy needs to stand inspection also. That is time he could be doing some other work.
  5. Can't give a price without specifics.


    I'm soooo glad I don't deal with this end of plumbing anymore. I'd rather eat donuts till I pass out and die than succumb to being strung along by the bidding process.

    Goin' for donuts.
  6. CTXRehab

    CTXRehab New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Thanks for the responses and my apologies for not having more specifics, as no one seems to want to take a stab at it. Sorry for wasting anyone's time.

    The bid was also for just the rough plumbing, no fixtures, no shower valve, etc.

    I'm in the process of getting other bids but it's been pretty rough sailing, as the last four plumbers that agreed to come out never showed after scheduling a meeting for an estimate, the one before that showed, charged me $30 for an estimate, yet never sent an estimate, etc. So, indeed, I'll be glad to not have to deal with this side of the renovation business myself until the next project.

    Thanks again.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    bid

    I have done work of that scope for $3,000.00 and I have also had jobs that ran $6,500.00 for the same "scope" of work. Every job is different, and without seeing it there is no way to give even a ballpark, unless you use those two numbers as the probable minimum and maximum.
  8. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades


    You bid to the client, before getting your plumbers' bid? Or you're the homeowner?

    I ask because I'm wondering how much (if any) of that, might be permit fees & suchlike... also wondering why you "can't" pay that, esp. if they've been fair so far...

    I dunno. Just something about this, isn't adding up.

    Might just be a gut reaction to the whole "double-guessing someone thousands of miles away" thing. We don't post here in order to cut our brother tradesman's throat. It's completely impossible to have a clue without seeing the site, knowing what kind of lacale you're in (urban, suburban, rural?) and what your local AHJ is like, and... yeah. These kinds of threads bother me, just on a gut level to begin with, I guess.

    Your best bet might be to ask your plumber why his quote's what it is.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2008
  9. CTXRehab

    CTXRehab New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Frenchie,

    It's an investment property that I own which I'm rehabbing. I'm basically acting as my own general contractor on this job, and dealing directly with subs for electrical and plumbing work.

    Permit fees are $100. As far as the fact that I "can't" pay their original quote, that was likely poorly-worded on my part. If that's what the job really costs, that's what it costs, and what I'll pay. Similar work on two other properties I've rehabbed in the past in this area were in the $2,000-$2,500 range. Their other work was reasonably priced so I was surprised to see their bid at more than 2x that, which is the sole reason I posted here.

    I appreciate your feedback and respect your reluctance to toss out numbers, as well as respect for fellow tradesmen.

    All I was really looking for in my post is a general dipstick response (much like hj's), not bids or exact quotes. My own personal construction background is primarily in tilework and painting, and I was assuming (wrongly it seems) that I could post the bare bone details and get a general range of what jobs like that might cost.

    But again, thanks for the response. Sorry if it doesn't "add up" or if it seems as if I have some other motive here. Just trying to get a handle on what a fair price is for the work.
  10. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    No worries - if I thought you were really being shady, I would've jumped you. I'm kinda bad that way... I was just curious what the overall context was.

    Seriously, if you've previously had a good working relationship with this sub, I'd just ask him - as you're finding out, it's pretty hard to find a good sub - and he's really the only person who knows why he priced it the way he did.

    Bear in mind that plumbers do all know each other, he may already know you've been shopping it; and the others may be no responding because they wouldn't want him doing it to them.

    I can't even give you a ballpark, never had to deal with trenching - I live in NYC.
  11. JimmyPipewrench

    JimmyPipewrench New Member

    Messages:
    5
    one Meeeelion Dollars Hahahahahaha!!!!!!!
  12. 5 posts and I already like JimmyPipewrench
  13. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    I think the price is reasonable. If you're the GC have you considered working with him to see if you can hire out some of the aspects of the job that are labor difficult. Such as digging out the trench. You guys figure out a price. He tells you where to put the trench and you or a paid laborer digs it. I do things like this all the time to get better pricing on jobs.

    Tom

    P.S. The only downside to this is that if you do it wrong your bill goes up. I don't know anything about that!
  14. Grimace

    Grimace New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Slater, Iowa
    Outfield seats can be pretty cheap, say 10 bucks? It's also a good idea to eat a hearty meal before going, this will help avoid forking over a lot of cash for the over-priced food they sell (although beers are a must!) Keep the kids away from the rip-off souvenir stands and take public transportation to avoid the parking fees and you can probably do it for $60-$70.

    Oh...nevermind...I thought the question was "Ballpark Costs for Rough Plumbing VS New Bathroom Addition"

    :D
  15. CTXRehab

    CTXRehab New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Just wanted to thank everyone for their feedback, both constructive and non.

    After assorted hemming and hawing and drawing and erasing lines in the sand, the plumbers who'd been working on the project so far agreed to do the job for $2,000, if I handle the trenchwork and supply the $300-$400 in materials needed.
  16. smellslike$tome

    smellslike$tome Plumbing Company Owner

    Messages:
    92
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Enjoy that $3300.00 differential and start looking for another plumber because if he was willing to come off that much from his price he probably won't be around next year. I wouldn't rough in a future bath with pex for $2000.00 much less a 30' drainage run with 2, 20' water dist runs. The guy has probably been hanging on by his teeth or unlicensed or both. Either way I don't care where you are and I don't have to see the job to know that that guy is not a professional, doesn't know what he's doing (from a business stand point) and that that is nowhere near enough money for even the very sketchy description you offered! Check his insurance and wc immediately before he gets hurt on your property!
  17. smellslike$tome

    smellslike$tome Plumbing Company Owner

    Messages:
    92
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Oh yeah, and if it turns out he is unlicensed/uncertified to do this work then shame on you for hiring him in the first place because you should have checked and should never hire unlicensed contractors!
  18. srdenny

    srdenny Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    SF Peninsula
    You'd be wise to heed these words of John Ruskin.
    "There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey."
  19. CTXRehab

    CTXRehab New Member

    Messages:
    5
    I've tried to stay fairly civil in my responses, but with the exception of a few truly helpful posters here (who I'm grateful for taking the approximately 30 seconds or so it takes to try to help someone out who comes here with a question), many of you couldn't have been less helpful if you tried.

    Do you even care to know the particulars of the situation before you start accusing me of hiring unlicensed contractors and taking the lowest offer I can find? Or is it just more fun to go off on a new poster who, God forbid, has the gall to post on a plumbing forum about a bid he got that seemed far too high?

    If you'd bothered to ask, I could have told you that I've renovated 4-5 houses for the last three years, but the plumber I'd previously used retired, and this is the first job I've done with the current plumbers, who are two brothers )both master plumbers) that started their own business a year and a half ago, and still doing all of the work themselves, trying to build up their business, and likely willing to work with me somewhat based on the potential for future work. Or that they'd already handled about $3,500 worth of work on this house, all of which passed inspection with flying colors?

    Naah, that's boring, it's just more fun to go off. That's what the Internet is for, right?
  20. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    If they're looking forward to doing future work with you, and they dropped their first price that much, then they can look forward to you expecting a low price every time. The problem with plumbers is that they learn their trade assiduously, but don't learn much about how to do business or make money. Then they go into business not knowing how much to charge or why and run into someone like you. Most businesses fail within the first two years. The main reason given is 'mismanagement.' Sounds as if they mismanaged this one badly. I can only hope they learn quickly.
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