Most homeowners are looking for ways to save money, and I totally appreciate that. I try to be very cost-conscious when recommending solutions for my Guelph plumbing clients. Often, I’m asked on service calls if there’s a way to save money if the client elects to buy their own plumbing parts.
The answer may be yes – and… no.
In theory, buying your own plumbing parts could save you some money. After all, plumbers have to build in some degree of mark-up to pay for the costs associated with buying those parts. (Time, transportation costs, etc.)
But there are a few caveats. The first is that, if you buy from an unknown source, the plumbing product may or may not be in good condition. I’ve literally had to spend time (at a Plumber’s rate) to remove a discounted product that was bought as a floor model, and was literally affixed to a piece of wood that once hung in a store. The floor model came with no manual, no warranty paper work, and no information on who the home owner would call for service or parts. It wasn’t a commonly-used brand, and I don’t know what the client paid for it, but I am assuming it was a “deal.” It became less and less of a deal as the hours accrued for me to disassemble it and reassemble it, only to find out the supplier had shipped the wrong internals. Then, it was my time to source an installation model.
Another caveat is that many parts actually cannot be purchased outside of a plumbing supply shop – and most do not sell to the general public. In the case of certain fittings and hardware, I’ve learned over the years simply not to use anything that I have not bought. I learned the hard way that my clients’ “new” fittings often came out of a box at a discount shop and the fail-rate was astronomical. I know the manufacturers that produce reliable fittings, and that’s what I stick with.
Finally, for reasons that should be pretty obvious, most plumbers will not offer any warrantees on products that they’ve had no control over on the purchasing side. Myself included. I’m happy to help people save money – but they have to accept responsibility for any deficiencies in the product. That cheap-o softener from the big-box discounter? Happy to install it, but not to guarantee that it works because, as it happens, they have an extremely high fail rate.
I often suggest to clients that they meet me at a plumbing fixture showroom or plumbing supplier in Guelph. This helps people get a good idea of the kind of quality products that are out there and that can fit within their budget. Together, we can make a cost-effective decision without sacrificing on quality.