Maybe this situation has happened to you, or will one day occur: you are planning some plumbing renovations in your home and get a quote on the scope of work from a plumbing company. When you see the part versus labour breakdown, you decide to shop around and see if you can find the fixture for cheaper. You hop online and do a quick Google search and find the part around 30% cheaper at one of the big box home hardware stores. Great! You’ve just saved some money by doing a quick price comparison online, right?
Actually the truth is, it’s smarter to buy fixtures through your plumbing company. You may spend a little more upfront, but not as much as you think. Plus the protection you will get from damage will make it worth it. Let’s break down why…
The Big Box Catch-22
Big box stores almost always sell a cheaper line of products than you would get from a plumbing supply company or even directly from the manufacturer. This is because these large retail chains want to keep their prices low, and sell in quantities high enough that manufacturers will actually make custom products exclusively for their stores.
Here’s the part that misleads customers – these models sometimes look identical to those from plumbing supply stores (where your plumber shops), and yet have lower quality internal parts. Generally, this means plastic instead of metal. The outcome? The products from big box stores wear out much sooner, and you’ll be looking at replacement plus more labour costs. Plus the big box stores often don’t sell internal parts separately.
Now is when you might be thinking, “Ok, but can those higher quality versions myself at a plumbing supply store?”
The Deal With Plumbing Supply Stores
Yes, you can shop at some plumbing supply stores and showrooms (some are not open to the public), but you will pay more than a plumbing company or contractor would. This is because these businesses have accounts that get them discounts. The same goes with purchasing direct from manufacturers’ websites.
And here’s an additional important point to remember: if a product were to be defective and needed to be replaced under warranty, standard practice is that a plumber/contractor would not handle this for purchases he/she had not made for you.
Breaking Down Warranties
This might seem odd since we are talking about a manufacturer’s warranty coverage. However, the reason is if a company did not supply or recommend the part, they cannot be reasonably held responsible for its performance and the cost of seeking out a warranty exchange, particularly as it could be with a company this company has no relationship with and that is difficult to contact.
So, how long will you have warranty coverage if you buy everything through your plumber? While we can’t speak for all companies, Hy-Mark offers the first year after installation of labour coverage, and the first 2 years of parts coverage on our retrofit jobs. The nice thing is if you purchase your parts through your plumber, not only will you have replacement coverage for those 2 years, you will also have coverage of any damage that could result from a part failure. If you purchase your own fixtures, this may not apply if it’s determined the item was defective.
In the End
In the end, we recommend investing wisely in your plumbing fixtures in order to save yourself money and hassle. You may save a bit up front buying from big-box retailers, but you get what you pay for. If you allow the same plumbing company you are entrusting to do work in your home to purchase your parts for you, you will likely get higher quality and performance from those products, plus warranties that offer you peace of mind.
Want a quote on your plumbing job? Give us a call at (800) 727-0750.