Where to Start When Hiring a Plumber
Knowing how to hire a plumber can certainly help keep your stress level to a minimum. At some point, everybody needs help with their plumbing, whether it’s a leaky faucet, a broken pipe or a flood from your water heater.
If the work isn’t done correctly, even small leaks can result in major issues . . . and expensive repair costs. Whether you are looking to hire a plumber to perform routine maintenance, install fixtures or appliances, or repair a leak, here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.
Each state has different training requirements that plumbers need to meet, but all states require math, mechanics, and the ability to problem solve. Not every plumber will have the same amount of training and it’s important to be familiar with the training and certification methods used for the plumbing profession. The level of competence your plumber has is often directly related to the level of training he has had on his way to becoming a master plumber
This is a plumber who is learning the trade by completing on-the-job training as well as classroom training. The majority of apprentice plumbers enter the program thru a local union. Although, it is also possible to apprentice with a licensed plumber.
This is an individual who has spent 4-to-5 years as an apprentice in order to reach a Journeyman status. Requirements vary from state-to-state, but most states require the successful completion of an exam and ongoing education for license renewal.
The highest level a plumber can achieve is a master plumber. Each state sets a required minimum number of years for the plumber to work as a journeyman. Once achieved, they are then eligible to apply with their states Contractors Board. The application process usually consists of a written and practical knowledge examination.
Licensed or Not?
The majority of states require contractors to be licensed. A licensed plumber has achieved the necessary amount of education and training required by his state to perform plumbing jobs. He has also successfully passed a written exam and demonstrated that he is competent in the trade. In essence, the state has given him legal permission to work as a plumber.
Once licensed, there is generally continuing education required in order to maintain an active license. The state’s regulatory board sets rules and regulations that the plumber must meet. If the board’s rules and regulations are violated he will be held liable and could face fines in addition to having his license suspended or even revoked.
Hiring an unlicensed plumber could result in a major headache for the homeowner. Not only may the work not be done correctly, but there may be dangerous consequences such as fire and/or leaking. Your state may even require that the work is removed, and they may issue fines to the homeowner. An unlicensed contractor could even be sent to jail!
Questions To Ask Before You Hire!
Are You Licensed?
This is probably the most important question you can ask. The majority of states require plumbers to be licensed, however, each state has different requirements so it’s important that you know your individual state’s licensing requirements.
Many state governments provide a contractor license search on their website. This feature will allow the homeowner to enter the contractor’s license number to verify the license status. By checking the license number you’ll be able to verify whether the contractor you are considering is legitimate and licensed.
See the table at the end of the article for the individual state website links. You’ll be able to verify the plumber’s license. NEVER hire a non-licensed plumber.
What is the Total Cost?
Don’t hire the first plumber you talk with, and get at least 3 written estimates. Most plumbers will give you an onsite estimate after physically looking at the job.
Many tasks such as installing a water heater are pretty straight forward and easy to quote, but you should still have the estimate in writing. Documentation is your friend and a good plumber will be happy to provide you with written estimates.
As you review the estimate, be sure to ask if the price quoted is the total cost. All parts and labor should be included. Discuss any potential problems that may arise and what to expect from a cost standpoint if the unexpected occurs.
Will You Be Doing The Work?
Chances are if you are working with a small plumbing company the plumber who is preparing your estimate will also be completing the job. However, many larger companies employ multiple plumbers and another person may do the work. Although this is not necessarily a problem, it is something you should be aware of upfront!
If someone other than the person preparing the estimate is doing the work, ask for details about their training and experience. A reputable plumbing company will understand your concern and be able to provide you with these details.
When Is Payment Due?
If you are just doing a simple job, most likely you won’t need to worry about setting up a payment schedule. But for more extensive jobs, such as remodels, you’ll definitely want to know the terms up front.
Many plumbers require a payment of 10-15% of the job upfront, and 50% paid once the job is started. Be sure to know the payment expectation before you make a hiring decision.
Even if you don’t need to set up a payment plan, it’s a good idea to know how the plumber expects to be paid. In today’s world, most will accept credit cards but knowing this before hiring is always a good idea.
Is The Quote a Flat Rate?
For many plumbing jobs, such as installing a water heater, the job is quoted as a flat rate. A flat rate means that the quoted price won’t change because of labor expenses.
Sometimes plumbers will add a clause into their contract that states that the homeowner will pay any reasonable costs that occur while finishing the job. In this case, the plumber will be charging the homeowner an hourly rate in addition to the cost of parts. If the job runs longer than expected, the price of labor will increase as well.
Is Clean-up Included in the Bid?
Many plumbers clean-up after themselves and haul away any old parts, including old water heaters. But if they don’t provide clean-up, the homeowner could be left with a huge mess. Empty boxes, discarded parts, and even your old water heater could all be left for you to clean.
Some plumbing services offer clean-up for an additional fee above and beyond the work they were hired to perform. If this is the case you may choose to pay the additional fee, do the clean up yourself, or hire a clean-up service such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
Is Your Work Guaranteed?
Guarantees vary between plumbers, but you should always find out the specifics before signing a contract. Make sure that whatever is verbally promised is in writing and file it away in a place where you can find it if you ever need follow-up work done.
Are You Bonded and Insured?
Make sure the plumber is bonded and has the appropriate insurance to cover any accidents that might occur. Never hire a non-licensed plumber.
Do You Have Any References?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. A reputable plumber should be able to provide you with the names of other satisfied customers who he has worked for in your area.
It is also likely that there are references available online or thru the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind, that one person’s poor experience does not necessarily mean that you will have a bad experience. But the more information you have, the better informed you are to make a good decision. The time to do your research is before you hire a plumber.
The Following is My Process When You Call Robert Sessa Plumbing…
When you place a call to my number 718-745-5210 you will be greeted by one of my professional answering service customer service representatives. Upon receiving all of your contact information and address, they will immediately forward it to my smartphone. You must include your address or I will not return your call!
My response time is generally within two hours, barring an emergency in which case I’ll call you immediately. If you choose to e-mail me, the same two hour response time applies barring an emergency. For those of you who have the privilege of my cell phone number, keep reading…
If I am working in customers home and you call or text me, I will not respond until I’m out of their home. It’s rude and unprofessional to pick up a phone or text while in the presence of a customer. I’ll give YOU the same respect! The same two-hour response window applies!
My Method of Pricing
Flat Rate Prices
I, unfortunately, do not provide “FREE ESTIMATES”, I just cannot be running around Brooklyn & Staten Island all day quoting prices. It’s economical suicide and serves no purpose to me.
I do charge a Nominal service call fee of $59.00 to come out and assess your plumbing or heating problem. Once I see the job circumstances I will then provide you a flat rate quote for the entire job. If you choose to accept my quote, I will waive the initial $59.00 service call fee. You pay the quoted price, plus any applicable sales tax.
If you decide to continue shopping to get other price quotes, I will collect the full-service call charge of $59.00 for my time. Please note that the service call charge includes approximately 15 minutes of my time which is generally enough time to assess job site circumstances.
If in making a diagnosis, the opening of any walls, floors, access points is necessary, I will quote a flat rate price for that service before proceeding. For more information and my take on the pricing issue please stop by my pricing page.
Payment Is Due Immediately Upon The Completion of My Services.
I accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Cards. Thank You!