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Plumbing: not as wet and dry as you think.

When it comes to installing a new commercial water line or remodeling the lavatories in a 24-story office complex, choosing the wrong plumber can really put a building in "hot water."

Commercial plumbing/remodeling requires more job-specific knowledge than residential projects, simply because of the nature of the business. For example, if a residential building owner decides to completely re-do bathrooms in several of his/her units, the job will most likely require repiping, retiling, electrical rewiring, and installation of a new toilet and sink fixtures. To the plumber, this is nothing new.

A large office complex, however, may also need a complete overhauling of gas lines and sewer lines. Various types of businesses may require customsized equipment. Plumbers may also have to work night shifts to avoid disrupting daily business practices. If building owners and managers do not hire a plumber with specific experience in dealing with a particular size and type of project, there may be serious repercussions later on.

Yet, while shopping for a commercial plumber, building management may see a variety of plumbers and a wide range of bids. With all the choices, who do you hire?

Before signing a contract with a commercial plumber, building owners and managers need to ask themselves two key questions: "Does this plumber have a city license, such as a New York City Plumber's License?" and, "Does he have the experience to sufficiently complete the project?"

It is important to remember that not every plumber in New York or across the country is licensed. Without having this important certificate, a plumber may not have a complete understanding of complex city and state building codes. And similarly, not every licensed plumber has sufficient experience to handle all types of commercial projects, which can vary from installing faucets in a suburban office complex to repairing a gas leak in a cramped city highrise.

Without experience in these fields, even the best-known residential plumbers can make mistakes. If a plumber installs an inadequate sewer line in a large commercial project, it can cost tens of thousands to redo - more than the original job would have been if you had hired a licensed professional with the proper experience to begin with.

Choosing a plumber who has the proper licensing and experience also saves time. Like electrical work, plumbing projects require filing with city organizations, like the New York city Buildings Department.

A plumber is required to file for a permit before beginning a commercial or residential plumbing job. The process includes submitting work plans, followed by two inspections by a Building's Department representative. The first, a Roughing Inspection, is when an inspector examines all plumbing work before the walls are closed off. The second, a Finished Inspection, takes place after the job is completed. The inspector makes sure all work has been done according to legal specifications. He or she then checks to see that all fixtures (lavatory, water closet, shower, etc.) are set correctly and that water-supply and waste lines are correctly connected according to the plumbing code.

Once the job has been approved and signed-off by both the licensed contractor and the Building Department, the building owner will receive all the necessary documents. This paperwork is essential if a residential apartment building owner wants to obtain MCI rent increases for the work that s been performed, sell the building, or apply for a Certificate of Occupancy. In commercial buildings, the paperwork is necessary to avoid lawsuits, as well as to minimize the amount of time that a plumber may inconvenience the day-to-day running of a business.,

Without hiring a plumber who follows these procedures, the job can be seriously delayed, needlessly affecting numerous tenants' businesses. And since these documents cannot be provided by anyone but a licensed professional, hiring an unlicensed plumber can cause you trouble. If an owner has had work performed by an unlicensed plumber, he or she runs the risk of eventually having to re-open walls for inspection and perhaps have plumbing redone to suit legal requirements - an extremely costly and time-consuming venture.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review and Forecast, Section II
Author:Wexler, Robert
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 24, 1992
Previous Article:Experienced prosper in today's tough market.
Next Article:NJ shopping center expands.

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