How to Find the Best Plumber in Your Area
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Posted August 2, 2019
According to Home Advisor, you can expect to pay between $175 and $450 for the typical plumbing job in your home. (This does not include major repair or renovation.) If your job is quoted by the hour, you can expect to pay $45 to $200 per hour. Those are wide ranges, which means that you should know what you are getting for those hard-earned dollars. The stereotype is that tradespeople, like plumbers, rip people off. Unfortunately, that is the case in some instances, but that never has to be you. With a little research, and possibly some help from your friends, you can find the best plumber for your job. Read on to learn how.
How to Find the Best Plumber
When you invite a plumber or any other trade worker into your home, you are expecting quality work at a fair price. Because some people do shotty work, it is hard to trust that the company you found is reputable. Below is a list of ways to ensure the plumber you hire does the job you want.
Keep in mind that plumbers do a wide variety of jobs, below is a shortlist of the activities you can expect your plumber to perform.
- Drain issues and replacement,
- Installation of new fixtures or pipes,
- Hot water heater installation,
- Sewer line issues,
- Bathroom, kitchen repair or remodeling,
- Septic system installation and repair, and
- Water quality issues (installing softeners for example).
Ask for Referrals
It is always best to know someone who knows someone. In today’s day and age, post the question on social media and see who your friends or neighbors have used. The veil of anonymity of Facebook and Instagram almost guarantees you will get honest answers.
You can also ask another tradesman. Maybe you have an electrician you love, chances are they know a plumber they respect and can recommend. You may even get a discount if the pair regularly refer to each other.
If you don’t have a referral, you can still find the best plumber for your job. Your first step is to check is their qualifications.
Are They Qualified & Licensed?
Most states license plumbers and keep a statewide directory you can search to confirm that the plumber holds a current license. The National Contractor License Service also maintains a national database of the state licensing information. Your instinct may be to trust the marketing or contractors word, but a few minutes on the internet can save you time and money in the long run.
You should also ensure they have a current business license, this can be done through the state. This is especially important if you working with a smaller or newer business. A plumbers license tells you they are qualified to do plumbing. A business license tells you that they are professionals looking to serve their customers.
There are 3 different titles a plumber can have. They refer to his/her experience level and training. It is not uncommon on larger jobs to have all three types of plumbers on the project. You should ask the title of the plumber who will be doing your work. If it is simple, you should expect a Journeyman and or Apprentice Plumber. Larger jobs require more skill so seek out a Master Plumber.
Below is a brief description of each level of qualification.
The first level is an Apprentice Plumber. An apprenticeship program provides on the job training for new plumbers. Apprenticeship programs are run either through the company or through the local union. Along with the on the job training, the Apprentice Plumber will do additional classroom work. An apprenticeship typically lasts 4-5 years. You should not be concerned if you have an apprentice doing your job, they are overseen by more senior plumbers.
After being an Apprentice, you become a Journeyman Plumber. This is not an automatic transfer, plumbers must apply for their Journeyman license. Journeymen plumbers have to also pass an exam to earn the title. As a Journeyman, there are still some limitations on the type of work that can be performed. If a plumber says he finished his Apprenticeship but is not a Journeyman, that should raise a red flag. He/she may have the experience, but is not taking the professional steps necessary to show it.
To become a Master Plumber, the Journeyman must have a specific number of years in the trade. In addition, they must possess academic training from either a community college or vocational school. Master plumbers must also pass an exam that has both written and practical components. Continuing education, done annually, is required to maintain their credential.
Master plumbers are ultimately required to oversee Journeymen and Apprentice as well as ensure that work is done to state and local code. This is often a crew leader or manager.
As the homeowner, you have the right to ask about the qualifications of the crew that will be working on your job
Are They Insured and Bonded?
You want to find a contractor that is insured and bonded. Keep in mind, these are two different things. A Bonded contractor carries insurance that will compensate you, the homeowner, if they fail to meet the standards of the industry, e.g. fail to pull the right permit. Or in the worse case, they fail to finish the job.
