When cheap bathroom renovations go bad – true story

Bathroom with all new plumbing: bath, vanity and mirror

Pipe Perfection Plumber’s  Darren Clancy is a professional plumber, so what was he doing investigating a customer’s ceiling? Pippy (the J van) witnesses a botched renovation in Mosman turn into a working bathroom…

Most of our visits are in the inner west and eastern suburbs of Sydney so when Darren drove me up to the north shore I knew we’d been called in for a special job. The bathroom looked brand new. It looked perfect. There was a new bath, vanity and shower and the floor had been newly tiled, so what was the problem? The smell. This customer had a stinky bathroom and didn’t know why. The problem was hidden in the pipes.

The problem

A couple of months before we arrived on the scene, Ms Mosman paid for a cheap bathroom renovation. Then the bathroom started to smell. At first she went back to the renovators but they told her they’d need to rip the floor up again, almost like a second renovation. She then had the sense to call the Master Plumbers Association who recommended us for the job.

The smelly drain is investigated by our plumber with the drain camera

Using a drain camera to find why the drains smell

Darren and Kevin went in the bathroom and ran a water and dye test in the bath. They should have been able to see fluorescent water sitting in the U bend connected to the plughole drain pipe. There was nothing. This means there was no water seal. Normally you have a water seal to stop smells coming up. That was one reason things had gotten stinky lately. But that wasn’t the whole problem, so instead of smashing all of her new tiled floor, Darren decided to try the less destructive option by going downstairs and cutting a hole in her ceiling from below the bathroom. Using drain cameras, they took a look at the pipes, which is when they discovered the true source of the stink. Turns out the previous plumbers—and we’re pretty sure they weren’t real plumbers—had used flexible PVC drainage pipes, the kind that you can get from any hardware store, to connect her fittings to the main drain instead of doing it by Australian regulations. The water wasn’t flowing correctly and was getting stuck in the pipes, causing build-up—and the smell.

The solution

Our customer was lucky her bathroom wasn’t on the ground floor! We were able to replace the pipes by getting access through the downstairs ceiling instead of making her undergo a second renovation. It was a $4,500 bill to add to a $15,000 bathroom renovation, so it just goes to show that a ‘cheap’ renovation can cost you a bit more in the longer term if it isn’t done right.

Lesson learned

In the end Ms Mosman did the right thing by calling the Master Plumbers Association to find a reputable plumber. (You can also contact the Master Builders Association for other trades.) Always check that you plumber is licensed and qualified for the job they are doing, and that a licensed plumber supervises apprentices. The Department of Fair Trading is also a good place to check up on your tradie. A small amount of research can prevent a nightmare renovation. Download a Smart Consumer’s Guide to getting a professional, not a cowboy. These days on social media it’s only one click away to see what the company’s like. Speaking of social media, you can find out where I am by following me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram!

Have you ever been ripped off or paid less for something only to have a really poor experience?

About the author:

Pippy is a vintage 1954 Morris J van whose role is Head of Happiness at Pipe Perfection Plumbers (PPP). She putts around promoting PPP’s expertise in vintage plumbing bringing a smile to the faces of the residents of the inner west and eastern suburbs of Sydney.