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Why do plumbing jobs go wrong?

So you’ve had your eye on that dream new bathroom for some time and at last it’s being installed. But you have this niggling feeling something isn’t right. Maybe you’ve watched too much ‘Rogue Trader,’ maybe it’s just that the bath isn’t quite where you envisaged it going, or that it’s taking longer than you anticipated. Either way the dream isn’t quite going as planned, and you are now worried you have employed somebody who is either unable or unwilling to complete the job as you require.

Rest assured, the majority of those in the construction industry are genuine tradespeople, holding integrity, qualifications and experience. However, we are all human and there can be times when mistakes are made, or communication breaks down on both sides.  This blog covers some common problems that arise when plumbing or heating work goes wrong.

1) Find a professional
Firstly, use a member of the CIPHE or a professional/registration body to ensure you chose a tradesperson with the correct skills and accreditations to do the job. While word of mouth can be an excellent way to find a tradesperson, please make sure you still ask for references and verify any qualifications and memberships.

2) Be clear on the schedule
Good plumbers and heating engineers will be busy and may be booked up for months in advance. It is likely you’ll have to wait for the right person to do the job – especially so if you have multiple trades involved in one job.

To help avoid issues, insist on being given a clear, realistic schedule once you have agreed to a quote. If the schedule begins to slip, do talk to your tradesperson right away so they can explain why and re-arrange key dates to suit you both - many problems may be out of their control and as frustrating to them as they are to you.

3) Get at least three quotes
And give your plumbing/heating engineer some idea of your budget, even if it’s just a ballpark figure. You also need to work out who is responsible for sourcing tradespeople for additional works (e.g. an electrician/decorator/tiler/plasterer, etc.) and who is buying all the materials – will you do it or will you ask your tradesperson to source?

If you change your mind half way through a project, you are likely to incur additional costs, so be clear on what you want before the job begins.

On larger jobs there may be some unforeseen issues that neither you, or your installer were unaware of, so it’s wise to put some extra budget away just in case. If you have any concerns about the budget, talk to your installer straight away.

4) Be realistic
Buyer beware – the glossy magazines and designer showrooms may sell you a picture of luxury, but is it really going to look the same in your cramped bathroom or that tiny loft space you are converting?  Remember the bathrooms in showrooms are not plumbed in, don’t have to hide pipework, don’t have issues such as uneven floors or walls, or have to worry about where the water or waste pipes are.

You need to work with your installer to plan a design for your house which suits your room, lifestyle, adheres to all Building and Water Regulations (Bylaws in Scotland) and suits your current plumbing/heating systems. 

If you are sourcing products you will need to ensure that you have all the correct measurements, you have ordered everything you need and that it all hits the relevant standards. If you have not done any of the above, it will cause problems and delay when it comes to installation.

5) Expect noise, dust and disruption!
Last but not least, please expect there to be disruption, noise and mess while the job is being completed! It may be annoying in the meantime, but it will be worth it in the end.

To find a professional plumbing or heating engineer in your area, visit http://www.ciphe.org.uk/Find-a-Plumber/ or phone the CIPHE on 01708 472791