Whether you have new employees just starting out, or are just beginning a new plumbing contracting business, one of the biggest mistakes I see being made is through lack of knowledge of the plumbing code. I have walked into new contractors’ shops only to find that the plumbing code they have on their shelf is 15 years old. Come on, 15 years old!
I have heard just about every comment ever made regarding the plumbing code: “It is just that stupid book that the inspector tries to screw us with;” “The code is only there to make my life miserable;” “A bunch of morons wrote that book; no wonder it is so screwed up.”
I could go on, but you get the idea. The plumbing code is often looked upon in a negative light. However, in reality, the plumbing code is your friend. The plumbing code is going to increase your profits. But to have it be a friend or increase your profits, you need to know what is inside.
So many times we see the plumbing code used as a weapon by the inspectors. “You have to change it because the code says so.” The plumbing code often becomes their crutch that they blame everything on during an inspection.
It always appears as if the code is an evil document intended to do you harm. So, how can it be your friend? If you have a positive attitude about the plumbing code, you will be able to defend it and use it to your benefit. However, you first need to master the plumbing code.
Code Master: Try to imagine life without the plumbing code. If you cannot imagine such a situation, look at pictures of third world countries and their living conditions. Then look at their plumbing and imagine drinking their water. Are you seeing where I am go-ing?
The plumbing code brings wonderful order to our lives. It also helps to extend our life ex-pectancy. We have the highest sanitation levels and highest quality of drinking water of any country in the world. The reason we do is because we are all vigilant about the regulations for our profession. Not only do we want a plumbing code, we need a plumbing code.
As you know, the plumbing code provides protection of public health, safety and welfare. That is what we are all about in the plumbing profession. So, supporting the proper en-forcement of the plumbing code is paramount to providing your customers with the most sanitary plumbing system.
A plumbing code does not read like a novel. Some sections may appear confusing. Others are straightforward and just common sense. There is no denying that every plumbing code has some weird or ridiculous requirements. However, there are also some sections that appear ridiculous that are actually very important.
To understand the plumbing code requirements, it is important to understand the intent of the requirement. What is the code after? Why is this requirement necessary? These ques-tions often can be answered in the commentaries that are available for every plumbing code. Code commentaries are another useful book to have and reference.
There are also seminars offered all the time on the plumbing code. Attend these seminars and brush up on your code knowledge. When a new code is issued, be sure especially to attend any seminars on the new code requirements.
Friend For Life: So how is this mysterious document your friend? If you know all of the code requirements, it can save you time when it comes to inspections. One thing that can slow a project is failing an inspection. That means that something has to be changed, which requires time, and time is money.
Imagine passing every inspection the first time. It can be done.
The other benefit to knowing the code is the opportunity to discuss code matters with the inspector. If an inspector asks for a change, or makes a statement that the code requires such and such, with a strong knowledge of the code, you can say, “No, that is not required. The code allows such and such. Let’s take the code out and review the requirements.” If a change is unnecessary, you again saved money.
Another benefit to knowing the code is the ability to use it as a sales tool. When you are in a customer’s building or home, you may notice part of a plumbing installation that does not comply with the code. You can bring this to the attention of your customer and recommend a change of the system to bring it into full code compliance.
If you are going to use it as a sales tool, be sure to explain the intent of the code. It is a good idea to also explain what the dangers or hazards are with the current system. Explain to customers how their lives will be better if they change the system as you recommend. Let them know how much safer the new installation will be with the modifications.
The other thing that the plumbing code will help you with is staying out of court. Many legal cases center on an area where the plumbing installation was not up to code. If everything is up to code, it makes it more difficult to be sued. Of course, realize that anybody can sue you for anything. But an easy way out of a frivolous lawsuit is to prove that the installation was in accordance with the plumbing code.
So whether you are new to the tools or new to the business side of contracting, remember that the plumbing code is one of your most important tools. Learn it and use it. Pretty soon, you will become great friends with the plumbing inspector.
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