Yard Leakin’ No More!

This is the fifth (and hopefully last!) post in a series about our front-yard water line emergency that occupied much of the Thanksgiving holiday and the week that followed.

Our new water line is complete!  It passed inspection this morning and cleanup was completed this afternoon.

If you were wondering what it’s like to have a new water line installed, well, here you go!  Some photos of the installation process:

Here you can see the old copper line (perpendicular to the viewer) and the new Pex piping coming in from under the driveway.

Total damage: $3300 and just a little bit of sanity. Top Gun Plumbing did fantastic work and cleaned up the job site nicely, especially considering that it has rained virtually non-stop and mushed up the ground real good.

Yard Leakin’, Part 4: Yard Dig Day

This is the fourth post in a series about our front-yard water line emergency that occupied much of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Our plumber returned today with digging and trenching tools.  The yard dig is on!

Here’s what digging for a new water line looks like:


I’m quite satisfied with my choice of plumber –  Top Gun Plumbing located in Bothell, WA is great. I hope people in the Puget Sound area trying to find a good plumber find this post and give them a call.

Here’s why I chose Top Gun:

  • Quick response times over the phone – even if I had to wait for a call back, I never waited more than a few minute.  Also, I was able to get an in person estimate at 9am the next day after calling the previous afternoon
  • The over-phone-estimate was accurate
  • They are minimizing the mess that is inevitable when digging trenches in the yard by using tarps and boards to protect unaffected parts of the lawn
  • They came in $4200 under my highest bidder for the job (YOW!)
  • They got a permit for the work and the job will be inspected when complete – of the three plumbers I contacted, they were the only team to mention permits
  • They had the utilities marked – again, the only plumber to mention utility markings
  • The usual goodies: licenses, bonds, insurances, all the stuff to show they’re pros and not just some random guys with a painted truck
  • Top Gun is one of my favorite movie soundtracks OF ALL TIME (yeah, I grew up in the 80s… :)  )

When choosing a contractor for a big job, always consider the whole package:

  • Are they timely with responses?
  • Are they on time to the job site?
  • Do numbers they quote seem reasonable?
  • Can you actually read what they write on your estimate?  You don’t want ambiguities here.
  • Do they explain stuff?  Ask 1st grader questions – if you’re shelling out thousands of dollars, you get to ask 1st grader questions.
  • If your project requires digging, do they seem eager to “play by the rules” with permits and utility marks?  Waiting on a permit and utility marks did not add wait time to the job, and Top Gun coordinated everything. All I had to do was pay – perfect.

If you’re not sure what’s a reasonable cost, get more estimates and search for your job on Google.  Doing this saved me $4200, do not skip this step!

It takes time to get multiple estimates and explain your problem repeatedly, and I am just as guilty of skipping the “get multiple estimates” step, but on these bigger jobs the grind pays off:  you will get a wide range of professionalism and costs, even among pros with high marks on Yelp and Angie’s List.

Yard Leakin’, Part 3: Our Temporary Water Line

This is the third post in a series about our front-yard water line emergency that occupied much of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Our temporary water line is here today!  This line lets us completely bypass the broken line and gives us clean running water indoors.  It’s basically a blue hose running from our water meter (near the curb) into our hose spigot (at the front of the house).  I didn’t know you could get water into your house this way, but apparently this is a reliable technique that can even be used to get water from a neighbor’s house.

Our new, permanent water line goes in after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yard Leakin’, Part 2: Always get three estimates

This is the second post in a series about our front-yard water line emergency that occupied much of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Alternatively titled, “How I saved $4200 with almost no effort”.

Plumbing Company A: $7500

Plumbing Company B: $5000

Plumbing Company C: $3300

We’re about 24 hours into our spontaneous water line project, now armed with three estimates.  Really, that just speaks for itself.  I’m stunned. Needless to say, we hired Plumber C to replace our broken water line.

“Always get three estimates” is good advice… for people with loads of free time, generous time off policies at work, and people who like playing phone tag.  We usually get one or two estimates and go with it, since we both work and have historically been very strapped for free time and the ability to miss hours of work.

But, now that I’m unemployed my free time has quadrupled while my income has evaporated.  My #1 job while unemployed is saving us money, and one of the best ways to save money is to find the lowest bidder for the same quality of work promised by the other guys.

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