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Q: I’m adding a bathroom and utility room to my house. A friend of mine recommended someone he knows who does plumbing work as a side job. I have to say, I like his price a lot more than the bid the local plumbing company gave me. My friend says he does great work. Should I take the chance?

A: I’m sure your friend’s plumbing acquaintance does good work. And the choice of whom to hire is yours. Yet a key to any wise decision is to have all the facts before moving forward. Here’s some thoughts for you to consider as you approach your plumbing project.

* Anytime we consider spending money, there’s a truth we need to remember. “In the beginning there is price. In the end there is cost.” Everyone likes to save money. Yet if our decision is made strictly by the initial low price, we may be setting ourselves up for a higher cost in the end.

My wife and I are in the middle of a remodel on our fixer upper house at the lake. We wanted a fireplace. We’re trying to budget our dollars and didn’t want to pay the high price for a new fireplace. It seemed like a small miracle when we found one on Craigslist. It was just what we were looking for and they were only asking $100. Sure, it was three hours away but we’d be saving at least $1,700. So we made the drive and found it exactly as advertised. We were thrilled with our purchase until our contractor said the stove pipe required for it isn’t made anymore. As in anywhere. As in “even if you can find it the building codes have changed so we can’t use it”. We paid a very low price. But it cost us in the end. Not a good deal.

Speaking of codes, that brings us to the next thought.

* Licensed and bonded plumbers are familiar with current building codes. There are talented people who know how to plumb, build and wire. Yet if they aren’t full-time professionals in those fields, they won’t be versed in the latest local building codes. Your bathroom project, if not built properly and according to code, can be “undone” by a building inspector who can, depending on the degree, make you undo and repair or take down the entire project and start over. This can be very costly, essentially paying more than double for what could have been done correctly the first time.

Licensed and bonded plumbers will review your plans and let you know what permits, if any, are required. Building without permits when they are required is an expensive mistake. If in the future you want to sell your house and the appraisers and inspectors see that additions have been made that weren’t permitted, they can make you open up or tear down the addition because it wasn’t inspected. And the best reason to abide by building codes and permits is that if your house burns down and the fire started in the non-permitted addition, your insurance won’t pay for the damage.

* Licensed plumbers must meet state approved standards for knowledge and expertise. Few things are more frustrating in the construction process than realizing the person doing the work has “over sold” their abilities. Licensed plumbers have proven their competence.

* If you use an unlicensed plumber for your project, you’re likely giving up any right to warranty claims for poor workmanship. In the event of poor workmanship, you can voice your complaints to the state contractor board. They are unlikely to help you with a claim against an unlicensed person.

* If you use an unlicensed plumber/contractor, you can be subject to unwanted liability. If they get injured on your property, you could be on the bad end of a lawsuit even though you had nothing to do with the accident. Licensed contractors carry liability and workman’s compensation insurance.

The professionals at Sinclair stake their name and reputation on doing quality work that, in the end, will cost you less. Give them a call before starting your next project. They will be happy to review your plans and make suggestions that will keep your project legal and safe. 806-749-COOL (2665)

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