Cost to install pedestal sink vs. cabinet sink in new construction

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by lousygolfer, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. lousygolfer

    lousygolfer New Member

    I previously had a post about problems with my builder and now I may have a new one. Background: we have contracted to purchase a new 4BR, 3.5 bath home that is under construction, located in the suburbs of a medium-sized Midwestern city. We came in at a point where it is about half built - the exterior is now completed but the interior is only rough- framed out, with the electrical work and basic plumbing installed but no drywall up yet.

    My wife and I want to install a Kohler Devonshire model pedestal sink in the half bath, which is $375 less expensive than the cabinet and cultured marble countertop including sink that were included in the builder's specifications for this house. He originally came back to us and denied us a credit because he claims the Devonshire is $375 more expensive than the pedestal sink he usually installs in his houses. This is utter BS as we aren't talking about his other houses but this particular one which never had a cheap pedestal sink included in the specs. If he wants to justify his price with reference to other houses, then it's equally fair for us to tell him we are paying him only the amount we paid for our current house, i.e. half.

    Now that we have called the builder on this nonsense, he has changed his story altogether and is claiming that his plumber will charge him $375 more to install the pedestal sink than the cabinet sink. Right now there are a pair of water lines installed in the 1/2 bath that stand upright about 18 inches or so and there is a drain (if memory serves me correctly) but there is no drywall up and there should be no problems for a plumber to access anywhere he or she needs to reach (from either the 1/2 bath or the adjacent room) to make whatever adjustments might be necessary for installing the pedestal sink versus the cabinet one.

    So, is it actually more expensive to install a pedestal sink than a cabinet one in a new construction and if so, do actual plumber's costs (labor and materials) total around $375?

    In my previous post, someone mentioned that 90% of all builders are scum. I don't think we beat the odds with this one. He keeps getting more and more mad at me when I keep making points to which he has no good response about his arbitrary and ever-changing pricing and specifications. I think he's trying to gouge us everywhere he can to make up for our horrible and outrageous nerve to insist that he follow through with an upgrade that he contracted to provide that he didn't bother to price out before signing our offer to purchase, which he subsequently found out was at least $500 more than he initially thought.
  2. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    It is more laborous to install a pedestal verse a cabinet sink. Additionally the water and drain line may need to be moved, depending on the sink. Generally speaking a plumber will charge an additional charge for anything changed from the original scope of work.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    It sounds more like you are making changes, and that is always expensive, regardless of who the builder is. And usually the charges are whatever the contractor wants to charge, not necessarily what it will cost, and it is up to you to decide if the change is worth that amount.
  4. lousygolfer

    lousygolfer New Member

    The builder is telling me that it will cost him $375 more to pay the plumber to do this upgrade. Presumably if it costs more it will be based on increased time and materials. What I'm asking is if this change will take a plumber 15 minutes more or if it will be two hours more. If the former (which given that this is new construction, seems to this non-plumber to be a reasonable possibility), then I want to be able to back the builder off his exaggeration/misrepresentation which hopefully will have the effect of convincing him to clean up his act to avoid getting caught again, saving me money, time and aggravation in not having to question every last sum he attempts to charge us.

    I realize that the answer may be difficult to give accurately without seeing the actual bathroom at issue. Is it possible to post a photo in this forum and if so, would that be helpful in answering my questions?
  5. molo

    molo Member

    cold new york
    good luck


    I understand your concern. You may not get much sympathy here. Let me offer you another idea. It is sometimes neccesary to move drain and water lines to go to pedastal. That would take more than 15 minutes. If he wants to mark up the change that much tell him to forget about it, and to take the install of the cabinet off of the price and that you will have it done yourself. If he refuses to do this tell him you will be getting 3 estimates from other plumbers to install the pedastal, and you will be sending them along with a letter of complaint to your state attorney general informing his/her office of unfair business practice. Tell him once you have received the response from the attorny generals office you will be taking it with you to small claims as evidence.
    Then.... hope to hell he doesn't sabotage something else in your house.
    Honestly.. you are the only one who can make the decision here, Choose your battles carefully. Let us know what happens

  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Yakima WA
    I think you need to really think about whether a pedestal sink with not counter area is what you will be happy with. It's a very personal thing, so you have to make the determination. This is something you will pretty much have to live with for a considerable time, so any initial difference cost should be a secondary consideration.
  7. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Licensed Grump
    LousyGolfer...awsome screen I'm worse than you though.

