Homeowner How To: Hiring a Plumber

Written by Carrie B.  |  18. October 2012

Leaky pipes? Toilet won’t stop running? Clogged drain? Renovating a bathroom or kitchen? Hiring a plumber can either be an emergency or a plan, and wading through the phone numbers and names at the last minute in either situation can be daunting. So where do you start? Who is the right plumber for your job and how do you select a good plumber?

Some plumbers specialize in minor home repairs, such as leaky pipes, running toilets or clogs. Most will charge you a minimum service call amount to come and evaluate the issue at hand, and give you an estimate to repair it. If you own a home, it is important to screen the plumber you wish to hire in advance so that you know who to call when an emergency comes up.

Always ask for their company name, address, license number and insurance certificate to verify that the company is legitimate. Call to your local consumer affairs office and check out their record, to find out if they have any pending complaints, have been known to rip off consumers or have a record of dishonest business dealings. Make sure their business license is current and ask how many years they have been in business. Call the insurance company to make sure the insurance is still in effect and current. A good rule of thumb when it comes to hiring any contractor is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask for client references and look up the company on the internet to see if there are any reviews on them and what other folks are saying about dealing with their company or what their service is like. Happy clients are the biggest testament to a good company.

If you are planning a major renovation, like a kitchen, bathroom or remodeling your home, make sure to meet with your plumber in advance to get cost estimates and go over the new layout. Discussing the layout while it is in the design phase can help you to accurately plan and estimate your design before you finalize it. Always request a written quote that notes what work is to be completed, a payment schedule, what items are being installed and who is responsible to provide the materials required. Make sure to let them know when the job is expected to begin and ask if the quote will expire by then. Ask about their schedule, how much notice they need in advance of starting the job, how many days they expect to complete the work, and who will be on the jobsite. Will it be one person or one of many available tradespersons? Request to have one main plumber handle your entire job, so as to avoid misunderstandings and errors.  

Planning your job is vital to getting an accurate estimate of the work and making sure the work is completed correctly in a timely manner. If you are undertaking a large renovation, be sure to consult with a professional kitchen and bath designer, architect or interior designer. Generally, plumbing supplies take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to come in. Errors in ordering plumbing supplies are the number one reason that jobs are delayed. Delays to your job can be very costly and by the time the correct items come in, your plumber may have to be on their next job. Using a skilled professional to assist you in planning the job and ordering your plumbing supplies will ensure your job runs smoothly, the products are ordered correctly, and the job proceeds in the a timely manner.

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