I apparently touched a nerve. Joe takes issue with me when I have a problem with plumbers charging $750 an hour for a simple job that a DIY homeowner can do for a fraction of the cost, including buying tools to do the job. Thinking that he is clever, he tries to turn it around on me by saying that
That remindeds me of the look on the ER Doctor’s face when I told my son I use Super Glue instead of paying $1500 dollars for a 3rd rate butterfly stitch and a bandaid.
I’ve got news for you- I agree with you. People come to the ED for some of the dumbest reasons, and if you went to the ED for a butterfly strip and a bandaid, you are part of that group. I see people every day who come in for flu symptoms and other minor maladies instead of buying over the counter medications. When I was a street medic, I often was called to the dumbest things you’ve ever heard of. Women with menstrual cramps, a woman who was hot and didn’t know how to change her thermostat, a woman with a flat tire.
Each of them could have benefitted from knowing how to do it themselves. The same as the plumbing job. Know that the plumbing company that is charging me $750 isn’t paying their employees anything close to that amount. It isn’t the professional making a living from his skills that is charging that kind of money. That guy is likely making less than $30 an hour.
When I was working as an electrician in the mid 90s, the company that I worked for was charging $100 an hour with a 4 hour minimum for emergency service while paying me $11 an hour. So the company got $400 and paid me $44. My service vehicle was a beat up old postal jeep for a year, and the second year I got upgraded to a used UPS delivery truck. I get that there is other overhead, but not that much. At $750 an hour, you are looking at charging 25 times the rate that they are paying that plumber.
As a business owner both past and present, I understand the costs associated with running a business are higher than than the costs paid to the person doing the job, but charging 20 or 30 times more than what you are paying your plumbers goes beyond that and causes people to want to do the job themselves.
Remember that a business isn’t just just competing against other businesses, but also against the DIY community. If McDonald’s charges $100 for a burger, people will go to Burger King or to another competitor. If they all charge that much, people will just stay home and cook burgers for themselves.
The same is true of any business. Installing that sink was a 15 minute job that cost me $50 in parts, yet the plumber wanted $600 for it. I found a plumber working on a nearby construction site and offered him $100 to do it. He agreed, but then didn’t show, so I did it myself.
I once had a drainage problem in my old house and called a plumber. Actually, a few plumbers over a six year period. No one could fix the problem. One plumber ran a camera on a snake down my drains and didn’t find the problem, then told me there was nothing wrong and billed me $500. The sinks clogged again three days later. After six years, I finally found the problem- I changed every AAV valve in the house (it cost me $100) and never had the problem again.
I do lots of stuff for myself- I repair brakes on my car, do my own oil changes, do many of my own home repairs, and cook my own food. Are there times I hire a pro, recognizing that the job is beyond my capabilities? You bet your ass, but I am NOT paying someone $600 to hook up a sink or $900 to hook up a water conditioner. A job I learned to do myself by watching a YouTube video. That’s part of what being a functional human that doesn’t need to call people charging inflated prices for something simple means.
I will also say to Joe Blow that his comment violated the rule that this blog has about personal attacks. I allowed it because he is a long time commenter, but that is the only mulligan you get:
I hope your hack-job on the water pipe bursts and floods your brand new basement and your homeowners denies your claim because you were unlicensed.
The joke is on you, asshole. Houses in Florida don’t have basements, and the entire plumbing job is in the garage or just outside of it, which is below the grade of the rest of the house. That’s what “shit goes downhill” part of the rules of plumbing covers. See how easy it is?