There’s a trend in the underslab plumbing and other related industries that I feel is necessary to address.
The amount of excavation many plumbers are recommending.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are unscrupulous business owners in this industry. Business owners who are more interested in filling their own pockets than serving their customers.
And I feel it’s important to give you, the homeowner, as much information as possible so you can make an educated decision.
Subcontracted Excavation Crews
First off, you should know the majority of plumbing companies in the Dallas area are one or two man operations. Because of this, they have to hire a subcontractor to do the excavation, or tunneling, under a house so that the plumber can make repairs to the pipes under the slab.
And there are a lot of these independent excavation crews for plumbers to choose from. So while the crews are technically working for the plumbing company, they are not employed by the company.
The Goal of Most Plumbers and Excavation Crews
An overwhelming majority of plumbers and excavation crews want to do AS MUCH tunneling under the house as possible. They do not want to punch a hole in the slab that is closer to the leak.
Why? Because the number one goal for 98% of these businesses— plumbers and excavation companies— is to make the most amount of money as possible. And more tunneling means more money.
But of course, this isn’t how they sell it to you, the customer. Instead they say it’s the best option for you and your home.
“Tunneling is safer for your foundation.” LIE
“You don’t want dust everywhere!” LIE
And they know well and good these things are not true.
Number one, too much tunneling is worse for your home’s foundation than creating an access hole through the slab.
Think about it, the ground under your house helps support the foundation. The more you tunnel, the less support there is.
And yes, once the repairs are made, they backfill the hole. But the more tunnel there is, the more difficult it is to fill in properly. Not to mention the changeable nature of North Texas soil. It’s possible once the soil has settled and shifted, with 10, 20, 30 feet of tunnel, you’re could be left with essentially pockets of air under your foundation.
As to the “dust everywhere” myth. There are tricks of the trade, so to speak. When done right with the right tools, there is very little dust to deal with.
We even have a “cleanliness guarantee” where if you are not completely satisfied with our final cleanup, we give you $100 towards having the area professionally cleaned.
We take your home’s cleanliness so seriously, we’ve had jobs where a customer comes back and didn’t even realize we had been there.
In-House Plumbing Goal
Our goal is not to make the most amount of money as possible. Our goal is to do the least amount of tunneling and to do what’s best for the customer.
Because we are more interested in doing the best quality work at a reasonable price, or as we like to say “A” work for a “C” price, we always suggest what is in the customer’s best interest.
For instance, it’s not unheard of for another company to recommend 30 feet of tunnel to repair one leak. Then use scare tactics to sell that tunneling rather than punching a hole through the slab. And that will run you about, $12,000.
But we will often suggest, if it’s possible, to punch a hole through the slab closer to the leak therefore needing far less tunneling. Our cost for this same job in this particular example? $2,000.
Now yes, we don’t put the flooring back once we’ve patched the access hole. But even with replacing that part of the carpet or tile, your end cost is maybe an additional $500 to $1,000. So you’re looking at a total of about $3,000.
$12,000 vs. $3,000.
Now full disclosure.
At one point we had a tunneling crew on staff. But in the end, it made better business sense to subcontract with an outside excavation crew. The difference, though, the owner of the excavation company we subcontract with used to be one of our employees before he went on to start his own business.
So he knows and works within our goal to do as little tunneling as possible.
As I talked about in the last post about pricing in the industry, many customers are shopping around for the best price. We’ll get a call asking how much our leak location test is. And we know other companies are selling the same test for a lower price.
However, that is just another tactic these companies use to get their foot in the door. They sell you a cheap leak location test only to come in and give you an unnecessary high-priced repair once they’re past the door— like our $12,000 vs $3,000 scenario.
I believe it’s important for you to understand the ultimate goal for the majority of these plumbing and excavation companies. You need to know what’s really going on in the industry before you decide what’s best for you and your home.
And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at 972-494-1750 or email email@example.com.
We’re always happy to discuss anything you’ve read here or experienced with other companies.