Many homeowners only contact a local plumber when an emergency is already in progress. This is a bad idea and a little advanced preparation can go a long way to getting you the help you need when time is of the essence. The last thing you need when a pipe bursts is to be involved in checking ratings for local plumbers. Ideally, you should choose your plumber in advance, get to know them, schedule regular inspections, and build a relationship. Before you choose a professional plumber, here are eight questions that you should ask first.
1. Are You Licensed?
Every professional plumber should be licensed. This is an official stamp of approval and it proves that they can work on your home plumbing system safely. It may be tempting to “save money” and hire a handyman or carry out DIY repairs, but this can be counterproductive in the medium to long term. Always choose a professional licensed plumber, and if they can’t show a license, check out other plumbers in your area. Like any industry, there are unscrupulous people operating as plumbers without a license. They tend to scam people, create inflated bills or hidden charges and then disappear when something goes wrong. Don’t deal with scammers, choose a licensed plumber with a proven track record for good work and service. It may cost more, but ultimately it’s worth the extra cost and you will have peace of mind.
2. Does Your Estimation Cover All Costs?
When a note of payment is received, some unscrupulous contractors can attempt to nickel and dime you for hidden expenses that should have been factored into their initial estimation. This is bad practice, the plumbing contractor should only supply you with an estimation after they have checked every aspect of your current situation thoroughly. Avoid contractors that try to give you an estimate over the phone because this will not be accurate and it’s typically a sales technique to increase the estimate later. A good plumber may give you a ballpark estimate based on your description, but they won’t commit to that until they have taken a look at your plumbing situation firsthand. Always ask a potential plumber about how their estimate is affected by unforeseen complications, delays, material costs, and labor problems.
3. Do You Charge a Flat or Hourly Rate?
It’s important to understand how your plumbing contractor is paid before you sign any contract. A contractor that works with an hourly rate may be less efficient and this can lead to budget overruns. This type of plumbing contractor may be more inclined to hide information from you until the job is almost completed to get a few extra hours of pay. For these reasons, we recommend that you go with a plumber that works for a flat rate instead. They tend to work harder and more efficiently because they want to complete the job and move on to the next job to boost their profit margins.
4. When Do You Need a Payment?
During the course of a major plumbing project, it’s more likely that your contractor will ask for the payments to spread into installments scheduled throughout the duration of the project. As an example: imagine you need to have pipes cleaned or replaced. This may take a full week and each day you might pay the flat rate to reach the final charge when the work is finished. For a smaller plumbing project, such as a shower installation or a drain line clearance, you will usually pay on the completion of the project. If you are asked for the full payment in advance, this is a warning sign and you should walk away. Paying an upfront payment is bad practice when hiring any kind of contractor because they can rush the job or produce shoddy work as they already have your money.
5. Do You Have Insurance?
Every legitimate plumber will have sufficient insurance cover in place to protect their employees if they are injured at work. This is important, if a worker gets injured on your property and they don’t have insurance, you could be liable for their medical bills. This is true even if the plumbing contractor is at fault, and this is another reason why you shouldn’t hire a “handyman”. A professional plumber should have current contractor’s insurance that will protect them and you if something goes wrong in your home. If a plumbing contractor cannot show you a valid insurance plan, you must walk away from the deal.
6. Do You Supply a Warranty?
Warranties are usually time sensitive. They may last for 90 days up to 5 or 10 years depending on the plumbing project. If a plumbing contractor offers warranties, they can add a lot of value if a part fails or you need a replacement later. This is especially useful when a project was finished recently, and there is some type of unexpected failure. When you have a valid warranty you can protect your plumbing investment. This is also an incentive for the plumber to get the job done right the first time because no one wants to return to a job to repeat the work a second time.
7. Do You Have Experience with This Type of Project?
Some plumbing projects are very intensive, intricate, or time sensitive, and they may be beyond the reach of some contractors. So, you need to check if the contractor is familiar with this type of job. Don’t be afraid of asking for references that prove successful completion. A great client testimonial can go a long way to proving that your potential plumbing contractor is up to the task. It’s important to remember that less experienced plumbers tend to work on an apprentice basis with more experienced contractors to develop their skills. If this vital step is skipped, it can cause problems when they estimate the times for larger projects which can affect the successful completion of the job on time.
8. Do You Clean Up?
A good plumbing contractor should clean up after the job, but this isn’t guaranteed. Huge messes can be left behind and it’s important to understand how this will be handled in advance. Certain plumbing contractors will charge a fee for cleanup services and others may factor it into the cost of the project.
If you want to hire a local licensed plumber with an excellent track record, get in touch with us today.