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Unlicensed HACKS Beware!

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  • Unlicensed HACKS Beware!

    Anyone else tired of the unlicensed HACKS undercutting licensed plumbers? I am sick of it and will turn in anyone every chance I get, in my State or any other State. If someone is going to brag about plumbing without a license..... BEWARE.





    ECONOMIST MILTON Friedman popularized the proverb that everything must be paid for, sooner or later, directly or indirectly; there's no such thing as a free lunch. Well, who is paying for the unlicensed plumber? Let's take a look:
    • Licensed plumbers, who protect the health of the nation though code and safety compliance, registered apprentices, workers' compensation and liability insurance;
    • States, cities and towns, which forgo license or permit fees (the lack of a permit prevents a municipality from controlling the work of the unlicensed plumber, which threatens public safety);
    • Residential consumers, who think they save a bundle of money but instead acquire substandard systems that will not be maintained by a professional plumber; and
    • Wholesale supply distributors, who allow illegal contractors to contaminate their customer base, producing a downward cycle of business ethics.
    In conducting a business review class for plumbing contractors across the state of Connecticut, I consistently hear they are faced with unfair competition. In general, contractors strike me as creative problem-solvers. However, many seem resigned to playing on an uneven field. From my view, contributing factors to this dilemma include:
    • The reluctance of licensed plumbers to turn in known offenders — no one likes to be a snitch, and contractors don't believe anything will happen anyway;
    • A scarcity of state inspectors to catch the unlicensed plumber in action;
    • Consumers, who want to run their own projects, think plumbers are overpaid, and do not understand the inherent health and safety risks of plumbing work;
    • Wholesale supply houses that sell to homeowners and unlicensed plumbers (home-improvement centers dramatically changed their business model); and
    • Unscrupulous general contractors who hire unlicensed and illegal workers to perform plumbing on large commercial jobs.
    I believe these forces produce a conspiracy of silence that helps unlicensed plumbers thrive. However, the public nature of the Internet can put significant pressure on these illegal operators. A recent Web search for "unlicensed plumbers" produced the following examples.
    The Websites of two independent contractors in Connecticut alerted visitors to the value of licensed plumbers:
    • One states that the law requires a license and advises a consumer to check licenses for the correct name and a designation of P-1 or P-2. Consumers are encouraged to look at the condition of a vehicle as well as the presence of the company name and license number. They are cautioned about drain-cleaning companies that may operate without a plumbing license. The educational and apprenticeship requirements to obtain a license also are spelled out.
    • The other Website leads with "Be-ware of the unlicensed plumber — unlicensed means unqualified." It explains that licensing requires five years' experience under a licensed master plumber and a passing score on a written exam. References to the hazards of contaminated water and faulty relief valves reinforce the need for qualified plumbing work. The consumer is encouraged to contact a local code official with any suspicions of an unlicensed plumber.
    The New York City Department of Buildings' Website lists license and renewal disciplinary actions for plumbers and electricians. From 2001 through 2005, actions were taken against 140 unlicensed plumbers, including fines, warning letters and warrants.
    The New Hampshire Plumbers' Licensing Board minutes report increasing issues with unlicensed plumbers, requiring numerous court hearings. The board is considering mock trial training to assist the inspectors with judicial protocol and procedures.
    Other online reports detail the outcomes of actions against unlicensed plumbers:
    • One reports a fine against a New Jersey plumber of $50,000 for working without a license. The charge was brought by the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Examiners of Master Plumbers and was prompted by consumer complaints. The New Jersey State League of Master Plumbers reported 78 guilty verdicts and 105 signed complaints resulting from legal actions pursued by their organization.
    • The other describes a five-year battle over the practice of three gas utilities using unlicensed personnel for residential service and repair work. In an out-of-court settlement, the utilities admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to pay $542,500. The settlement went toward the legal fees incurred by the local contractors and state associations that participated in the suit. The executive director of the Connecticut PHCC association said: "It has been an expensive undertaking. But it has proven that our industry can accomplish a lot if its members cooperate."
    This sampling of Internet information can serve as a rallying cry for licensed plumbers. Industry professionals need to actively raise public awareness of the price we all pay for imposters. State-by-state licensing requirements are available on www.contractors-license.org
    Be informed. Put the unlicensed plumber on notice — no more free lunch!

