1. The Handyman’s scope of work was modified by statute. Replacement of a fixture was removed, and only repair is allowed. The reason? Public safety and & health.
  2. We’ve developed www.utahplumbing.org, a user-friendly platform that empowers the public to find locally owned and operated plumbing professionals. These professionals are required to sign a code of conduct, ensuring the highest standards of service.
  3. Provide extra benefits to their members and soon offer their employees an affordable option for health insurance.
  4. Ongoing quality Continuing Education Classes for those licensed plumbing professionals.
  5. The Academy, launched in 2023, is a beacon of opportunity. It offers an alternative path to obtaining quality education and meeting the requirements for a journeyman license. The Academy is especially beneficial for those in rural areas, inspiring them to reach their goal of becoming a journeyman.
  6. The UPHCA is the only non-union (merit shop) association specifically for the plumbing and mechanical industry in the State of Utah.
  7. The UPHCA represents quality, qualified, locally owned, and operated plumbing and mechanical companies that take the health and safety of the public seriously. They are licensed professionals who take pride in their work and do not exploit their customers!
  8. Developed informational videos to promote Quality, Safety and Health for the public by directing them to ‘Qualified’ professionals.

Plumbing is an essential aspect of modern civilization, providing the infrastructure necessary for clean water delivery, sanitation, and public health. However, the complexities of plumbing systems require expertise and competence to install, maintain, and repair safely and effectively. This is where plumbing licensing laws come into play, serving as a crucial mechanism to regulate the industry and protect the interests of both consumers and professionals. In this document, we delve into the significance of plumbing licensing laws within a state and their impact on public health, safety, and overall well-being.

The Professionals in the plumbing trade are proud of their work.  However those who are unlicensed, or who classify themselves as “Handyman” who don’t have the training and skills to perform plumbing work are not only unethical but they can also cause significant costs to the homeowner and unsafe living conditions.  Here are a few examples of poor workmanship by those who are not licensed:

I don’t know if you can see in this photo of blue and red ‘Pex’ piping going along the top of the hallway of a home.  The contractor was licensed but those individuals doing the work were clueless and not qualified on doing a “Re-Pipe” of a home.  The homeowner paid thousands of dollars for this work.  Absolutely terrible! The company that performed this work is owned by an out of state investment company.

Here is a photo of an unlicensed individual who installed a water heater outside of the home in the West Valley area.  This photo was taken in January of 2024. The home owner called a UPHCA Qualified Contractor to come out and find out why they didn’t have hot water!

Members of the UPHCA are locally owned and operated licensed contractors who use licensed individuals who perform the work to industry codes and standards.  UPHCA Contractors sign prior to joining a Code of Ethics and they receive the “Qualified” stamp of approval by their peers.  Make sure you go to www.utahplumbing.org to find these companies.

Tonight, March 1st the 2024 Legislative Session wraps up.  It has been full of issues and some challenges affecting the industry.  Here is a short report:

  • HB 483 – was modifying the the scope of work commonly known as the “Handyman Exception”. The first draft that was introduced was terrible, increasing the value of a project from $6,000 to $35,000 and changing a couple of other items. Throughout the session we worked with the Representative Albrecht to come to the point where the Handyman scope was tightened significantly.  The amount was reduced to $7,000 and the word “replacement” was removed from the statute and only allows “repair” of plumbing fixtures. This is a significant change and limits the “Handyman” scope of work and provides a clear line for enforcement!
  • HB 534 – This bill consolidated or deleted many boards, commissions and committees from State Government. The original bill consolidated the State plumbing and electrical boards into one and only provided the chair of this new board to have a seat on the Construction Services Commission.  We didn’t like the consolidation aspect but especially didn’t like only having one licensed trade represented on the Commission.  Through the skillful work of our lobbyist the bill was amended to allow both the electrical and plumbing trades to have representation on the commission.  There was a lot of opposition from many groups and if I remember correctly only this one change was allowed by the sponsor.  With the strong support of the legislature and the governor to make sure the bill passed no matter what this was a big win to get this modified.
  • SB 188 was modified to included the ability for the UPHCA to be an approved CE provider of the S-350 HVAC license requirement. DOPL had allowed us for the past 5 years, however the individual who provided this approval had retired and we felt that we needed to be put into statute rather than relying on interpretation.

The bills discussed above passed both houses and are on Governor Cox’s desk for signing and are effective May 31st.  Much of the credit for keeping track and engaged in this process and working with the Legislators go to Capstone Strategies, our Lobbyists.  If it wasn’t for their energy and professionalism our industry and trade would be significantly impacted.

It’s clear how beneficial it is to be a part of the UPHCA family. This association is dedicated to addressing the issues and concerns that directly affect our trade and industry. Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of such a supportive association? Let’s spread the word about the fantastic work UPHCA is doing. Encourage our industry peers to express their gratitude to you for the priceless support you give to the UPHCA that enriches their careers, businesses, and trade.

