Plumber says I can't have vertical radiators - is he spinning me a line?

(34 Posts)
KindleMum Thu 07-Mar-13 13:28:45

We are getting quotes for a major refurb of our "forever house", work to be done before we move in. We have a builder quoting who seems good and is recommended to me but yesterday he came back with his electrician and plumber and I really haven't taken to the plumber.

I hate radiators. I really wanted underfloor heating but it turned out that wasn't really the right option for the house. So we compromised on vertical rads. Plumber arrives and says no you can't have those. Summary of conversation from then:

Me - Why not?
P: Cos they're rubbish and you'd need 2 in this room.
Me: I don't mind having two, I was planning on having two. I hate horizontal radiators.
P: No luv, you just want one normal one under that window there.
Me:No I don't, that's right by 2 doors, I'd lose all the heat.
P: Anyway, you've a concrete floor, you can't have vertical rads.
Me: Eh?
P:We'd have to drill into the floor.
Me:Surely you'll have to do that anyway for a horizontal?
P:Yeah, but that's different.
Me: Why?
P: Just is. Anyway, it'll cost too much.
Me: When I've got the quote then I'll decide whether it costs too much.

I'm not used to getting building work done but surely I can expect someone quoting for work to explain better than that why he won't do what I want. Does anyone have any idea if he has a point?

I very much doubt I'll use him because he's also flat out contradicted advice I've had on combi boilers which makes me very wary and I think he's someone who just fits his favourite things regardless of what the client wants. But I would like to know if he has a point on the vertical rads?

LexyMa Thu 07-Mar-13 13:39:22

Utter bollocks. Go with your gut feeling and tell your builder to find a subcontractor who has got the client's wishes somewhere higher than the very end of his considerations.

Now, if he'd said a stud wall was iffy for the weight of a tall radiator, you might want to check. But still, not insurmountable.

No idea what drilling into the floor has got to do with anything. You could run radiator pipes around along the skirtings - they don't look all that tidy, but having just had some concrete floor drilled away to be reduced in height for re-screeding, DO NOT underestimate the incredible dust it causes.

Also, in my concrete floored house, the combi boiler output goes into the ceiling void, i.e. the floor void of upstairs. It feeds the upstairs radiator circuit, then drops down to do the downstairs radiators. If you had a tall radiator, that pair of pipes coming down from the upstairs could even be beside or behind your radiator, making it even less untidy.

KindleMum Thu 07-Mar-13 13:47:48

Thanks Lexy. I was actually prepared to be told that the rads could only go on certain walls, due to weight but he didn't say that at all. And I certainly won't underestimate the mess, it's one reason I want all this done before we move in. I don't want the pipes above the flooring, it's a house we hope to stay in for 20 years or more so I want to do it right up front.

About the only positive thing I can say is that I don't think it was chauvinism, I think he was just rude and lazy with poor communication skills.

Agree - get the builder to get another sub-contractor. And ask why you cannot have underfloor heating. Particularly if you have concrete floors. Is it because it would raise the level of the floors too much? Thought theree were solutions to pretty much anything. Also what was his boiler recommendation? Ask PigletJohn on here and he will be able to give you an idea of if it is a fair one.

Having been through this is you have alarm bells now I would really try and avoid.

myron Thu 07-Mar-13 14:03:44

Get another quote from another builder who uses another plumber?

You don't need to deal with someone who will try to railroad you into something you don't want just to make his life/job easier! Trust your instincts.
After all, you are the one paying for it - everything is possible....for a price!

Tip - If you know already the type of radiators you want, say so now so that the quote is more accurate. It also helps if you have a plan for all the positions of your radiators marking out any repositioned/new ones so that the plumber can see the amount of new plumbing/pipework that you want. Remember the TRV's. If you want to change the boiler/water tank, specify it now - including your preferred make/type. You want to reduce the amount of time arguing the toss later down the line about the lack of specification at the beginning which results in additional costs (speaks the voice of experience).

KindleMum Thu 07-Mar-13 20:10:19

I expect this builder works with more than one plumber as they're a fairly sizeable firm locally. But there's no way I'm using this plumber and he may well have put me off that firm of builders. I think I need a chat with their quoting bloke about it.

We are installing gas and central heating from scratch so it's all to play for and I want it done right. He's said a few things that entirely contradict what PigletJOhn says and don't make any sense to me which I think I will put on another thread.

We can't have UFH because the house already has 1960s UFH and the costs and work of digging it out (it's now unsafe) are prohibitive and we can't just disconnect it and put more on top as it's too close to the damp course.

I'm kind of surprised that people employ contractors like this. I don't want to spend thousands of pounds on being patronised by someone who isn't at all interested in what I want.

nextphase Thu 07-Mar-13 20:27:47

Yep, get someone else round - or tell the guy quoting that unless he changes plumber, he won't be getting the job.

When getting a patio put in, one bloke came and said we couldn't do what we wanted, one wanted to put the patio in the shade at the other end of the garden, and the (more expensive) one we went with listened to what we wanted, and then said he could do it, but we would need to tap into the drain, and it would raise the price slightly.

KindleMum Thu 07-Mar-13 20:44:44

I intend to get 3 quotes.
My attitude is that we know what we want, we know how much money we have, I want a detailed quote and then, if it's more than we want to pay, DH and I will sit down and decide where we cut corners. No-one else is going to decide that for us. And we may decide not to cut corners at all, just to delay some of the non-disruptive work for a couple of years. I get quite annoyed when someone else decides to tell me how to spend my money.

