Architects & DesignersExpert Advice

Buying Your Own Parts

When homeowners need to hire a professional to come make a home repair, they often think they can save money by buying the supplies themselves and paying the professional to do the installation. However, because professional contractors cannot warrant products they do not supply themselves, it can often cost the homeowner more if there is a problem with the part.

Q: Aren’t the faucets sold in hardware stores the same faucets plumbers supply?

A: That depends. Some of the faucets sold at warehouse stores are not the same grade. Even the better known name brands make lower grade products with plastic internal parts that some plumbers would never use. There is a difference between a $59 faucet and one that costs $89, even if they look the same. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” is still as true as ever.

Q: How can I determine the quality of products I buy myself in hardware stores?

A: You probably can’t because you haven’t had a professional plumber’s experience from working on hundreds of homes a year, finding which products work best, last longest, and give homeowners the least problems.

When you hire a professional to do a job, you are paying for this expertise. This is true with other trades as well; electricians can’t warrant fans and fixtures you buy in the hardware store, tile setters know from experience that they can waste a lot of time struggling to set tile the homeowner bought on sale from a discount store because they often are “seconds” which cannot be set straight, a carpenter can’t properly hang an odd-ball door.

It usually takes more time to try to make an inferior product fit or work properly than to do it right the first time.

Q: Don’t manufacturer guarantee their products? Why would I need a plumber to warrant them?

A: Generally, if a part is defective, you call the manufacturer. With a faucet, for example, the manufacturer will tell you to remove the faucet and ship it back to them and they will either send you another faucet or a refund to reimburse you to buy a new one.

Either way, you’ll still need to pay a plumber to remove it and reinstall the new one.

If the manufacturer elects to send you a replacement, you will have to go without a faucet while waiting for them to send you the new one, then pay for a second trip from the plumber.

Buying their own water heater, for example, presents an even more expensive risk to homeowners. If that is defective, the manufacturer will send out a representative, usually a local contractor on contract to them, and some people have had to wait for two days to a week without hot water, for this specific contractor to arrive.

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