Among the tradesmen homeowners need to find at one time or another are plumbers and just like most other tradesmen, it can be very difficult to find a good one.
The plumbers that have earnt a good reputation are in high demand but if at all possible, worth waiting for. On the other hand, unfortunately there are plumbers out there that are not qualified and just want to cheat you out of your money. Hopefully these tips will help prevent that.
- Are they trained, qualified and licensed? It is of the utmost importance that you verify that they are qualified plumbers and have the necessary license/s to carry out the work for you.Unlicensed ‘plumbers’ are unlikely to carry full insurance that protects you and/or your neighbour's property in the event of a catastrophe. It would also be likely that your own insurance wouldn’t cover you if you engaged an unlicensed plumber who caused damage.
- References are important. Not just the ones you read on their website but written or if possible, verbal ones. Most plumbers will carry a file of references and may also be able to give you some past customers to call. Try to get two or more references and read online reviews (not on their website).Depending on the project, you may want to ask to see some of the work they have done. If applicable, read their Social Media pages like Facebook and twitter to see how they are interacting with their customers and how their customers comment.
- Ask how long they have been in business for.As with all trades, years of experience will generally result in a better job in a shorter time frame. Also, at the very least, this tells you they shouldn't disappear on you. Generally one would expect that reputable companies should last, while the disreputable ones will simply fade away. But sadly, that's not always the case and the ‘shonky’ ones can hang around and cause havoc for unsuspecting customers.
- Get more than one quote. But when doing so, ensure that you are comparing apples with apples.There are some companies with a policy to strip their quotes back to the bare minimum just so they can come in at the lowest price, but the work may be sub-standard and you may find that you have to get them back to do the job properly (and that is easier said than done) or worse, once they start the job, they ‘find’ other issues that require work and your quoted price goes out the window. After you have your quotes in, ask the company with the highest quote why their price is at that level. You may find that the answer you get will assist you greatly in making your decision.
- Ask if there are any guarantees for work and labour.There are all sorts of guarantees on offer and some just aren’t worth talking about. What does their company guarantee? Labour? Parts ? Is it money back? Is it limited in any way? Is it written on your bid/quote? Plumbers with faith in their performance standards and products/materials they use will have no problem standing behind their workmanship and products.
- Getting a quick quote over the phone is not always a good thing. It is tempting to accept a plumber who gives a quote for small jobs over the phone as it will save you time and effort. But, it isn't necessarily the sign of a good plumber.An experienced plumber is well aware that there could be a range of factors that will affect the outcome of even the smaller plumbing tasks. And as a result, they prefer to provide quotes only when they are inspecting the job on site so they know what is involved and can get it exactly right. A plumber knows that from a customer's perspective, there's nothing worse than the plumber saying it will cost a certain amount fix and when the task is completed they find that its really going to cost more because of some complications that were unforeseen when the quote was given sight unseen.
- Getting a flat, fixed quote is the best answer. By requesting a fixed quote you know exactly what the plumber will do and exactly how much you are liable for.But the only way this will be a truly accurate figure is if the plumber is on site and has inspected all aspects of the project to be completed.
- Big businesses with multiple branches or the small one man band? In most instances, the small operators will be much more affordable mainly because their overhead is lower than those of the larger businesses as they will operate from home and not require administrative staff or rental premises. However, the one man operations are often young guys who have just started out and whilst they have done all the necessary training, they are very inexperienced and have a lot of ‘hands on’ tricks to learn. Larger companies will obviously have higher overheads, but they have the benefit of more staff which allows them to select the appropriate plumber with the most suitable experience to attend to your job. So, paying a bit more for the peace of mind aspect together with back up support if needed is often a good approach provided the price variance isn’t too great.
- Get referrals from friends, family or neighbours.This is clearly the best way to find a good plumber. Having someone that has actually engaged the services of a plumber and was happy with their work and charges is one of the best ways to assist in your selection of the right plumber. However, again, make sure you are comparing apples with apples. If the person offering the referral used the plumber to change a few tap washers and you are looking for drainage work requiring drains to be dug and new pipes to be laid, you will need to weigh up the value of that referral and decide if you will use the services.
- If you are doing a project, ask some of the other tradespeople you have engaged. If you've had other tradesmen working for you in the past (or currently) and you were happy with their work, it would be a good idea to ask them if they know a plumber that they have worked with before and if they could recommend them. There is a likelihood that they have been working within the industry for a while so the chances are they'll have some contacts. In that event, if you call a plumber based on their reference, make sure you tell the plumber who it was that referred you. This will have the effect of ensuring that the plumber realises that he needs to do his best otherwise he may not get any more referrals from that fellow. Plus, who knows, they might even give you a ‘mates rates’ discount.