Television renovation shows are not reality when it comes to a bathroom renovation. Sadly that’s the benchmark too many people use when they call us to discuss a bathroom renovation. We always know when a client phones and asks “how long does a bathroom renovation take” that they will have unreal expectations.
The reality is that a well-planned bathroom renovation will take at least 4-6 weeks. A poorly planned bathroom renovation takes forever and is the most frustrating experience for everyone.
Your bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms to renovate and will need to last you at least ten years. What is hugely fashionable today will not be in two years.
A bathroom renovation is never straightforward and is all about planning, planning and more planning.
Get A Professional Design
There is a multitude of online tools that make designing a bathroom look easy. The reality is that doing your own design can be a false economy.
Getting the floor plan design right from the beginning is your number one priority. I guarantee it will save you money in the long term. A professional bathroom designer will ensure you get what you want. Everyone else involved with the bathroom renovation will be able to give you precise costings based on the design plans.
Remember it’s your bathroom so don’t be intimidated by a bathroom designer. Work with their suggestions and opinions to get the bathroom you want.
Relocating Plumbing is Expensive
relocation of plumbing starts with exploration to discover where the drains are hidden in walls
If you have a concrete slab, then relocating water pipes and drains is expensive. If you have a wooden floor and can get under the house, the relocation of your plumbing is much simpler.
In our experience, the unnecessary relocation of drains frequently causes budget blowouts. Utilising your existing plumbing layout will significantly reduce the cost of your bathroom renovation.
Even marginal changes can cause a budget blowout because the plumbing located in the concrete slab can be vastly different once we start exposing it.
As I said, a wooden floor where there is access to the plumbing underneath is a vastly different proposition because all of the plumbing is visible. This gives you much more scope in your bathroom renovation to rearrange the layout of your fixtures.
Draw Up a Specification
demolishing your existing bathroom creates a mess very fast
A precise specification of what you want in your bathroom renovation will save everyone a lot of heartache and frustration once work begins.
Project managing your bathroom renovation is not hard providing you have clear floor design plans and precise, unambiguous specifications.
Checklists are a must for your budget peace of mind for the tiler, electrician, plumber, plasterer and painter. This ensures everyone knows what their tasks are and where they stand from the beginning.
If it’s not written down, then you can guarantee you will get a continuous flow of variations that will blow your budget to pieces.
Avoid Reusing Parts of Your Existing Bathroom
The best way to renovate a bathroom is to strip everything back to the bare floor and framework. Keeping parts of your existing bathroom defeats the purpose of having a brand new bathroom.
We frequently see clients keeping the existing ceiling, but it saves very little and is frustrating working around it to install new lighting and extraction fans.
Reusing bathroom fixtures such as the mixer taps or toilet suite or bath save little as it means we have to remove them, clean them up and reinstall them carefully. All you are saving on is the cost of the fixture, which these days is often marginal.
Use Quality Fixtures and Fittings
Opting for cheap no brand plumbing fixtures will lead to future maintenance problems. Frequently if there is no manufacturers brand name visible, then the plumbing fixtures are a poor quality that will not last past a couple of years.
There are plenty of quality taps and toilets that will not squeeze your budget. Avoid fashionable colours in taps as in my opinion chrome never goes out of fashion and always cleans up well.
Investing in good quality custom built vanity cabinets will give you much more value and aid the functionality of the bathroom. Investing in a quality frameless shower screen will again support the functionality of the bathroom.
Planning is the Answer
As I said, previously, the key to a bathroom renovation is about the preparation. A well-planned bathroom renovation with precise specifications ensures that the work requirements are clear and everyone will happily fulfil their obligations.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we frequently get a phone call asking does insurance cover water leaks? Every week we are called upon to deal with insurance companies or assessors on behalf of clients when they have sustained water damage to their home.
With water leaks just like everything else to do with insurance, there seem to be multiple grey areas with numerous interpretations. It is our experience we find every time we deal with an insurance company where the circumstances of the water leak are similar to previous we meet with a different response.
The product disclosure statement issued with your policy is where we find all the confusion starts. This is where the insurance company hopefully discloses what is covered by your policy. If you find the product disclosure statement confusing then call the insurance company to clarify what the coverage is that you are paying for. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question. Also, remember insurance companies record all calls, so keep diary notes of when you called and who you spoke to. Better still send them an email confirming your phone call and what your understanding was of the answers you received. This creates an electronic paper trail that can be utilised at a later date.
