CHECKLIST: 5 Questions To Ask Plumbers In Orange County

As with any contractor you hire, there are practical things you need to establish before the work begins. Here are the 5 key questions to ask when hiring a plumber to do work in your home.

LICENSING

Q1: Are you a licensed plumber?

  • What?

    Being licensed means the plumber is registered with a governing body at the state or local level. A plumbing license is an official stamp of approval that proves the plumber is qualified to work on your home’s plumbing. If your state requires licensing, be sure your plumber has passed all tests to get a license.

    Be somewhat wary of newly licensed plumbers without much experience. Still, they also may provide a better rate than those with more years of experience.

  • Why?

    Many operate without a license, so don’t just take the plumber’s word for it. Consider only licensed plumbers, especially if your state requires licensing, as most US states do. If you choose to work with a great plumber who isn’t licensed, his work may not pass inspection, and you’ll have little recourse because you decided to hire him despite that fact. Always ask.

    If the plumbing contractor can’t come up with a license, you’re better off checking out their competition. Plumbers without a license may scam people out of proper plumbing services, or create up-charges while in the middle of a job. An unlicensed plumber often doesn’t have a team or organization to report back to. If they take advantage of a customer and charge extra, there’s no one for the customer to negotiate with later on about the services done.

  • How?

    Ask him/her to show evidence of his/her license.

BONDED & INSURED & WARRANTY

Q2a: Are you bonded and insured?

Q2b: May I check that your contractor’s insurance is valid and current?

Q2c: What kind of guarantee or warranty comes with your work?

  • What?

    Any legitimate plumbing contractor will have insurance in place to protect their workers, should they become injured on the job.

    If the plumbing contractor doesn’t have insurance in place, you may be responsible for covering medical bills for an injured worker. Even if the plumber is at fault for the injury, because it happened on your property, you may have to pay.

    Valid insurance not only protects you if something goes wrong, but it also protects the plumber because it’s a safety net they can use.

    Before signing any contract, ask what kind of guarantee or warranty comes with the plumber’s work. Some will promise to come back within a year and fix any problems; some will offer service only on certain fixtures in a bathroom or under certain conditions if a leak occurs. Make sure that any kind of guarantee or warranty is in writing.

  • Why?

    Evaluate only plumbers who can deliver proof of insurance. A “yes” answer indicates that the plumber is prepared to give you evidence of his/her bonding and insurance.

    If asked, tell the plumber you don’t want to be legally responsible for plumber injuries while on the job or in your home fixing a plumbing issue. You have the right, if not the duty, to ask this question.

    The best plumbers typically offer some type of guarantee on the work they perform. Before hiring a plumber, ask them what type of warranty they offer, and make sure they are willing to stand behind their work. Warranties are often time-based, like 90-days, a year, five years, or a ten-year warranty. Depending on the project, there are even some lifetime warranties, should a part fail or need replacement.

    Warranties can be a godsend when something goes wrong shortly after the completion of the project. With a warranty, you are able to protect your latest plumbing investment. Plumbing warranties also help ensure a job gets done right because no one wants to come back and redo a job a second time.

  • How?

    Ask, “Are you bonded and insured?”
    Ask, “May I check that your contractor’s insurance is valid and current?”
    Ask, “What kind of guarantee or warranty comes with your work?”

ESTIMATES & RATES

Q3a: What’s the estimated total cost of fixing my plumbing problem? Will the estimate cover all the costs, including materials and labor, and even delays caused by unforeseen complications?

Q3b: Is the rate hourly or fixed?

  • What?

    After analyzing your plumbing, the professional should be able to give you accurate estimates of what the charge should be for solving the plumbing problem. Price is sometimes associated with the quality of work. This means that you should not hire a plumber simply because they charge the least amount for a particular service. However, you should always make sure that a plumber’s price is fair and competitive before hiring them.

  • Why?

    Homeowners should be careful, if not skeptical, about quotes you receive over the phone. Good plumbers typically want to see and analyze your piping problem before giving you an estimate or before they start work. A trustworthy plumber will usually give you a ballpark estimatedepending on what you describe to them. Still, a dependable plumber won’t give you an exact price until they take a look at your plumbing needs specifically.

    Once they have had a chance to look over the job and provide you with a cost estimate, ask if the quote includes materials, labor and a contingency for any problems. Some quotes only include basic cost of materials and will skyrocket as a job goes on. Some plumbing contractors will try to nickel and dime you for expenses that should have been included in the initial estimation.

    Experienced professionals include the cost of any new parts needed to complete the repair. You can verify this issue by asking the plumber you’re considering if the price estimate includes both parts and labor cost.

    When getting an estimate, ask the plumber if the quote is a flat rate – one that won’t change because of labor costs – or if they are using an hourly rate plus the cost of materials. If hourly, know that while materials are a fixed price, if the job runs long, the cost will keep going up while you pay for labor.

    Make sure you know what you’re getting before you sign a contract.

  • How?

    Ask, “What’s the estimated total cost of fixing my plumbing problem?
    Will the estimate cover all the costs, including materials and labor, and even delays caused by unforeseen complications?”

    Ask, “Is the rate hourly or fixed?”

PAYMENT

Q4: When do you want payment?

  • What?

    Always ask when the plumber expects to be paid, and how much of the total cost he wants upfront.

    Some will use a system of “milestones”: Once a certain piece of work is completed, you will be required to pay a certain percentage. Some will use time: After a specified number of weeks, you will pay a certain portion of the total cost. Milestones are often better since payment is only given out upon the completion of certain tasks. Time payments can work, but if the plumber works slowly, you may be paying too much for too little.

    For major plumbing projects, your contractor should ask for payments in installments spread throughout the project. For example, if you’re having entire pipelines changed or cleaned. This type of plumbing project could take a week, and each day you may pay a flat rate that adds up to the total charge.

    For smaller projects, like clearing a line or installing a standard shower system, your plumber will usually ask for payment once the job is complete.

  • Why?

    If your potential plumber asks for 100 percent of the cost before the job starts, walk away. Upfront payments are dangerous because the plumbing contractor may rush sections or skip over essential steps entirely because they know they’ve already been paid.

  • How?

    Ask, “When do you want payment?”

CLEAN UP

Q5a: Is cleanup included as part of the quote?
Q5b: (If not) Why?

  • What?

    Cleanup should include the disposal of all trash brought in by the plumber, and the repair of anything damaged or moved in the plumbing process.

    While most plumbers will clean up the worksite once the job is done, this isn’t always guaranteed. Always ask if cleanup is included as part of a quote, and if not, ask why.

    Some companies may charge for cleanup in addition to completing a job, which is why it’s best to check this out before the project starts. The cost may be worth it – but do remember to ask.

  • Why?

    This should be obvious, but some plumbing companies don’t clean up when they’re finished, leaving a homeowner with old parts, boxes for new materials and a giant, dirty mess.

  • How?

    Ask, “Is cleanup included as part of the quote?”
    If not, ask, “Why?”

Orange County Residents & Businesses Trust A-1 Speedy Rooter & Plumbing

We are licensed, bonded, insured & we warranty our work. Our estimates are fair when we visit your home to assess the scope of the job. Finally, we pride ourselves on keeping the job site clean after we’ve completed our work. Call us today.

Note: In this pandemic, our suppliers close early so we also offer over-the-phone quotes for customers so as to be able to get supplies before stores close for the day.

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