How to Find the Best Plumber
The difference with having to choose a good plumber and having to choose a joiner, builder or painter is that a plumber is more often than not called when there is an emergency. This means that you might not have too much time to look around.
Anyway, here are some good tips on how to find a good plumber for all circumstances.
Unfortunately, it does seem that in the plumbing trade there are more horror stories of people being ripped off than from the other trades. Of course, every trade will have its "cowboys".
Plumbing also entails work that most DIY enthusiasts also don't have much experience in. Where some will enjoy putting cabinets together, or painting and decorating, not many will feel happy soldering pipes or messing around with fixing sewage lines.
So how can you be sure that you're getting the right plumber?
Finding the Right Plumber
Usually the best route is a personal recommendation. This way you can at least vet the plumber beforehand and get enough information to make an informed decision.
Of course, if your pipes have sprung a leak, or your toilet is spewing its contents up, you might not have much time to ask around for recommendations.
What to do in an Emergency?
In a plumbing emergency the first port of call will probably be the internet or Yellow Pages. In the United Kingdom you can go to the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE). This is a charity whose goal is to "improving the science, practice and engineering principles of plumbing". There you will be able to search for registered plumbers in your postcode area. These are plumbers who have been vetted and who meet certain criteria. The next step will be to start making some phone calls.
Before you agree to anything it's essential to find out the following:
- How long they have been in business and if they have locations you can visit. A well-established plumber is won't disappear during the job).
- Get some references.
- Have they done similar work before.
- Do they have insurance to cover your property (and that of your neighbors).
- Do they guarantee their work. Is this insurance backed? That means that if they go out of business then you are still covered.
- Is the plumber a member of a professional trade body? If you have time, then contact the trade body in question and to check out that they are currently registered.
Of course, if it's an emergency then you might not be able to do all of the above. But it's good to ask these questions anyway and you will get an idea of what kind of a plumber he is.
How to Hire the Right Plumber
Don't fall into the trap of hiring the first plumber that you called. If it's an emergency, describe in detail the problem and get a quote. Get quotes for three or four different plumbers so that you can compare prices. They questions that you need to find out from them are:
- What are their call-out charges?
- What are their hourly rates?
- When do they start their rates? (some charge you from the time that they leave their office)
How Much Will a Good Plumber Charge?
This all depends. There are no standard guidelines for how much a plumber can charge. So it's always best to get a detailed written quote on the work to be done and the cost of this, including materials.
Never pay 100% up-front of the price. You can be expected to pay a deposit, this is completely normal. The plumber may have fixtures and fittings that he has to buy. Make sure that the amount is reasonable.
Hiring a Plumber for Non-Emergency Jobs
Of course if you are planning a bathroom refit or thinking of installing central heating, then you have more time to ask around, get quotes, recommendations, check out previous work etc.
So what should you do to make sure that you hire the right plumber for the job?
- Get a written contract. This will include a detailed description of the work involved, the price, start and finish dates. If the end date is important to you, then make this clear from the start.
- Get details of any guarantees. This is necessary both for the work he does and for the items he has purchased.
- Keep a diary as to how the work is progressing. This does not need to be detailed, but it can help in case there is a dispute later on.
If You are Unhappy With the Work of a Plumber
In the case that you aren't satisfied with the work, then best thing is to take up the issue with the plumber. Do this in a calm and easy manner. It's best to put your complaint in writing, stating exactly what you feel was done properly. You can have some evidence from what you collected when the work was in progress. More often than not the plumber will be happy to rectify the issue. In these trades reputation is one of the most important aspects.
If this doesn't work, and the plumber is a member of a trade organization, then you will need to take it up with them. They will help to rectify the problem. Be willing to provide all records that you have of start and finish dates, costs, and contracts. Also some photos will be helpful.
If that doesn't work, then you may have to take the plumber to court.
Finding the right plumber is possible. Unfortunately there is a lack of skilled tradesmen and it means that there are a lot of unscrupulous plumbers around. If you follow these tips on finding the right plumber then you can lessen the chances that something will go wrong.