Important Definitions & Clauses
There are three important definitions and clauses which appear to apply to the question does insurance cover water leaks:
- the “Water Damage Clauses” in the actual policy
- the definition of what is water damage
- the definition of what is gradual water damage
The Water Damage Clauses
The water damage clauses you should always read carefully and ensure you understand. Generally, it will have a section with several clauses and subclauses in the policy which will cover water damage and what you can claim for if you make a water damage claim on your home.
As a rule, it will state precisely what water damage your insurance policy covers and what is excluded. The exclusions are what you need to be aware of as often they will include an all-encompassing negligence clause coupled with a failure to maintain your home in good repair. If you have these general all-encompassing clauses, ask your insurance company what they precisely mean as we’ve seen these clauses used to deny coverage where it was in a very grey area and open to interpretation in their favour.
The Definition of Water Damage
Water damage can occur in so many ways that it’s generally not well defined in your insurance policy. In our experience, insurance companies specify water damage in two ways:
- accidental or sudden water damage
- gradual water damage
We’ve found that instances such as burst pipes, burst taps, burst valves, overflowing sewerage, overflowing stormwater and storm damage are covered by most insurance policies. This is because it was a sudden event that you could not have prevented.
In contrast, the damage caused by slow plumbing leaks in pipes, showers, toilets, gutters and roofs not damaged by a storm is not covered as they are classified as gradual water damage.
The Definition of Gradual Water Damage
Essentially gradual water damage is the insurance policy get out of jail free card. It is water damage they assess has occurred gradually over time. Frequently the water damage was visible to the trained eye but invisible to you as it covers the rotting of timber under the paint or mould in the walls, floor or ceiling. Essentially the insurance company will conclude you were negligent in not maintaining your home.
Examples of gradual water damage we frequently see are:
- seepage from leaking taps into cupboards
- leaking shower trays
- leaking shower taps
- leaking toilet cisterns
- leaking drain pipes
- rusted out sections in gutters and roof
The water damage from many of these occurrences is often not covered by your insurance policy as it will be concluded you failed to keep your home in good repair through regular and reasonable maintenance.
Water Leak Prevention
The best way to avoid an unsuccessful water leak claim is regular maintenance by Whywait Plumbing. Now this will not prevent every possible water leak scenario happening, but it will demonstrate to the insurance company that you have been undertaking regular maintenance.
At Whywait Plumbing, we see instances every day of water damage that has occurred through the failure to maintain your home regularly. That is why we recommend all our clients to become a Service Partner and enjoy the VIP benefits of having a Service Partner Plan to maintain your most valuable asset, your home, proactively.
Back in September 2015 we here at Whywait Plumbing first alerted our clients in newsletters and blogs to the fact that flushable wipes were in fact not flushable. At the time we said flushable wipes are an environmental nightmare and we stand by that claim.
We have repeated over and over again that the only things that are flushable in your toilet are toilet paper, urine and faeces or if you like to adhere to the three P’s rule of pee, poo and paper.
But as we all know a multitude of products labelled as flushable wipes or wet wipes have been claimed by their manufacturers that they could be simply disposed of by flushing down the toilet.
Last Thursday the first of the ACCC prosecutions against manufacturers Pental and Kimberly-Clark Australia had a positive result in the Federal Court of Australia.
The manufacturer of White Kings flushable toilet and bathroom cleaning wipes Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd was fined $700,000 for its continual false and misleading claims that their products disintegrated “just like toilet paper” in the sewage system. The ACCC has separate ongoing proceedings against Kimberly-Clark Australia.
White Kings products in labelling, packaging and promotional materials included the following misleading statements:
- White King Toilet Wipes are made from a specially designed material, which will disintegrate in the sewage system when flushed, just like toilet paper
- Simply wipe over the hard surface of the toilet … and just flush away
The Federal Court ruled all these statements were, in fact, false with ACCC Commissioner, Sarah Court stating, “These White King wipes can’t be flushed down the toilet, and Australian wastewater authorities face significant problems if they are because they can cause blockages in household and municipal sewerage systems.”
This is a huge win for the sewers and house drains where blockages have been an ongoing issue creating $16000 plumbing repair bills for homeowners.
Here in Queensland Michelle Cull from Queensland Urban Utilities said it was a “real win” for sewers as “We remove around 160 tonnes of flushable wipes from our sewerage network every year. Laid end-to-end, that’s enough to stretch all the way from Brisbane to Bali. We spend around $1.5 million a year clearing blockages from our sewer pipes and flushable wipes are a big contributing factor.”
The campaign by Choice against flushable wipes has been an outstanding success. In 2015 Kleenex flushable wipes were an outstanding winner in their 2015 “Shonky Awards” which we highlighted in Flushable Wipes Win “Shonky Award” from CHOICE at the time.
