Top 7 Reasons to Use a Specialty Pipe Replacement Contractor (NOT Your Service Provider) to Repipe Your Community
Paramedics excel in medical emergencies. That doesn’t mean they have the skills and experience to perform heart surgery, too. Apply this same logic when you undertake a mechanical or plumbing capital improvement in your apartment or condo buildings.
Let’s dive into plumbing and pipes as an example. For leaks, maintenance, and fixture installs, your service provider is a perfect fit. They know your community well and you’ve likely established a working relationship grounded in trust.
When it’s time for a full community repipe, however, consider that your service provider has limitations. Your familiarity with them is valuable but they are highly unlikely to have the skills, supplier relationships, staff, or time they need for a project of this magnitude. Owners and operators who opt for a “go with who you know” approach to pipe replacement often end up with more problems than they start with.
That’s why it’s better to work with a pipe replacement specialist. Only a repipe contractor can offer end-to-end service that includes the technical and management expertise required for a property-wide repipe project. They also directly employ most tradespeople such as plumbers, drywallers, and painters.
And much like a general contractor on a new construction job, dedicated repipe experts thrive at scheduling, budgeting, and sourcing and managing all resources needed to complete your project. Your pipe replacement contractor is your single point of accountability, all under one contract.
Here’s a look at the top seven advantages of choosing a specialty pipe replacement contractor for your community repipe:
Replacing pipe is just one step of many in a property-wide repipe project. It’s a renovation project that often includes removing and resetting kitchens and bathrooms. You’ll need drywallers, painters, tile-setters, carpenters, and other specialists. Your community may even require specialists in removing and replacing high-end finishes like imported marble countertops.
A pipe replacement specialist will provide you with management and tradespeople who are experienced in planning and executing the work. They’ll also provide an onsite project manager devoted to resolving issues on the spot with the property manager and the residents. A first-rate repipe contractor will implement a resident-centric communications program so that everyone knows well in advance what’s happening in the community and in individual units.
In short, a repipe contractor gives you a single point of accountability. If you go with your service provider, there’s a good chance they’ll only replace the plumbing, which means they can’t complete the full scope of work and may be unpracticed in managing large-scale renovation projects. So, you may have to hire other tradespeople and manage the project yourself, or else hire and manage a general contractor or construction manager to schedule and oversee the project.
Specialty repipe contractors are dedicated to pipe replacement projects and bring efficiencies to working on big projects. In addition to employing the variety of tradespeople required for a project, they understand how to structure a project schedule to expedite progress, whether they’re proceeding all at once or carefully choreographing their work in phases.
For example, sequencing all the required trades so that there is minimal downtime between stages of work is easy for a repipe contractor who controls all the resources. It’s much more difficult for a service provider or other project manager to be as efficient when they’re relying on subcontractors.
A pipe replacement contractor is also committed to working on your repipe project and nothing else. Your service plumber, on the other hand, remains on call for other jobs. Expect reoccurring disruptions as they’re asked to address service emergencies and other maintenance duties.
To put this speed component into context, we’ve seen that a good repipe contractor could replace up to five hydronic heating and cooling system risers in the same amount of time that a good service provider would need to replace just one.
Also worth noting: Specialists typically work with fixed-price contracts, not hourly, which incentivizes them to do good work fast.
Speaking of contracts, owners and operators may think they have more negotiating power with their current service provider. While that may be true in some instances, any savings gained by going this route usually disappear as a consequence of cost overruns, project delays, and even rapid inflation affecting the price of materials.
Consider, for example, that a repipe contractor may secure better pricing for materials because they often work with their suppliers to purchase at greater volumes than your service provider. In today’s environment, a repipe contractor’s purchasing power means they may be able to secure materials before inflation impacts price and then store and access materials faster than a service provider who needs to wait for the supply chain to catch up with demand.
Specialists factor all of these variables into their budgets to prevent surprises.
Replacing large runs of pipe in a high-rise community can fall far outside the skills of even the most experienced plumbers and maintenance providers. The same might be true if you ask a service provider who’s expert at replacing supply pipes behind walls to replace DWV (drain, waste, and vent) pipes that run underground.
It’s not enough to understand the basic concepts of plumbing. Repiping is an evolving, highly complex field with its own best practices and pitfalls to avoid. Specialists make it their business to stay on top of what’s new and what’s next in everything from technical and project management approaches to materials.
As noted above, repipe contractors also provide the scheduling and project management expertise that service providers often lack when coordinating activities across multiple crews of tradespeople.
Finally, if you don’t want to incur the cost and complexities of residents moving out during your project, make sure you select a contractor who has worked successfully in occupied buildings.
Having the right skillset is vital, but this is also a numbers game. Large capital improvement projects require a large team. Does your current service provider have a crew big enough to manage schedules and budgets, oversee subcontractors, and keep things moving smoothly forward?
After many months of work and millions of dollars in expenses, your service provider finally completes a community-wide repipe—only to fail inspection. How do you avoid this nightmare scenario? Go with repipe contractors who live and breathe compliance with local building codes.
Bonding and Insurance
Any capital improvement project comes with a degree of risk. A community repipe is no exception. For the sake of your residents, your property, your bottom line, and your reputation, you want to minimize this risk as much as possible. That means working with professionals who are bonded and insured to cover the project size and cost. If something goes wrong with the project, smaller service providers or providers whose bonds and insurance cover work for only a specific piece of the project may not meet these criteria.
Find Your Specialist at SageWater
What do these seven advantages have in common? Peace of mind. By choosing a pipe replacement specialist over a service provider, you can be confident your repipe project is in the right hands.
At SageWater, we’ve honed our expertise in large-scale repiping renovations for more than 30 years. We combine proven processes with technical and managerial expertise to keep projects on schedule and on budget.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can lead a successful pipe replacement project for your apartment or condo community.