The insurance covers an accident that happens on the job. Qualified plumbers carry both liability and workers compensation insurance.
You should confirm they have both if they don’t and something goes wrong you won’t have any recourse. Remember, keep in mind, tradespeople working in your home who do not have insurance will be covered by your homeowner’s policy if something happens. You definitely don’t want that.
Get References and Check Online Reviews to Find the Best Plumber.
If your plumber didn’t come from a referral, as for a reference. Good plumbers have former customers that will be able to speak to their qualifications. You also want to check with the Better Business Bureau they can help ensure your plumber is high quality. Take the time to read the reviews.
You may also want to check out their social media and see how they are interacting with their former customers. Chances are that a marketing or staff person is responding to posts, but it will give you a sense of their business style. More importantly, people will bash plumbers online who do not meet expectations.
Research How Long They Have Been in Business
This is especially important after major environmental events. You want to make sure that the plumber is qualified and not someone that is just sweeping in to take advantage of the disaster. Qualified plumbers will be too busy after a disaster to come door to door to solicit business. It is probably safe to assume that your door knocker is a fly by night business.
Usually, the longer a plumber has been in business the better. The market should weed out those not making the grade.
Get More Than 1 Quote
Some people feel that getting more than one quote is a waste of time or might offend their plumber. Qualified professionals expect you to shop around, and may even tell you upfront why their quote may be different from their competitors. Keep in mind when you get multiple quotes you need to compare apples to apples, not oranges. Another important lesson here is that cheaper isn’t always better. The old adage is you can have your work done, fast, cheap, or well, but you can only choose two of the three.
Do They Have a Guarantee?
What is their guarantee that the project will be done, on the time frame you are quoted? What are the steps to take if you are not satisfied? Be sure to get all this information in writing. Plumbers that are confident in their work, typically include it in the quote. At Hiller, we are so confident in our work we back it up with the Happy You’ll Be or the Service is Free guarantee.
If you have a large project, you may want to consider offering bonuses for getting the job done earlier and discounts on the final cost, if the timeline becomes longer than promised.
Pricing Goals and Red Flags
There are a couple of other red flags to consider when it comes to the pricing of the job itself. You want to make sure that the pricing is transparent.
Quotes Over the Phone
Caution, if a plumber is quoting you a price without seeing the job, you should expect the actual cost to be higher. Without seeing the problem, he/she has no idea of what other challenges lie in the pipes or inside the wall. Most plumbers prefer to see the job and then quote. With our True Transparency Pricing, over 80% of repairs cost just $199.
Extra Tips on Finding the Best Plumber
- Ask the plumber or technician who comes to quote your job about the company and how long he has worked there.
- Ask to have the job explained to you. This will make comparing quotes easier. Qualified plumbers can explain the job to you in a language you understand. Ask questions if something is skipped over. If the plumber struggles to explain why a quoted activity is required, that should cause you concern.
- You want a lot of detail. You also want to ensure your plumber is knowledgeable about the tasks at hand.
- Everyone loves a deal, but the cheapest bidder is not always the best. How are they doing the job at that cost and staying in business? Are they using low-quality materials that will just have to be replaced again in a short period of time? Possibly they don’t really understand the job and hence have underbid it.
- The opposite is also true, they may come in on the extreme high end of your quotes. This may suggest a new or different work method, or it may be the choice of fixtures or material you have chosen. Sometimes, businesses are short-staffed and have to pay overtime to get your job done in a timely manner. Or finally, they may not really want the job, so they are charging a premium in the hopes that you choose another plumber. Make sure you ask and gauge the answers closely.
- Trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right chances are it is not right.
Are There Household Plumbing Projects You Need to Address?
If you are looking for the best plumber, schedule an appointment with Hiller. Our experienced and licensed plumbers with ensure you know the price of the job and the work that will be done. We are a family-owned business where we strive to show our customers we care as much about their plumbing needs as they do.