Tips on Hiring a Plumber
Hiring a good plumber is an important decision because plumbing repairs and renovations can be expensive, and incompetent workmanship can quickly lead to further cost and aggravation. Whether you need a plumber for a complex job or to simply install a sump pump, there are many aspects to consider. In addition to hiring someone for a fair price, you also want your plumber to be trustworthy, knowledgeable, experienced, and efficient.
Of course, these matters are best contemplated when there is no water gushing onto your floor and you have time to compare plumbers. However, if you do find yourself in an emergency situation, it is generally a good idea to select the most established local company you can find.
Use a variety of resources to get started in your selection process.
Ask your friends, building contractors you know, or your real estate agent for their recommendations. They will likely be glad to share their experiences about plumbers they have hired. Be sure to find out what kind of work they had done, whether they were happy with the quality, and if the job was completed in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tales of satisfaction or woe, from someone you trust, carry a lot of weight when looking for a reliable tradesman.
An additional method of finding a good plumber is to check online for a local directory of plumbing contractors and then examine the customer reviews and ratings. You may be able to get a feel for the size and scope of a company’s work from their website. Review sites, like Angie’s List, can assist you in comparing several local plumbers, and some can even offer recommendations for specific types of work. Finally, you can also check with the Better Business Bureau.
Call Recommended Plumbers
Whether speaking directly to an independent plumber or the salesperson at a large company, you will get an impression of their business from a telephone interview. Have a list of questions ready and organize your findings with a chart or spreadsheet. Here are some topics to cover:
- Labor Costs: Is labor charged by the hour or is a flat rate applied to each specific task? There is no right or wrong here, but be aware that higher rates are usually charged after normal business hours. A plumber will most likely give you a rough estimate of time and cost over the telephone but will not work up a true quote without seeing the work to be done. Ask if they charge for the estimate itself or the travel time to get to your location.
- Credentials: A plumber’s license for your locale and current contractor insurance are both vital requirements. Ask for a copy of his insurance certificate and plumber’s license.
- Estimate and Contract: Will these documents be available in writing?
- Experience: Find out how long the contractor has been in the plumbing business and if he has experience with the type of work you need to have done. If the business has a number of plumbers and helpers, ask if you can request a journeyman.
- Service Warranty: What type of warranty is offered? The coverage can range from 30 days to 5 years.
- Additional Questions: Is a 24 hour service offered? If you do not already have referrals, can he supply a list of references?
- Your impression: Rate your impression of the telephone conversation. Were you treated with professionalism? It is important to feel comfortable, and to be able to communicate easily, with workers coming into your home.
Using the information you gleaned from your telephone calls, select at least three plumbers and have them come to your home to look at the project. Be sure to get an itemized, written estimate and a time frame for when the work could be completed. Ask how any cost overruns would be handled, or if there would be any extra fees. Also find out how and when they expect to be paid, and keep in mind that some plumbers require a percentage of the cost upfront.
Base your final hiring decision chiefly on the plumber’s reputation for reliability and quality. Sign a contract that specifies exactly what the work is, when it will be done, and how much it will cost. When considering the cost, a good rule of thumb is to select an estimate that is near the average price. Keep in mind that a very low estimate may signal an inexperienced plumber, while a very high estimate could mean they are too busy and cannot really devote sufficient time to your work.
Cost Considerations to Keep in Mind
- An experienced plumber may charge a higher rate but may also be a more efficient worker.
- If a plumber has a well-stocked van he may not need to run for parts as often while “on the clock.”
- Is your project likely to have surprises? If your pipes are very old, or if a leak is hidden behind a wall, for instance, then your plumber may actually be unable to give a hard and fast estimate. Ask instead for an upper limit of the cost.
- An experienced plumber will be able to recommend fixtures and appliances for your situation. However, you should try to have an idea of what you want beforehand, since this will save him time, which in turn could save you money. Have a concise list ready. Remember, most plumbers will want to buy all the supplies for the job themselves.
- Clarify working hours and arrangements.
- Be wary of plumbers who only accept cash, do not charge required tax, do not have bills or receipts printed with their company name, or ask for the majority of the payment upfront. This could be a warning sign of an unreliable or inexperienced tradesperson.
Following these guidelines will take some effort, but it could save you a considerable amount of time and money in the long run when hiring a plumber. Finally, remember that as eager as you are to hire a professional who performs his job well, your plumber is also hoping to be treated with respect and to be paid in a timely manner. You never know when you may need him again. If he does a commendable job, offer to give him a good recommendation, since someone is always looking for a good plumber.
The Tips on Hiring a Plumber by Water Damage Defense, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.