Long day yesterday. I had a Dr appointment, then I had to meet with the cabinets guy to replace the countertops in the rental house. That’s gonna cost me about $3800. Then I had to run to the hardware store and get the stuff to install our water conditioner.

The story there is that I had a slop sink and a water conditioner that I needed to have installed. I called a plumber, who came out and estimated $600 for the sink, and $900 for the water conditioner. WTF.

The sink was easy. It cost be $50 in parts to install this:

The water conditioner was a bit harder, but this is what the completed underground plumbing looks like. Service line through the wall to the water conditioner, then from there back out to the connection that goes to the house.

As you can see, we didn’t finish until 8:30 or so, after it was dark, but we got it done. Like my Dad used to say, you only need to know a few things in order to be a plumber:

  • Hot’s on the left
  • Cold is on the right.
  • Payday is on Friday
  • Shit won’t flow uphill
  • Payday is on Friday

That’s it. The only casualty was the loss of my cordless drill. The gearbox was destroyed because I was too cheap to buy a $200 hammer drill. The drill I broke was 9 years old. I ordered a new one.

Long day yesterday, which is why this is the first post of the day…

Categories: Me


Grumpy51 · January 23, 2024 at 12:40 pm

I LOVE my hammer drill…. don’t really know how I got along without one for so long…..makes VERY SHORT work going through masonry……well worth the money

    Big Ruckus D · January 23, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    A hammer drill is a must-have tool for a proficient DIYer. Personally, I’d use an SDS MAX rotohammer to go through a masonry wall.

    I’m wondering if the plumber you had provide the estimate was billing on time and material, or flat rate. I had an eye opening experience here regarding flat rate recently, in which I picked up a new customer on a faucet repair/replacement job. She had called a local plumbing firm that bills on flat rate pricing and was quoted (no joke here) $1200 (!!) just for labor to replace a widespread lavatory faucet on a pedestal sink.

    I was then contacted (by way of referral) and on arrival determined the existing faucet could be repaired, as it only needed new stems. Those had to be special ordered as the faucet was made by a company that is now defunct, and was never too commonly seen to begin with. I returned for a second trip and installed new stems and a new aerator, the total bill coming to less than $380, with $110 of that being the parts. A comparable brand new faucet would’ve run at least that much (fancy designer fixture) without installation labor.

    The other outfit didn’t even offer repair as an option, and just figured they’d screw this lady for $1200 to install a new faucet that they told her she would need to provide. At my normal billable rate, $1200 would be almost a day and a half of work. Hell, maybe I’m giving it away at the hourly rate I’m charging.

    Anyway, don’t sell us plumbers short. There’s a lot more to the job and needed/acquired knowledge than the type of project you did there. There’s also the investment in tools and material inventory. I’m sitting on over $12,000 of material, and probably almost $10,000 worth of tools – as a one man operation – so I can be prepared to roll on a job without making a stop at the supply house, or renting a specialty tool, every time I do a job.

    Of course there are bullshit artists who are taking advantage of naive customers, but a lot of us out here are doing good work and billing fairly. It bothers me that the shit bums are giving the entire lot of us a bad name. But that’s true of all the trades.

    As an ardent and accomplished do-it-myself type, I’d just say consider yourself fortunate you have the skills to avoid paying full tilt for work like that. It blows me away that so many people now don’t have the slightest bit of handiness to tackle even a simple little thing. I did a plumbing job a couple of months back whereupon finishing, the customer asked if I could change a lightbulb and put four legs on a chair (just needed 4 screws put in, one on each leg). I did both, but found it kind of depressing that they needed me to handle those things.

    I am thankful my dad was a DIY master, and that I was able to observe and benefit from his skills and knowledge. I’d never be where I’m at now in terms of either income, or my standard of living, if I hadn’t been able to build, repair and restore things for myself. Those skills have provided me multiple nice vehicles, other cool play toys and a nice home, mostly off the fruits of my own labor. If I’d had to pay others to going rate for all that I’ve done on my own, I’d have a much more modest existence.

      Jim_R · January 24, 2024 at 12:34 pm

      “sitting on over $12,000 of material”

      The shaft seal on the well pump at my parent’s place leaked after the pump had to be re-primed. Lucked out finding guys that answered their own phone. “If it’s not too old and it hasn’t eat up the motor mount, it’ll cost $; if we have to replace the pump, it’ll cost $$$.” The pump was a Myers, made in 1978, last worked on in 1998. They had the seal and the needed diffuser on the truck… Total cost about $250. How could they even charge that little? Two brothers own the business, the truck is their office, and they were on the next street over when we called, but still.

Dirty Dingus McGee · January 23, 2024 at 1:19 pm

Re; cordless drill

You can get both hammer and regular drill in cordless form. I have used the one in the link below for about 2 years now and will say it’s money well spent.


C · January 23, 2024 at 1:47 pm

I’d have run that with PEX.

ChrisJ · January 23, 2024 at 1:50 pm

WTH is that hose coming out of the sink drain?

You might cover that exposed PVC to protect it from UV and physical damage.

    Jim_R · January 24, 2024 at 10:52 am

    Agreed on protecting the exposed PVC from Florida UV somehow. Also wondering about that flex hose stuck up the trap.

