how much does copper tubing used my plumber to replace shower body cost?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by dayexday, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. dayexday

    dayexday New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    new york
    when plumber replaced shower body, he maybe cut a foot and a half of copper tubing and used some pre-assembled curved copper tubing to connect the new shower valve to the old pipes. He didn't really use any other material (other than caulk etc). He charged me 50 dollars for "materials". I'm paying the guy anyway but just curious as to if that's a reasonable amount to charge.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    He also used flux, 95% silver solder, emery cloth, some rags, gas in the torch, etc. None of that sruff is free. Most companies in ANY trade have to build in a charge for such materials in some way. Your auto mechanic probably adds a small line item for "shop materials" etc.

    Copper pipe is sold by the 10' piece, not by the foot. Luckily he probably had a few pieces of scrap laying around so did not have to charge you for the whole 10'; but those ells are not free either,
  3. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,052
    Location:
    Maine
    This is a classic example of why I went to flat rate pricing 10 years ago. Those questions never come up anymore.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,252
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; I went to flat rate pricing 10 years ago

    Correct. You hide the $50.00 overcharge in the flat rate. If what the poster states is correct, then there was absolutely no way the materials would sell for $ 50.00, and "shop items" are usually a percentage of the reasonable cost. Garages add a "fudge factor" of about 2% to cover them. Maybe he does math like the cartoon strip this week where the girl charged $2.00 tax on a $1.59 burger and then told him he did not understand the math.
  5. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,052
    Location:
    Maine
    Well, no not really because there is a set price for installing the shower valve that covers the cost of materials and even if it had taken more or less copper or fittings the price is the same.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,766
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I don't break out all the parts when I bill. If I'm charging by the hour, just the time to assemble the list of fittings, and then find pricing on everything keeps me from getting to my next job or project. I used some stuff, and after a while I determine a good average of what the jobs take. This job, I've done it enough times that to keep going back to the pricing and changing it by a few bucks up and down, when I'm losing time that could be billed on the next job just doesn't make sense.

    It's also a shorter conversation.
    "How much to do this?"
    Bam! Normally it runs $XXX.XX
    Okay! Let's do this thing!

    Just try to get pricing for a sandwich next time you go to lunch. Ain't going to happen.

    Say I'm installing a toilet, yes I know........
    I can use eight different supply lines, several ways of doing the seal, and perhaps three styles of closet bolts.
    I may shim, I may not shim. I dispose of the old toilet. I may be close to the waste recycle, I may not, and the weight of it may vary, so my cost to dump changes.

    Way, way too much thinking. Just get it done!

    If I'm speaking in front of a group, do I charge more if I'm more eloquent?
    Or is it better to be tight and concise?
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  7. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    Cost is beside the point. Profit is what it's all about, and no one can tell anyone else what their profit should be.
  8. dayexday

    dayexday New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    new york
    if the profit/cost isn't stated up front then it's reasonable to have a talk about it.

    in addition to the copper tubing, he used the regular materials needed for such a job (garbage bags, tape, torch, etc). I didn't think I'd be charged for that since it's a standard part of the job (when i go to subway to get a sandwich, they don't give me a separate charge to cover the napkins). The copper tubing and any other physical thing that stays in my wall/shower I certainly expected to pay for. And i completely agree with Terry that doing an itemized list of material costs is a waste of time. I feel cheap even griping about it but it's just annoying that he wants me to pay 50 when it seems like it should be like 20.

    it's also annoying that i hired him by the hour, the job took 4.25 hours, we verbally agreed on 4.5 and then he sends me a bill for 5. We agreed on 4.5! we spelled it out. next time, i'll only hire flat rate
  9. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Why don't you ask for a discount.

    I had one client where we had agreed on a price, I did the work and he misremembered the verbal quote.
    My feeling was that it was not worth pissing off a customer for a few dollars.
    He did later call back and applogize saying that his wife corrected him.

    Point is that a happy customer is worth more than a few dollars on a disputed charge. If you were my customer I would compramise
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,766
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington


    They just charge enough for the sandwich to cover that.

    If a plumber is charging hourly, then travel gets included too.

    A bid, or flat rate is just that. With exceptions.

    Many bath remodel contracts talk about visible work. When the wall board is removed and the bones exposed; there can be new work found that needs to be done. The first price is on the assumption that hidden damage hasn't occurred behind the surface.

    Just so you know, many of us have our way of writing up invoices. I don't bother to break out the parts unless they are buying a big item with an inventory number.
    Pricing "is" all over the board. It's common for me to compete against outfits that offer $75.00 off of services, and even with that coupon, I'm still going to be less at the end of the day.

    We have some guys in the Seattle area that are figuring their rates at $300 an hour. I'm not anywhere near that.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  11. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    If you did not come to an understanding of what you would be expected to pay BEFORE you gave the
    plumber the go-ahead to do the work, that is exactly the same as saying: "Charge whatever you like".
    The plumber does not need to specify anything at all as to how he arrived at his invoice figure, and does
    not need to justify anything. The onus is on YOU to work things out beforehand, to avoid unpleasant "surprises".
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,252
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    He gave you an estimate of the time he THOUGHT it would take, but sometimes conditions cause it to take longer. IF you had wanted a firm bid, like the flat rate plumbers give, he might have calculated 5.5 hours because they have to assume the job could take longer, (even if it does not), otherwise they would lose money on the job. He stiffed you on the material, but we don't know if he did on the labor also, because we don't know how long he was there. Plumbing flat rate is NOT like an automobile where they know that EVERY 2005 Ford starter takes "X" minutes labor to remove 2 bolts and the wire. Years ago my minister took his VW Bug to the dealer for some repairs. When he got the estimate, it showed that the three repairs each required that the engine be removed. When he asked why he had to pay for it to be done three times when they could take it out once and do all the repairs, he was told, "Because that is what the Blue Book says". He told the to schedule him for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because if he was going to pay to take the engine out three times, they WERE going to take it out three times. since he was not going to let them gouge him, they told him to go elsewhere.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2012
  13. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I have had a trusted mechanic for years. He will say " if we do this now, you save paying labor to take off the timing cover again 2 months from now.". No pressure...I get to decide.
  14. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,766
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I can charge less because I'm so fast.
    How fast? I like to think I'm Super Fast!

    [​IMG]
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,252
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I can charge MORE because I am fast, but because I am fast the customer pays less than they would have to someone else. As I tell them, "If you want a cheaper plumber, I can give you some names, but you will pay more to them". It is always better to be "fast" or "super fast" than "half fast".
  16. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Awww, HJ, you beat me to the half-fast thing:eek:
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