I'm sure by the time the work is done my blood pressure will have gone through the roof several times! At least you got the right patio in the end.

fossil971 Thu 07-Mar-13 21:34:10

They do cost a lot - it was £500 for the one in our kitchen. Look vv carefully at the heat outputs of different models because some are quite pathetic for their size. In a sense they are rubbish because they are often inefficient and overpriced! But if that's the only solution for the room, it's your call.

The pipes for ours come out of the skirting board with an elbow up to the valve. Not the neatest, but better than pulling up the floor.

KindleMum Fri 08-Mar-13 18:07:48

Yes, I'd noticed they're not cheap! But I really dislike normal rads and as they're a big part of how a room looks it's worth it to me. Do you like yours?

captainmummy Fri 08-Mar-13 18:12:39

I've got vertical rads and i love them. Got them off ebay and they have v impressive output - my double in hall is over 8000 btus. I paid about £300 for it, and much less for the singles in sitting room and kitchen.

Just a thought - you can get vertical rads that fit into the corner of a room (i had 2 in my previuous house) and the pipework could come down from above and be hidden behind it in the corner.

PolterGoose Argentina Fri 08-Mar-13 18:12:50

I've got something like this in my kitchen. Very happy with it.

KindleMum Fri 08-Mar-13 18:17:53

That link didn't work for me, PolterGoose?

Good to hear you like yours, Captain. There does seem to be a lot of choice out there, ironically even in the catalogue this plumber provided!

fossil971 Fri 08-Mar-13 22:43:27

Yes! It is this big momma . It's also about 7500 BTUs but we were limited in the width we could go to. It is worth looking out for a double panel one.

It doesn't get scaldingly hot because it's aluminium I think, but is lovely to lean against.

MrsPurple Fri 08-Mar-13 22:48:11

We've just changed from horizontal to vertical have refurb and moved from one wall to another. No reason not to have verticals, they can give less heat, so check the BTU's to ensure they give sufficient heat. ( we looked at what previous one gave to ensure we got correct heat). We added a few electrical fan heaters so if it got really cold ( as we had patio doors which are floor to ceiling) and can honestly say we don't get cold and only use fans if staying in the kitchen diner area, they also act as cool air in summer.

PhyllisDoris Fri 08-Mar-13 22:49:10

We have vertical rads in the new part if our house and they chuck out heat like there's no tomorrow. They get much hotter than our 1970s rads.

KindleMum Fri 08-Mar-13 22:52:37

ooh fossil, I love that one, the mirrored ones are my favourites! It looks fab.

So everyone here who's gone to vertical is happy, that's excellent.

Tessollie Fri 08-Mar-13 22:56:21

I measured my old radiator, bought a vertical the same width (cheapest on eBay) and my hubby fitted it with the same valves and everything so I would say he is definitely talking bollocks! It gives out loads more heat and looks lovely.

Mine was about £120 but like I say without valves, still cheap as chips though compared to ones I saw in ideal home show for £600 which pretty much looked the same

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 22:56:53

Am currently building a house and can tell you that builders will always do what is easier for them. We managed to haggle A LOT off the prices just by confirming prices given to us in other quotes that were lower for various things.

Get another quote and don't hold back on telling the builders why you are worried and what it may have cost them. They need feedback like that plus it gives you a bartering tool if you do go with them to show you have some misgivings.

You can get really tall floor to ceiling vertical rads (one of the builders showed it to us in a new build so it is bollocks about the drilling through cement) and he said it worked to heat the huge kitchen really well, and it certainly felt very toasty with the snow outside!

KindleMum Fri 08-Mar-13 23:03:37

I will certainly feed back honestly to the builder as I think that's useful to them to know. I have heard from a friend today that she used a different builder for her house because of this same plumber so he's a liability, at least as far as being customer-facing goes. Hadn't considered it as a bartering tool though.

Ginformation Fri 08-Mar-13 23:04:34

Our plumber warned us about some vertical rads don't have good enough heat output but I managed to find one in b & q in the sale smile which was a decent btu rating. Its in the kitchen and the cat sleeps by it, the warmest spot in the house. Maybe that plumber just hasn't fitted that many vertical rads before so he was trying to put you off.

noddyholder Fri 08-Mar-13 23:08:51

What nonsense you can fit them,the same as horizontal the floor means nothing and the output is,the same ifmyou calculate the btu properly

KindleMum Fri 08-Mar-13 23:14:03

We also told the bloke that our main requirements for the new central heating and hot water system were that it should be fairly quiet and should definitely be able to run more than one tap at a time (5 bed house) and he's insisting the best thing for that is a combi boiler.

Everything I've read in my prep on this and from PigletJohn on here says absolutely not a combi for running more than one tap at a time. So that added to my annoyance with him as it makes me think he just does things the way he wants or is using products he gets a good commission on, not doing what the clients want or need.

solveproblem Sat 09-Mar-13 06:34:38

I can't see how a vertical radiator would be able to distribute the heat as evenly as horizontal ones can.

Radiators work by convection heat transfer, they warm up the air and creates a natural movement of the air as hot air rises. A low, wide radiator would be better at doing this than a tall, narrow one.

noddyholder Sat 09-Mar-13 06:57:57

I fitted them in last house for space reasons. Plumber had no issues and it was definitely warmest house we have had.

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