Cash Flow With Joe

Looking like professionals

Looking like professionals


The cost of trade labor has gotten quite high lately in my opinion. I’m seeing some strange business practices with how companies are bidding jobs. And if you’re looking in the wrong places for help, it might cost you an unneeded arm and a leg — especially in the plumbing world. Let me explain what I mean by that.


The first instance had to do with our office assistant Madison. Her mother just purchased a home and moved in over the weekend. Come Monday morning, they found they had a water leak somewhere in the house. Not knowing what to do, they took to Google and called one of the big names that popped up. They called and scheduled an appointment.

The company had a “tech” come out quickly. The reason I put that in quotation marks is I wonder if he was a tech or if he was a salesman because once he was on site, he told Madison’s family that all the water lines in the house were bad and that they would need to replumb the entire house to the tune thousands of dollars.


This was a tough pill to swallow since they just bought the house.


I asked Madison if an inspection had been done. She said that it had and nothing was noted on the report. I told her that I had a hard time believing the whole house needed to be replumbed and that they should check with a local/ smaller company.


They did. And the local guy said the plumbing in the house looked practically new and he saw no reason to replumb the house. He did find one fitting that needed to be replaced and the repair was only a couple hundred dollars — not thousands.


Now I don’t know if the original company was upselling, if the tech was new or just didn’t know how to bid, but from thousands to hundreds is a big difference.


I also experienced something very similar this week on a rental property. We have a 2-bedroom, 1-bath single wide mobile home that we are almost done with the initial rehab —meaning this is the first time it has been rehabbed by us.

We had some subfloor problems that we needed to address, and we replaced the cabinets. Once we tied all that together, got the paint and flooring done, we turned the water back on. That’s when we noticed something was not right with the drains. It was not draining correctly and there was a bad smell on one side of the house. This was odd because we had just had the septic tank pumped.


We are on a tight timeline on this because we need to get this one on the market in time to be rented for next month, and we have other houses waiting to get started. With that in mind I thought it would be better to have my plumber investigate instead of us getting into it.


I called him and he let me know he was swamped at the moment and would not be able to get to us.


I started texting friends looking for a referral and found one who could come look at it that day.


He came and looked and told me that we needed a new drain system installed. Then he quoted me a price that was nearly the same as replumbing the whole house. And when I say nearly, it was $50 shy of the replumb, which was thousands.


That was a big number. And when I inquired about it, he told me had knocked $50 off hoping to get repeat business. But he was charging by the drop. If you aren’t familiar with that term, plumber figure the cost of materials and labor by how many places a drain drops in a house. So for instance: a regular bathroom with a shower tub combo, a toilet and a single sink is three drains or three drops.


This has always been a common practice on new construction and the price per drop normally includes all materials for both the drain and water lines but does not include valves like sink and tub faucets or toilets. But it does include hooking them up.


Anyway, he was just bidding replacing the drains under the house. And when I brought up the fact that he was not doing anything with the water side, nor hooking up any fixtures and asked him to justify his price, he kind of stammered, said that was the price per drop and couldn’t give any other explanation.

In other words, he didn’t know how to bid repair work, but he did expect to get paid a $75 “service fee” for coming out to over bid our project.

That was not a good business practice in my opinion, and I have still yet to figure out what service he did.

Anyway, I decided to go put my eyes on the house and see if I could see anything. As it turns out, we didn’t need a new drain system. To make a long story short, I think this house used to be somewhere else where the septic tank was in the middle of the house. When it got moved to its current location, someone hooked it up incorrectly and made part of the pipe go up hill. All we had to do was move a fitting and adjust the drop on the pipe and the drain system got back to working.


So we went from having to spend thousands to just a couple of hundred. That was two times in one week in the same trade. So be mindful. Just because they look like professionals, doesn’t mean they will bid like one.


Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to or call Joe at 678-986-6813.


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