Homeowners: Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Contractor

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With the recent changes in legislation mandated by EPA and the California Regional Water Quality Board, Oakland's Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating Inc. reminds homeowners that ‘cheaper’ is not always better.

As most property owners know, the days leading up to a sale can be overwhelming. With a checklist full of tests and certifications that must be completed before transitioning ownership, the demand for qualified workers is continuously increasing. Specifically, the EPA and the RWQCB are now requiring EBMUD, six East Bay cities and one sewer district to fix old, cracked sewer pipes to ensure they don't allow the infiltration of rainwater. Infiltration can overwhelm wastewater treatment facilities, resulting in releases of partially treated sewage into the Bay and posing a threat to public health.

Affected property owners will be required to obtain a certificate from EBMUD indicating that their private sewer laterals (PSLs) are without defects and have proper connections. Oakland’s Harry Clark Plumbing raised some concerns about the demand for qualified contractors. “Homeowners and their agents are responsible for the workman on their property,” Mark McQuillan of Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating explained, “choosing the low-cost service provider can create a whole slew of liabilities and end up costing you more.” McQuillan offers a few tips for property owners preparing to sell:

1)    Contractors are required to have workers’ compensation insurance.

2)    Homeowners should request an insurance certificate for their records.

3)    Contractors should also be screened for their work practices and questioned on how they will complete the work.

Home sellers naturally want to get the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) certificate at the lowest possible price. But hiring the cheapest contractor may have unintended consequences as many contractors are cutting corners to provide the lowest bid possible.

Unsafe working conditions are worsening as many plumbing companies are taking on more clients than they can handle. “While driving down Harrison Street, I noticed a group of workers surrounding a 10-foot deep hole with no shoring or ladders. They had no traffic plan, cones flagmen or barriers. It was one of the greatest offenders of unsafe conditions that I have seen to date,” said Don Marshall, Co-Owner of Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating.

Plumbing services contractors are required to have at least one person on-site who is trained and certified in trench safety. Don and Brad Marshall of Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating require all of their workers to be trained and certified.

"We want to be competitive, but we won't put our workers at risk just to save or make a few bucks," Marshall added. “We’re relying on our local property owners to make the right choice.”

For more information about any of Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating's services, call 510-444-1776, view the plumbing services company on the Web at http://www.hcplumbing.com or visit 3026 Broadway in Oakland.

About Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating Inc.

Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating Inc., a full-service plumbing, heating, air conditioning, trenchless sewer and water heater replacement contractor that specializes in residential and light commercial service and repair. Harry Clark has been in the plumbing service business since 1946. The types of systems it uses includes York Heating and Air Conditioning units, Takagi, Eternal and State water heaters, Toto and Kohler toilets, and trenchless sewer replacement. Its affiliations are PHCC, Consumer Checkbook, NATE, York Comfort experts, Energy Star and Preferred Alumni Partners.

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Mark McQuillan
Harry Clark Plumbing and Heating Inc.
(510) 444-1776
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