  • #2
    Re: Unlicensed HACKS Beware!

    Not to steal your thunder, but home depot and lowes cost you much much much MUCH more business than the fly by nighters ever will.

    So after reading your post further, you are saying EVERYONE is to blame? Supply houses, city ordinances, plumbers, customers?

    What exactly was the point of this thread? Was this instigated by the perception of materials thread?
    Last edited by stolen; 09-13-2011, 09:54 PM.

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    • #3
      Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

      I do not recall bragging about plumbing without a license, in fact I do not recall ever saying I did any sort of plumbing. (posting in a plumbing sub forum does not give basis for said accusation) Look at my posts, never any advice given on how to do a tradesman plumbers work, why cuz I am reading and learning instead of spewing bad advice simply because I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once. When I need something other than a toilet replaced, angle stop switched out, or a new facuet put in, I give my good buddy Mike the Licensed, bonded and insured plumber a call to do the work. On big stuff, I have no clue what I am doing aside from the basics, I can't look in a customers eye and charge them for me to learn plumbing. Same thing with big electrical jobs, I do not have my C10, I call on my buddies Steve or Brian, C10 contractors. I don't take jobs I cant handle.

      I could ask the age old joke "Why does a plumber's faucet leak?" or bring up the ol "some licensed plumbers are hacks too" accusation but I don't want to stir the pot much more, I wouldn't want to be accused of trolling.. :-"
      Last edited by masterbeavis; 09-13-2011, 11:28 PM.
      We don't have preventative maintenance around here, we have CRISIS MANAGEMENT!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

        Wheuhhhh! I thought they were on to me ..
        ''Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" Benjamin Franklin

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        • #5
          Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

          #1 Thanks Ironranger. I have been warning the plumbing trade for years about the culmination of issues that ARE slowly degrading and destroying the trade and value of your licence but most are too busy watching their business go down the drain to take meaningful action.

          #2 The big box stores do their part in this as do self help DIY forums where licensed plumbers seem all too willing to offer advice on any plumbing or piping problem to people that are not licensed and I don't give a crap how talented these folks think they are. They can be mechanical geniuses for all I care. The fact is that they do not have a license to plumb and therefore should not plumb. I have even heard licensed plumbers say that they actually get business because of diy'ers that start a project and then screw it up. Maybe so but they are few and far between. The VAST MAJORITY of diy projects get no PERMIT and no INSPECTION.

          #3 In deference to MasterBevis Reading posts about plumbing may or may not educate you depending on the skill and experience of the poster and I find that most diy'ers are all too willing to take the advice that suits their needs regardless of where or whom it came from.

          #4 This problem is not new by any means, read here -> The Baltimore Resolution of 1884 - Plumbing Zone - Professional Plumbers Forum
          I posted that back in 08

          #5 Licensed plumbers have been charged with Protecting the Health and Safety of the Public. That should be our number one concern, even over making a buck. It is why plumbing is a PROFESSION not just a trade. We should be doing everything we can to stop unlicensed plumbing.
          Last edited by NHMaster3015; 09-14-2011, 06:21 AM.
          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

            Don't even get me started..........

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            • #7
              Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

              This thread was not directed towards any one person. Sorry if a couple of you are offended by this problem. Fact is it IS a problem and if everyone would do their part maybe things would get better.

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              • #8
                Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                I'm glad you brought this up. This is a big issue in my city. I get so frustrated by this and its getting worse as people are more desperate for work.
                Spokane Heating - Spokane Air Conditioning

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                • #9
                  Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                  know of a few really good plumbers.Licensed but not registered .Working for their bosses and bootlegging on the side..Again really good plumbers that often have more side work than my full time work .Still I don't consider them competition .Theres plenty of work to go around.All their work is done to code .I just tell them you can have all the 5-11 work , I get it done during the day when you're slaving for your boss
                  ''Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" Benjamin Franklin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                    You know how hard it is to plumb, with no fittings?

                    Cut off their supplys and they can't operate. At all.

                    If they start carding everyone buying plumbing parts, then all these c-list plumbers and hacks will virtually disappear. Fine the suppliers per fitting sold to anyone without a license.

                    the only downside, is this forum will all but die since we will be soo busy we won't have time to complain online.

                    Now sure, it will still happen, but 99% of hacks will go out of business.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                      Originally posted by stolen View Post
                      You know how hard it is to plumb, with no fittings?

