In the last blog post, I talked about a disturbing trend in the industry where homeowners are being lied to about how much tunneling is needed for a repair.
This week I want to discuss a related and also concerning trend.
As I mentioned before, many underslab plumbers in the area are one to two man outfits who hire an outside crew—an excavation company—to dig the tunnel under the house. The outside excavation crew is subcontracted by the plumbing company to dig the tunnel and the plumber goes in and makes the repair.
In this case, the homeowner deals directly and only with the plumbing company. And the plumbing company is responsible for the work done by subcontracted excavation crew.
The plumbing company is the retailer whereas the excavation crew is a wholesaler.
But lately I’ve been seeing one of two things happening.
Excavation crews, in an effort to build their own business and to make more money, are going directly to homeowners and selling them tunneling at the retail price. Then they either offer to do the repair themselves—typically without a plumbing license which is not legal in the state of Texas (and if there are any problems with the repair, you have no recourse).
Or they tell the homeowner to hire a plumber to come in and make the repair after they dig the tunnel.
And similarly, homeowners are themselves going out and hiring day laborers to do the excavation and then calling plumbing companies to come out and make the repair.
We’ve been seeing both scenarios more and more as we’ve been getting calls from homeowners letting us know they’ve hired an excavation crew and just need to know the cost of the repair.
Why This Is Bad for the Homeowner aka You
While it might sound like this a good idea or just another way to get a repair done, it’s usually ends up costing more in the long run and can even put you and your home at risk.
Usually the tunneling is not done right and often it has to be dug out more for the plumber to reach the repair. Since the laborers or crew who did the digging were paid to dig the existing tunnel, what happens when a plumber comes out and says, it’s not enough?
You have to pay the excavation company more money to come out and dig additional tunnel. So already you are paying more than you were originally quoted and originally planned.
Next, the plumber was paid to make the repair. So what if something happens to the plumbing work during the backfill process? Who pays to fix that? Not the plumber. The plumber will only cover the work he or she actually did.
So in cases like this, the homeowner has to pay again for everything—the digging, the repair, etc. A plumbing company is only able to warranty work done by the plumber and a crew subcontracted by the company.
Using an Unlicensed “Plumber”
There are so many things that can go wrong in this situation. If someone tells you they can make the repairs but they aren’t licensed to do so, you open yourself up to countless potential problems.
Because they most likely don’t have the experience or the expertise, the work they do might not be in compliance with the current plumbing codes (if they even do any work at all).
You could be sued if they are injured during the repair because they won’t have the proper insurance. Your own homeowner’s insurance will be invalidated if something goes wrong.
If the job takes longer than expected, not done properly, needs to be redone, you are at the mercy of the unlicensed “plumber.”
If something is damaged, the repair makes things worse, the materials are of poor quality, there’s nothing you can do legally.
Here’s a short list of some of the possible problems that can happen:
- Foundation and other structural problems
- Sewer backups/stoppages
- Sewer system not working as it should
- Rodents and insect issues
And depending on the repair, you could be putting you and your family’s health and lives at risk like potentially deadly sewer gas odor issues.
Not to mention the potential danger to the plumbing crew themselves. In December 2017 a plumber in Flower Mound died when a tunnel collapsed while he was in it making a repair proving how dangerous tunneling under a home can be and why not just anyone should do it.
Honestly, the number of things that could go wrong are too many to list here. To be safe and know the job was done right and you are protected, I strongly urge you to always hire a licensed plumber if you need a repair.
Still Want to Directly Hire an Excavation Crew Yourself?
While I maintain that hiring two different companies is a horrible idea, if after reading this post, you still want to—hire one for the digging and one for the plumbing—give us a call here at In-House Plumbing Company.
Our top priority is you, the customer, so we will work to find a solution that works for everybody. AND we’ll make sure it gets done right.
For example, we once worked with a homeowner who had been told by a contractor they needed 25 feet of tunnel. But after our evaluation, turns out the actual amount needed was only three feet. Again, our interest is finding the best solution for everyone involved while looking out for your best interest.
As always if you have any questions, give us a call at 972-494-1750. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.