On Thursday after the Federal Court, decision Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey reiterated that the false claims about flushable wipes were a “grubby marketing tactic that left households, local councils and water services organisations having to struggle with the cost of removing these wipes from the sewage system”.
The $700,000 fine is a positive message to manufacturers and the water industry and plumbers are now hopeful the manufacturers of wipes products now prominently label DO NOT FLUSH on all their products.
The $700,000 fine also sends a positive international message as the water industry worldwide has collectively committed to a position statement where all wipes and personal hygiene products must be clearly marked DO NOT FLUSH and that they can only be disposed of in the rubbish bin.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, we hope this $700,000 fine reinforces to everyone that any wipe product is never flushed down the toilet. I can only repeat if you wish to continue flushing wipes in all their forms down your toilet then I recommend you become aWhywait Plumbing Service Partner.
I’m well aware everyone loves a bargain especially with tradies giving cash discounts. We all understand household budgets are being stretched to the limit by ever increasing state government charges on electricity, car registration and water charges.
In the 41 years I’ve been in business nothing has changed in one area, and that is so many people expect substantial cash discounts if they pay tradies in cash.
The trade services sector of the economy is notorious for undercutting and giving cash discounts to clients who pay in cash.
Generally, tradies who offer substantial cash discounts are solo operators who are pocketing the cash and not paying for critical business expenses to protect clients such as public liability insurance. As a rule, they are also tax cheats which cost us all more in tax ultimately.
Cash discounts rip everyone off including yourself when you have no invoice to prove who did the work which means no guarantees if anything goes wrong.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been out to defective and non-compliant plumbing jobs where the client cannot get hold of the original plumber who did the work. Frequently this is because they have no record of who did the work as they paid in cash for the work to be done cheaply. This results in the client paying twice to have the same job undertaken and often costs much more to rectify and make legally compliant.
The ATO and the Tax Commissioner, Chris Jordon are 100% correct in saying cash discounts were ripping “billions of dollars” out of the economy that would otherwise be going to services such as schools and hospitals.
Like most other business owners I am 100% supportive of Chris Jordon when he recently issued a passionate plea to Australians to stop paying tradies in cash as the ATO confronts a host of black-economy rorts that include the fraudulent misuse of ABN’s.
“Stop paying cash for a discount,” he has told taxpayers.“Because you are effectively cheating the system or helping someone else to. This is not a victimless crime. If you pay cash for a discount, in many cases you are effectively ripping off yourself as an Australian taxpayer, because this type of behaviour is what sees billions flow out of the tax system and into the cash economy.”
The Australian Government’s Black Economy Taskforce has estimated that the cash economy is now in excess of $25 billion a year. Simply this is $25 billion of cash transactions where no tax is paid in GST or PAYG or superannuation or company tax.
I’m well aware some people like to pay in cash but don’t rip yourself off by not getting an invoice from the tradie who has done your work if you pay him in cash. As a precaution, you should always ensure that you are getting a legitimate ‘Tax Invoice’ that has all the tradies details on it including a legitimate ABN and their QBCC contractors licence number.
It’s very simple to check an ABN to ensure it’s not a fictitious ABN. All you need to do is go the ABN Lookup and type in the ABN. It is quick and easy to do but gives you the assurance that you are dealing with a legitimate business that is paying their fair share of tax.
Every tradie must have a QBCC contractors licence and once again its very easy to check at the QBCC Online Licence Search. Remember if they don’t have a licence then you do not have to pay them.
Scarily the Black Economy Taskforce found 40 percent of ABN’s quoted where cash is paid to tradies, were the Bunnings ABN. There is no suggestion Bunnings has done anything wrong.
The old cliche that you get what you pay for will always be true. There is no need to ever pay cash despite what some tradies will try and force you to do. You should never let a tradie take you to an ATM where they sit with you watching you take out cash.
In today’s world of instant payments and it pays to protect yourself and create a digital trail.
At Whywait Plumbing we will happily take payment in cash or cheque or credit card. But we will not give you a discount for paying in cash ever as every job is invoiced correctly and paid into our bank account.
Remember at Whywait guaranteed upfront pricing ensures you always know the cost of your job before we start the job.
Sadly employing an apprentice plumber has become an expensive luxury for many small plumbing companies throughout Australia. This is due to the complexities of the Fair Work Act, to their high wages and the length of time away from work on holidays and at TAFE training.
This has been further exasperated by the explosion in sub-contracting with 65% of all plumbing businesses being a one-man operation who employ no staff at all.