                      Cut off their supplys and they can't operate. At all.

                      If they start carding everyone buying plumbing parts, then all these c-list plumbers and hacks will virtually disappear. Fine the suppliers per fitting sold to anyone without a license.

                      the only downside, is this forum will all but die since we will be soo busy we won't have time to complain online.

                      Now sure, it will still happen, but 99% of hacks will go out of business.
                      That's the best idea I've heard in a long time. In fact we should make sure that anyone buying light switches or outlets is a licensed electrician. Anyone buying lumber, screws, or nails a licensed builder.
                      Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                        Originally posted by Devine Plumbing View Post
                        That's the best idea I've heard in a long time. In fact we should make sure that anyone buying light switches or outlets is a licensed electrician. Anyone buying lumber, screws, or nails a licensed builder.
                        Home Depot and Lowes thinks that is a terrible idea, they would go out of business. I have seen people in every trade with licenses do terrible work, rip off customers, and be downright D-bags.

                        How are you going to tell a homeowner that they do not have the right to work on their own home? Are they too stupid for their own good and do not deserve the right to buy parts? A general contractor cannot buy an angle stop or a wire nut, a plumber cannot buy a box of 16D nail gun nails, an electrician cannot buy a box of 3" grabber screws? That kind of statement is that? Sounds like some of you guys need to move to Russia where all of your dreams can come true.

                        A more appropriate answer; spend more money educating consumers on the risks and dangers of using unlicensed contractors, and spend more money enforcing existing rules against unlicensed contracting.

                        Here is a question I have. I recently passed my test for my B license (general contractor) I did studied the weekend crash course material, and read the actual book that was written for the State of California regarding contractors law. My question: For California, I know there are provisions for doing stuff outside of your trade providing it is coincidental and necessary to the work you are licensed to perform. A general can bid on framing, bid on stuff he is not licensed to do providing he hires a subcontractor, and do work that comes in the course of doing his job, like paint, drywall, flooring, etc. I have heard that you are not supposed to do any electrical work at all unless you are a C10, journeyman, apprentice, or enrolled/passed the certification school for electricians, but am unaware of any sort of restrictions on who can doing plumbing. In CA we have a $500 small work exemption where any idiot can do just about anything providing the agregate price of the labor and materials do not exceed $500. Alot can be said for somebody who is properly educated on sizing water, gas and waste, but in my experience, not much emphasis is made on making sure whoever is doing plumbing is legit.

                        It is a gray area on what a general can and cannot get away with. I know he cannot bid specific jobs where he is doing only electrical or plumbing, that is a no-no, but he can do electrical and plumbing during the course of his job. I am confused. Where does a General Contractors "General scope of work" end?
                        We don't have preventative maintenance around here, we have CRISIS MANAGEMENT!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                          Originally posted by Devine Plumbing View Post
                          That's the best idea I've heard in a long time. In fact we should make sure that anyone buying light switches or outlets is a licensed electrician. Anyone buying lumber, screws, or nails a licensed builder.
                          Funny you would choose to chime in on this thread Devine.... -Did you manage to get a plumbing license yet? -Are you still running your fathers plumbing business illegally, in Michigan right? -It only takes a search of this forum to see the disdain you have shown for licensed plumbers...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                            "It is a gray area on what a general can and cannot get away with. I know he cannot bid specific jobs where he is doing only electrical or plumbing, that is a no-no, but he can do electrical and plumbing during the course of his job. I am confused. Where does a General Contractors "General scope of work" end?"


                            You said you just took classes and passed your test and you're asking if you can do plumbing and electrical?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Get rid of one hack, two more will come to their funeral

                              I remember years ago when the County decided it was high time they licensed Well Drillers and Pump Installers. Some of the Drillers in my area thought it was a great idea. One Driller said that Licensing would get rid of all the scabs out there doing it on weekends and stealing all the licensed Drillers work. So they passed the law, we all got licensed and the scabs didn't go away. Truth be told, there are more now than ever before. The licensed guys are under the thumb of the Govt while the scabs just go merrily along. Try turning in an unlicensed person and see how quick the powers to be get on the job. They could care less. It's just a paycheck to them. That and the fact that the County has very little power to do anything to unlicensed people.
                              Frequently asked questions about pumps and tanks.

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