And when they do, don’t forget to respond with a heartwarming, ‘You’re Welcome!’

On a recent KSL – Get Gephardt news story it shows how unlicensed individuals are doing work for homeowners and either not completing the work or not doing it at all.  This is happening in St. George area with Bald Dude Plumbing.  He has been fined 3 times for over $6,000 and still is out and about advertising and doing work as a plumber and handyman.  Buyer beware!

 

It’s important to support locally owned and operated businesses, especially when it comes to services like Plumbing & HVAC Services.  Local businesses often have a vested interest in maintaining a good reputation within their community and providing quality work to their customers. By choosing a locally owned service company, you’re likely to receive more personalized and attentive service.  The Utah Plumbing & Heating Contractors Association (UPHCA) requires a code of ethics be signed to join the association.  Go to www.utahplumbing.org to find a locally owned and operated Plumbing & HVAC company in your area.

This website is a great resource for finding trustworthy and ethical local plumbers in Utah. It’s good to know that the companies listed there are part of an association that has them adhere to a code of ethics, which can give you peace of mind when seeking their services.

In the past couple of years out of state investment companies have bought out many of the large service companies in Utah, keeping their original name.  They prioritize their bottom line over customer satisfaction, and they use enticing deals to upsell customers on unnecessary services to cover their advertising costs. This is why doing research and selecting a locally owned and operated Plumbing or HVAC company can help ensure that you receive honest and fair pricing for the services you need.

Remember, when looking for a Plumber or HVAC companies always go to www.utahplumbing.org to ensure you get a fair and honest deals and find reliable and ethical plumbing professionals who genuinely care about their trade and their community.

What has the UPHCA Been Doing?

What Has Been Happening?

I understand there are times when you might ask “What do I get from my membership to the UPHCA?  The following are a few answers and if you don’t agree with anyone of the items listed below please contact me!

*  The ‘Handyman’ Exception or “Minor Plumbing Work that is Incidental” as it is properly named had a few changes made that went into effect June 2023.  One of the significant change took out a list of services or procedures that could be done by an unlicensed/handyman and took out the $350 limit monetary limit.  The wording of the previous rule had become an issue for DOPL to enforce, it created loopholes for individuals to abuse.  This simple statement replaced the previous rule: 

2(a) “Minor plumbing work that is incidental” means repair or replacement of residential type Plumbing appurtenances, fixtures, or appliances, provided that no modification is made to: existing culinary water, soil, waste, or vent piping; or a gas appliance or combustion system.

In discussion with the State Plumbing Licensing Board on July 5, 2023 (audio of the meeting) the new modification of the rule clearly defined the work that must be done by a licensed plumber.  In simple terms, anything behind the wall of a residential unit, or work that requires the main water system to be turned off or installing new appurtenances, fixtures or appliances (definitions of these terms see below) cannot be done unless a licensed plumber performs the work.  A “Handyman” can replace or repair a fixture, toilet, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc. however if there is a change to the source of culinarily water or drainage to the “Plumbing System” that was originally installed, only a licensed plumber can perform the work.  There is no monetary value associated with this new rule.

A Few Examples to Illustrate:

  • Simple dishwasher replacement – Handyman
  • Dishwasher relocated or a new installation – Plumber Only
  • Toilet Repaired or Replaced – Handyman
  • Toilet relocated in bathroom, any changes – Plumber Only
  • New bathroom installed in a home – Plumber Only
  • Toilet Replaced, Water valve behind toilet will not turn off, Main water is turned off to replace or bypass the valve – Plumber Only.

These are just a few examples.  Essentially the rule is any new or change to the existing plumbing system to a residential unit must be completed by a licensed plumber.
NOTE: Any changes or replacement to water heaters can only be performed by a license plumber.

*  Another item the UPHCA worked on and through the rule making process changed was the “Maintenance Exception.” This was an issue that the UPHCA found concerning, DOPL was defining incorrectly.  It was any property owner with their W-2 employees or “their agents” could do any plumbing work on their own facilities, no individual license necessary under this previous rule.  The UPHCA proposed a change to the rule and was enacted over a year ago:

([5]6)  (a) “Maintenance” means [the] routine actions to repair, [replacement and refinishing of] replace, refinish, or preserve any component of an existing structure in its original condition.[; but,]
(b) “Maintenance” does not include:
(i) alteration or modification to [the] existing weight-bearing or structural components; or
(ii) any work that involves an electrical or plumbing system.

The Maintenance Exception clearly excludes plumbing or electrical systems.

*  Licensing continues to be a concern with an effort to reduce requirements or end licensing all together in the State of Utah.  The UPHCA has an excellent record of working with the legislature and with DOPL on these and other issues affecting the industry.  We have an excellent lobbyist team ensuring our voice is heard and our positions are understood.
 

