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Plumber vs 'bathroom company' ?

(15 Posts)
SunnyUpNorth Mon 31-Oct-16 11:26:14

We are attempting to replace our main family bathroom and our en suite. I was really excited about this, we have been in our house 4.5 years saving for this but it now just seems to be becoming more stressful than it is worth!

We had three quotes, all from people who seem to specialise in bathroom installation. One was extortionate and would only do supply only with high end stock, one was mid range price but wasn't available til Feb. The third one quoted a good price and is the only one who had actually been recommended (knocked on the door of someone's house nearby who was having the same work as us done). He could start within a week or two of us having our stuff delivered/ready to collect from plumbers merchant.

All sounded good, we cracked on with deciding what to go for. I asked for a quote in writing, he gave us a verbal quote and said once we had decided what we were definitely having he would come back to assess and give us a final quote. He also sent his tiler and joiner around to have a look so they could give him their prices. After the second assessment of the job he repeated the same quote and said it would include the tiler and joiner but if we required any plastering (I hadn't decided whether to go fully tiled or not) or electrician (may change lights, install new fan etc) that would be extra, fine.

Still only a verbal quote. Most of our stuff has now been ordered or delivered so I asked again for a written quote as when I mentioned a couple of things he said I was adding them on as additional work when we had in fact had a detailed conversation about it the first time he came over. So he came out again with a second joiner as he felt his first joiners price was a bit high.

He then emailed me a written quote that was £1k more than his original quote and said that I would also have to pay the joiner directly which would be £770. His new quote does now include some minimal work by the plasterer and electrician, so overall about £1400 more than I was expecting.

I have queried the change in price by email, been 4 or 5 days and haven't heard back.

So I'm starting to look for quotes again as most of the stuff is on the way and we are keen to go ahead.

I've found a few plumbers on checkatrade with good ratings who seem to just do a mix of general plumbing, heating and full/partial bathroom installations. All the ones I've contacted (yet to have quotes) are ones with good reviews for bathroom installations amongst their feedback. They all seem to be able to start within a week or two.

We had a very bad experience a few years ago having a new driveway installed. We opted to go for a fancy driveway company rather than a general groundworks type company. They charged a fortune and did a terrible job. We both really liked the guy doing it and so have totally lost trust in our instincts about people!!

In my long, ranty (clearly need to get it off my chest!) way what I am asking is: should a general plumber, who isn't doing bathroom installations day in day out, still be fine to do a good job installing two whole bathrooms? Is it ok that they are available soon as opposed to having to wait weeks/months?

Will I have to arrange other trades like plasterer,tiler etc myself? Is it likely to be cheaper that way although perhaps slightly more of a headache?

I just don't understand why it is so hard to find a decent, honest tradesman these days. I have asked around so many people and every single person I know who has had work done on their bathroom said they would definitely not recommend who they used.


PigletJohn Mon 31-Oct-16 12:03:57

IMO, plumbers are good at plumbing. They are not necessarily any good at running a business, including quoting, billing, and managing other people.

So I would go for a plumber to fit the suite, then an electrician, find a carpenter or joiner to do the floor, door, architrave and skirting, and a plasterer, and a tiler. Consult the tiler to see where he wants Backer board rather than plasterboard. If you can find one good worker, ask who he recommends in another trade. People tend to hang around with people who are equally good (or bad).

Having been a PM on large contracts, I am taken aback at how difficult it is to get trades for little domestic jobs.

A small builder ought to be able to do it, but will usually have one or two trades that he can do well, and several others that he can do badly. When he uses subcontractors you will be paying for both of them, and there may be a "not my responsibility" squabble.

Kitchen fitters are notorious for shoddy and non-compliant electrical and plumbing work out of sight behind the tiles and shiny units.

SunnyUpNorth Mon 31-Oct-16 12:16:17

Great advise, thanks PJ.

I don't mind organising the diff trades myself it is more that I don't know what order they would all need to come in and I thought it might take a lot longer/be more fiddly.

Have three plumbers coming this week so will ask them.


SunnyUpNorth Tue 08-Nov-16 17:39:50

PJ, could I just ask what you think would be a reasonable/expected price for the labour for replacing a bathroom?

I have had a search of old threads and the prices vary soooo much. I know it's slightly a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question.

We are replacing two bathrooms. I think both fairly straight forward and standard, the only quirk is moving the loo in one of them.