As an industry, if we don’t train for the future then we have no future. This is why we at Whywait Plumbing have always made it a policy to employ and train at least three apprentices at any given time. Even throughout the GFC in 2008-10, we maintained employment and training for four apprentices.
If you go to university you don’t get paid and incur a hex debt that you eventually pay back for your study. However, if you become an apprentice plumber your employer pays you for the entire 4 years of your training, every week, with annual increases.
Currently, the archaic document that purports to be a ‘Modern Award’, the Plumbers and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 requires a first-year apprentice plumber who has completed year 12 to be paid $13.18 per hour. If the apprentice plumber is aged over 20 he starts on $19.07 an hour. Compare this with how much you will get paid to attend university in the first and subsequent years.
Apprenticeship numbers have been declining for the last 20 years. Much of the reason for this is due to decisions 20 years ago to focus everyone at high school on obtaining a university education. This has lead to many young people graduating with degrees and then being unable to gain employment in their chosen field of study.
The importance of well-trained plumbers to society as a whole cannot be underestimated. Plumbing as a trade will continue to exist and ensures young people taking up apprenticeships will always have a good job and a good future.
Interestingly apprenticeship completions at 64% is almost on par with university graduations of 67%. In plumbing 80% of those who never finish their apprenticeship drop out in the first 2 years.
This decline in numbers of plumbers as a whole available to be employed has been brought home to us in recent months. We have been advertising for two licensed plumbers in that time and these are fulltime jobs, not casual or sub-contract. it’s been alarming at how few plumbers applied for the job. Interviewing potential employees has been an intriguing and challenging exercise.
Dillon Lowes installing new sewer pipes at Niecon Plaza
We have employed two new employees in the last month as an apprentice plumber and welcome to Whywait Plumbing, Scott Moir and Dillon Lowes.
Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t employ sub-contractors so everyone who works at Whywait Plumbing is a full-time employee. That means everyone working here is paid for 6 weeks of annual and personal leave plus 2 weeks of statutory holidays. Sub-contractors don’t receive those benefits plus they have to pay their own superannuation and work cover.
The combination of a reduction in plumbing businesses employing an apprentice plumber and the numbers of plumbers retiring means there is a shortfall of 13% between the number of plumbers available and the demand for plumbers.
All of these issues are increasing the cost of employing plumbers. This, in turn, increases the cost for plumbing businesses to undertake work across the board in both construction and maintenance. Ultimately it’s always a balancing act between supply and demand.
Flushable wipes are an environmental nightmare which is what I termed them in September 2015 when we here at Whywait Plumbing were seeing a horrendous increase in blocked drains.
At the same time, consumer advocacy group CHOICE published the results of their dirty testing of “flushable” wipes and cleaning cloths in their testing labs. CHOICE came to the same conclusions that plumbers had long learnt and that was that “flushable” wipes were in most cases NOT FLUSHABLE.
Last year we promoted to Whywait Plumbing clients to join the CHOICE campaign to get rid of “flushable” claims on products that aren’t safe to flush.
The worst offender in everyone’s eyes was the Kleenex brand. In fact, the website for Kleenex Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths For Kids claimed that the cloths break up in the sewerage system like toilet paper. As a result of this claim, CHOICE put it to the test and found that while toilet paper dissolves in a few minutes but the Kleenex wipes held together for over 21 hours.
Kleenex has responded to the CHOICE campaign by releasing an allegedly new and improved “flushable” wipes product. As a result, CHOICE has tested this new product and found nothing has changed. Kleenex new flushable wipes will still block your drains because they do not disintegrate like toilet paper.
CHOICE is now advocating that you don’t let your friends and family get caught by Kleenex and here’s what you can do:
1. Share on Facebook
2. Share on Twitter
When the CHOICE lab tests were widely published in all media last year, and the false Kleenex claims were exposed it sent a strong message to Kleenex. In fact, the message was so strong they apparently felt they needed to reinvent their “flushable” wipes.
But as CHOICE testing has found the “NEW” wipes are nowhere good enough to be considered safe to flush down your toilet. They are NOT FLUSHABLE, and they certainly do not disintegrate like toilet paper. As CHOICE states companies such as Kleenex need to deliver on their promises and should be prohibited from selling products that mislead consumers.
These Not-so-flushable Kleenex wipes put your homes sewer drains at risk of blockage still. As a community, we can and need to get these falsely marketed products off the supermarket shelves. That is why I urge you to tell your friends and family about the dangers of these dodgy Kleenex products to help keep your house drains, and the City of Gold Coast sewer drains flowing.