      Divemedic · January 24, 2024 at 10:59 am

      It came with the sink. It was replaced.

T Town · January 23, 2024 at 1:51 pm

Getting a hammer drill for a one and done project is what Harbor Freight is for.

monster face frankensteiner · January 23, 2024 at 2:28 pm

Move some replacements in there and mommygov will pay for it all but it might get destroyed in the process or there will be 30 people living under one roof..
These things happen when people get the idea that a government that just loves them will pay for sitting in clover.
People thought the decent prices of everything under Trump would last but the glorious North Venezuela LARP is not cheap.
Forward! Si se puede!
Saw the dankest meme ever with glory hole Barry stating that it took almost 230 years to build FUSA and we let a muzz destroy it in eight.
Societies that stupid and useless deserve to be erased by enemies internal and external.

Max Wiley · January 23, 2024 at 6:00 pm

I have seen enough sinks with the water temps reversed to know that plumbers obviously don’t need to know #1 and #2. That only leaves three things:
1) Shit goes downhill
2) Payday on Friday
3) Don’t bite your fingernails
To be fair, I doubt a professional plumber would have used white PVC for the water softener manifold, I don’t think it is allowed by building codes for potable water supply. Running approved materials would have been more expensive and used specialized tools.
Not $900 worth though.
I’m with you, I simply can’t pay anyone to repair my vehicle or do anything to my house when I know I will be paying myself $100/hr+ to DIY, and probably higher work quality to boot.

    Divemedic · January 23, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    The water meter is near the street with a backflow preventer on it. From the backflow preventer, it was 1 inch PVC to a PVC ball valve, then a PVC to PEX adaptor, with PEX running into the house. The most expensive part of the entire exercise was buying the PEX banding tool. (It was $55).
    The entire cost, including not only materials and tools, was less than $300.

Danny · January 23, 2024 at 6:05 pm

Yeah – hammer drill is a necessity with masonry or slab.

Big Ruckus D · January 23, 2024 at 7:53 pm

And how many hours work did you have in it? Billable rate for a licensed plumber from a full service contractor in my Midwestern city runs about $135-150/hr now. I’m billing less than that as a one man repair service operation, as I don’t do water services/sewer laterals or remodel work. So, I represent a relative bargain, especially since top notch repair plumbers are in very short supply. What percentage of the population is naturally inclined toward being ace troubleshooters? How many go into plumbing, specifically?

Last softener I installed I built a bypass manifold on site, had to run a drain line from the softener to the floor drain, and all told had almost 4 hours installing and setting it up in the basement of a new home. You also bought your material and tools retail at a big box, and still dropped $300.

Point being, I don’t know what plumbers typically get per hour in your locale, but $900 doesn’t sound exceedingly high given what it would have typically run in my neck of the woods. Maybe for the prevailing rate there, it is high. I don’t really know.

I’m not faulting you for doing your own work, I’d have done the same even if I wasn’t presently employed as a plumber. I just think a lot of people have a unrealistic idea of what professionally done work by a skilled trade should cost, as in they are shooting too low to be realistic.

Certainly a lot of the cost a guy like me (or even a larger outfit) has to cover is imposed by government bullshit (and now inflation, which is more government bullshit). That forces me to bill more to cover expenses and still make enough to be worth the effort. I’m sure not working to operate at a loss, of even just to break even, there’s no point to that.

    Divemedic · January 23, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    I once worked as an electrician (when I first got out of the Navy). I was getting paid $11 an hour (it was a long time ago) but my time was being billed out at $100 an hour.
    Sure, it cost me $300, but more than half of that cost was buying tools that I didn’t have and likely won’t use again. A professional plumber is going to amortize the cost of the tools across 100s of jobs.
    The most expensive materials were the two Sharkbite fittings for the sink ($15 each), and a pro would not have used those. Time, not counting runs to Home Depot, was about 4 hours. A pro would likely have cut that in half, but let’s call it 3 hours to be kind.
    The sink took me all of 10 minutes and cost about $45 in parts. They were going to charge me $600 for that.
    Trades are valuable, but this job didn’t require a master plumber. No matter the reason for the high prices, there is no way that I was going to pay $1500 to have a sink and a water conditioner connected.

Anonymous · January 23, 2024 at 9:02 pm

As I learned while becoming a shop teacher
5 rules of plumbing:
Shit goes down
Stink goes up
Payday is Friday
The boss is a son-of-a-bitch

Joe Blow · January 24, 2024 at 6:11 am

“Like my Dad used to say, you only need to know a few things in order to be a plumber:”

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.

No, really, as a professional who makes a living based off your training, that’s a really asshole thing for you to say. I used to think better of you. 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.

J J · January 24, 2024 at 8:46 am

A tale of two plumbing companies in Texas. We had leak in water line running to the house. Called first company who sent an estimator out, not a plumber, and the estimate was $5000 to $7000.
Called second company who I found through a church business directory. Company 2 sent 2 plumbers who located and fixed the issue for $250 including the parts needed.

The One Where Joe Blow Calls Me an Asshole – Area Ocho · January 24, 2024 at 7:55 am

[…] 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 […]

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