A story that proves why you need to be careful when working with vendors.


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I manage a couple of high rises, and they require a certain amount of insurance, particularly for plumbing because if it’s not done right, it can flood multiple units. There are many plumbers out there who like to gouge people with their prices. 


The other day, I had a plumber that I worked with a couple of years ago come out to a high rise to replace a garbage disposal. He quoted me $450, which is a little high for a garbage disposal, but you sometimes have to take what you can get for a high rise. However, last night he sent over the invoice that now says it’ll be $635, which is beyond what I’m allowed to spend without owner approval. 


When I questioned him about it, he said that there’s a diagnostic fee of $185, but when I broke down the math with him, the disposal costs $100, the diagnostic fee is $185, which means he’s charging me $450 for his labor. His labor took less than half an hour, which means he’s making two times “per hour” more than an anesthesiologist, who makes $198 per hour. I told him I’d be paying him $450 since that’s what he originally quoted me, and we would no longer be doing business together. I have to find another plumber who is willing to work on high rises. 


The lesson to take away from my story is that it’s crucial to ask plumbers what the full cost will be (even though I did ask that), to ensure they don’t add extra fees. If I hadn’t asked that originally, I may not have known how much I was being gouged by this plumber. It’s also critical to have a professional property manager working for you who understands the cost of materials, knows the time it takes to repair things, and can navigate vendors and push back if needed so you’re not taken advantage of in any situation. 


Feel free to contact me via phone or email if you have any questions or concerns about this topic. I would love to speak with you.