The main bathroom is around 1.8m wide by around 2.3m long. It currently has a normal bath with panel, a loo, pedestal sink and separate shower enclosure.

We are replacing everything pretty much like for like. It is fully tile at the mo so that will have to come off. New tiles are going the whole way around up to 1.1m high and then the height of the shower enclosure. Also the floor which will be about 4msq max.

Only electrical work is moving the pulley light from inside to a switch outside but is on the same wall.

So a pretty basic swop with minimal changes. Going for nice quality things but no very expensive labelled items.

Quotes are varying quite a lot but some include plasterer but not joiner or electrical, others joiner but not plasterer etc. So am trying to tally everything up but not sure what I'm aiming for really.

We are in the North West between Liverpool and Manchester.

MightyMeerkat Tue 08-Nov-16 17:56:33

I've just had a plumber do my bathroom - it cost approx £5500 including all fittings so cheaper than a bathroom installation company. The trade off however was that the plumber kept disappearing to deal with plumbing emergencies so the job took 10 weeks instead of the expected 2. Also, the design of the bathroom is not ideal - if I had gone for a bathroom installation company then I think they would have been able to better advise me about what would work best in the space. Finally the finish is perhaps not as good as it could be - plumbers are great at plumbing but maybe not some of the other things like fitting the light or plastering the wall.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 08-Nov-16 23:07:13

Thanks Mighty, sounds similar to us. It stated looking like around £12k to do both bathrooms with fittings.
Just wondered if that was 'normal'.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 08-Nov-16 23:07:50

Should says 'it's' not 'it stated'!

Wrinklytights Tue 08-Nov-16 23:25:29

It totally depends on the cost of you fixtures and fittings as that can vary so much and if you're moving stuff around the plumbing will cost more. For the labour - how long is it going to take them? That will give you an idea if it sounds reasonable or not.

SunnyUpNorth Wed 09-Nov-16 10:12:04

I know the the whole bathroom budget depends on the fixtures and fittings but surely the labour is roughly the same whether you're putting in a £100 bath or a £1000 bath? If anything I would expect (in general) better quality items to be easier to fit.

Hence why I am asking in an average sized bathroom, how much a like for like swop should roughly cost.

I realise that the second bathroom will be slightly more due to relocating the toilet. I have outlined the details of the more straightforward bathroom to get a guide.

YelloDraw Wed 09-Nov-16 13:01:44

I'm about to pay just over £4k for taking out bathroom, putting in new one, building a false wall for toilet cistern and fully tiling. Fittings and tiles on top of that.

YelloDraw Wed 09-Nov-16 13:02:35

Oh that also includes skimming walls and cealing or mayby over boarding cealing.

Bathrrom is 1.7m x 3.2m

YelloDraw Wed 09-Nov-16 13:05:32

Oh, my quote also includes replacing door frame, adding in an electric point where there isn't one, and an electric extractor fan, and fitting new door, fitting new light, moving light switch.

FinallyHere Wed 09-Nov-16 13:33:59

I feel your pain, My first contact with plumbers to refurbish a downstairs WC started in Feb this year, installation Finally completed in October. Still in the process of getting a deposit back from one of the many people who looked at the job, provided a ( reasonable) quote, took a deposit and then yes, disappeared off the face of the earth.

user1471549018 Wed 09-Nov-16 14:05:21

It may just be me, but if he has been recommended and you have seen his work (have you inspected neighbour's bathroom?) and he can start soon I'd probably still go with the original plumber. The quote has increased by about 10% but it does include more work, and as you say the other quotes were more guestimates. But then reliable trades people are like gold dust round here and no way would i want to project manage this myself, especially without contacts, it will end up dragging on for months.

SunnyUpNorth Fri 11-Nov-16 09:53:54

Yes I'm a bit torn User, as his quote is still reasonable but it was the fact that he changed it when we hadn't changed anything about the job. One of the reasons he mentioned for changing it was that his original quote was what he charges for bathroom installations in a nearby area that is less affluent! So basically admitting he charges a premium where I live. I think that is just outrageous.

I haven't seen the bathroom of the people who live nearby. I tried to call around a couple of times but they weren't in. He is very cocky and arrogant and I just think having him in the house for two weeks might be hard work as we seem to clash. So it's whether the price and getting the work down quickly is worth the potential personality clash!!

I am having a few things made such as a window and vanity unit that is taking longer than expected. So I'm thinking I might just wait til the new year now to get the work down rather than trying to rush it before Christmas and be worried about things not being ready in time.

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