    Pedastils are more work...especially if it's a Kohler widespread (seperately mounted handles & spout) they take more time and more precision...and if the piping was done for a vanity that means it has to be taken out and the heights have to be changed on both water and drainage.
    Also, the wall needs to be blocked - using toggle bolts instead of taking the time to block is both "hack" and dangerous...imagine a two year old hanging onto it.
    This essentially means the work needed to alter it is almost double what was already done.
    Then... on the finish, Chrome plated stops, chrome plated Washington trap, Chrome plated feeds are used...they are more expensive and more difficult to work with...also the faucet and drain install are a tight space it takes more time.
    I might offer a suggestion.....what you just did was a second even a thrid opinion BEFORRE you tell the builder he's charging too to keep a reasonable repore as the work goes along.
    Nothing is as demoralizing to someone who works hard for a living as someone jumping to negative conclusions due to lack of knowledge...then acting on those conclusions.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    1. The contractor does not have to allow any other plumber onto the jobsite until the owner takes possession.
    2. What he charges has no bearing on what any other plumber or builder would charge.
    3. If you want it, you will pay what he is charging, otherwise forget about it.
    4. You should have decided on any and all changes before starting the house.
    5. Normally the original contactor, whether plumbing, electrical or any other, will add slightly less than someone else would charge, but without a credit for the work that will not be done. This represents a lesser cost to you, than if he did the original task, and then you had someone else change it. This is not illegal, but it is commonly done.
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

  10. lousygolfer

    lousygolfer New Member

    Thanks for the input

    Thanks for your help guys. It looks like the builder, the second time around on trying to justify the cost of this pedestal sink, may be in the actual ballpark on the plumbing costs and I won't make an issue of this one.

    It's really frustrating dealing with this jerk because he keeps changing his prices without justification. When we catch him in an inconsistency and he can't come up with a genuine explanation for why his price has suddenly changed, his standard response is to get mad and spit out "That's my price - take it or leave it." For three weeks now he has refused to provide us with written proposals from several of his suppliers, claiming he is so busy trying to accommodate our "last minute" changes and "delays" that he has to get the quotes over the telephone and doesn't have written proposals. We know for a fact that he has most, if not all, of these quotes in writing because the suppliers' reps tell us they have e-mailed them to the builder (but refuse to share a copy with us, unfortunately) and he's often had these proposals for several days. We have been telling him for three weeks that we need to get all of the prices for possible upgrades, not just order them piecemeal, so that we can make decisions on how best to allocate our limited upgrade budget, but he either doesn't care or cannot comprehend that we can't just spend X dollars on the first set of upgrades without knowing if the rest of them will cost 10% or 100% of our budget.

    We've seen two other houses he's built, one that was beautifully done (which is why we decided to go with this builder), and a second one, after the troubles started with him but before we had committed anything financially, that was slopped together very poorly - lots of errant paint splotches, mismatched wood trim, broken fixtures and the worst tiling job I've ever seen with gaps between adjacent tiles varying as much as 3/4" and not a single straight row of tiles in the house. We made an issue of the poor quality of this other house with him and he became enraged at the insult to his self-proclaimed "outstanding" reputation. We demanded that he look at the house with us and tell us whether we were right or whether those poor standards were what we could expect in our house. He toured the house with us and with much embarassment, admitted that we were justified in every one of our criticisms about the poor workmanship, explained that they had put it on the market before doing a punch list inspection and promised that our house would not have any of these problems. Two weeks later, he's forgotten we were right about that house and when he can't justify his position on pricing, instead changes the topic and just yells that we're unreasonable because no one has ever questioned the quality of his houses before (which we haven't brought up with him since we resolved the issue two weeks earlier).