The UPHCA is working hard for our industry and trade.  We can’t solve everything, nonetheless when an issue does come to our attention, we evaluate it and then start working on the solutions.  It’s a game of patience when working with government!

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” The Dalai Lama

The UPHCA is the Mosquito!

What does it mean to be locally owned and operated? What is the difference to the public and local economy?  Is it a benefit to the consumer?  When a large box store moves into an area what does it do to the local businesses?  Where does the profits to the big national stores or operations go?  These questions and others are evaluated by the local communities and experts all the time.  However, you the consumer what is your thoughts on this?

Many of the local businesses are your neighbors or who employ your neighbors or friends.  These local businesses support the local economy in so many ways. It seems that the trend in business is buying up smaller companies and managing all of them as one large multifaceted corporation.  In some situations multiple companies in the same market are owned by one company, however they retain the former name.  With this type of market approach, it can affect the consumers experience.  “Buyer Beware” is the phrase that we should remember and consider.  But how do we know which companies have taken this course of action?  Here is a list of local companies that have been purchased by large ‘venture capitalists’ corporations who look to expand their reach into a local market and in turn increase their bottom line.  Increasing the bottom line isn’t a bad thing at all, however when taking an unfair advantage of the markets and consumer it goes back to the phrase – “Buyer Beware”. We’ll let you decide!

Here are a few examples of what is happening in Utah.

Knox Lane: https://www.knoxlane.com/

  • Any Hour (Utah)
  • Black Diamond Experts (Utah)
  • Bumble Breeze Plumbing Heating & Air
  • Penguin Air (Phoenix)
  • AC by J (Scottsdale)
  • Advance Home Services (Southeast Idaho)

Friendly Group: https://friendlygroup.com/

  • Friendly Home Service
  • Just Right Heating & Cooling
  • Western Heating, Air, Plumbing
  • Main Street Heating & Cooling, Plumbing

APEX Service Partners: https://apexservicepartners.com/ – alpineinvestors.com

  • Whipple
  • All Pro Plumbing – St. George

Bestige: https://bestigeholdings.com/

  • Craigs Services
  • Comfort Solutions
  • Comfort Construction Services
  • My Buddy the Plumber
  • Same Day
  • Walker Plumbing
  • Superior Water & Air
  • ICS – Intermountain Comfort Supply
  • Lee’s Heating – Air Conditioning – Duct Cleaning – Water Treatment
  • Comfort Construction (HVAC)
  • Utah Engineering (HVAC, Plumbing) (Commercial)
  • Beehive Plumbing

TurnPoint: https://www.turnpointservices.com/

  • Scott Hale Plumbing & Heating

American Residential Services (Charles Bank): https://www.ars.com/

  • YES! (Formally ESCO and Rescue Rooter)

The Plumbing Industry, it seems, have a few unethical companies who are receiving ‘referral fees’ from some restoration companies.  Below are comments from a respected restoration company who is also a ‘Qualified’ member of the UPHCA sharing their insights.

Plumber referral fees are now possibly up to $1500 with certain restoration companies that give referral fees.  The average mitigation job is approximately $3000 and these restoration companies are putting their referral fee amounts into the estimate for clients.   These restoration companies are “fluffing” their estimates to cover the cost of the referral fees they are giving out.  This can be costly to homeowners and insurance companies.  The homeowners and insurance companies end up paying for the “fluff”, causing a snowball effect for anyone involved in the insurance industry, including the homeowners.  

There have been several instances where the homeowners could have avoided putting in a claim with the true cost of the services under their deductible, but the “fluff” in the estimate pushed that homeowner to have to put in a claim, due to them not being able to cover the full amount of the mitigation and/or repair costs.  There are also instances where a homeowner has a high deductible or there is no insurance coverage on the type of damage that occurred.  Even on these type of claims, the referral monies are still hidden in the estimate.  Homeowners have to pay out-of-pocket for the services in these cases, which could very well cause a hardship for the homeowner.  Homeowners could also have issues with renewal of their home insurance policy, because there may have been claims put in that didn’t necessarily have to be a claim.  There have been many claims that could have cost less than the homeowners’ deductible, but due to the referral fees, the cost of the mitigation or repairs became more than their deductible.  This causes the problem of the homeowner having possible issues on renewing their insurance due to the amount of claims being put in under that insured’s home.

Insurance companies also incur these costs, because mitigation can be an emergency service. Adjusters (especially remote) don’t have the time or oversight to be able to protect homeowners or their respective insurance carriers from the restoration companies “fluff” due to the nature of emergency claims.  

Overall, homeowners and insurance companies are the affected people that have to suffer the consequences of referral fees. Everyone else suffers too, in which these practices can make insurance companies increase premiums for all insureds.