    Ordinarily I would refuse to do any further business with someone like this, but my wife and I have already invested so much into this house in terms of time (i.e., we've burned up a substantial portion of our yearly vacation hours at work scrambling to meet with the builder, his suppliers and subs on weekdays to comply with the builder's scheduling demands), money and effort that, along with the fact that the house has a truly unique design that we love, has a great location and even the neighbors we've met are super nice, so we feel pretty compelled to stick with it. Hopefully in two months we'll be moving in to our dream home with big smiles on our faces and all of the hassles will fade into the past.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2007
  11. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Licensed Grump
    LousyGolfer -
    Please, please....take it easy on the guy.
    He isn't kidding about the "over the phone" comment...I have to do it all the time...and I'm just a plumber.
    I make alot of estimates and quotes "on the fly" on my cell phone with suppliers while driving from job to job (then hopefully remember it later)
    What you have to understand is that he has a days work to put in...then he has a payroll to contend with...workers issues, insurance, and finally he goes home to his family.
    Add to that any seemingly simple change you want to add you discovered, a simple pedastil sink turned out to be alot of consideration for much more than it seemed like it "should" be.

    Imagine the entire job now, with every single wall, floor and ceiling having to comply with code...then when you change something, he has to consider how it effects any structure attached to it...he also has to deal with subs...electricians, plumbers, hvac, engineers and municipalities
    as they relate to it.

    Don't forget...the "jerk" is building your dream, your future...let him do it right, stop fighting him in the process.
  12. I didn't read any of the replies but I will say that between wall hung sinks, pedestal lavs and anything free standing in relation to a fixture,

    they are twice the effort and what people want in the finished product is uniformity. Meaning if those water supplies are not centered off the base you'll have to get in the wall and correct the dimensions along with making sure that the trap is within 10" *code* of the opening.

    Those are really a two stage process when you think about it. Having the fixture there and making darn sure it matches to the feeds along with getting a solid support into that wall will make all the difference.

    Between pedestal sinks and granite countertop installs involving kitchen sinks......I'm throwing a set fee along with my hourly rate to deal with the nonsense. Customers try to get a fixed number from me on those and I'm thinking I'd rather just pass. I can count on both hands how many "smooth" pedestal sink installs I've done in my career. :mad:
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Let me tell you a secret. When I get a proposal from a plumbing supply wholesaler, whether written or oral, there is no way I am going to show it to you under any circumstances. As he said, "It is my price, take it or leave it", and that is my stance also with extras and changes.
  14. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    There's another factor, which I'm surprised nobody's mentionned, which is that any change in the plans & specs interferes with the flow of the job. It's disruptive, creates extra co-ordination & planning & phone calls & etc.

    I always warn my customers, early on, during the planning stage, that this is the time to finalize every detail. Once I'm in doing-the-work mode, further changes will disrupt the flow of work, and they will be charged accordingly: not just for the extra work, but for the change itself, for the complications it causes.

    It's called a "change-order fee", and it's common practice, and it's only fair. I should get paid for the extra hassle.

    I assume your builder has no such clause in his contract, and he's trying to make it up in other ways. Not quite ethical, but if you're bombarding him with changes, he's got to re-coup those extra expenses & get paid for the extra time somehow.
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    Many builders don't allow extras.
    They have a plan they use.
    Maybe they have a few options for that plan,
    and then they build.

    Every change order means extra communication with all of the subs.
    A change in plumbing, means contacting
    Framing, does it need backing? or relocation of studs and joists?
    electrical, do plugs or switches need to move?
    flooring, does flooring go down first, or do they wait?
    How much time does it take, even for the conversation about the change, rather than time better spent doing work that pays.

    Yes, there are lots of builders that don't even allow changes.

    A simple change like a door to an exterior wall can mean payment and contract changes with:

    finish carpenter
    weather stripping
    millwork supplier
    electric fixture
    concrete slabwork

    Everyone of these would have to be recontacted with letters and follow up conversations.
    And how much is that worth?
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2007
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