Advice on hiring a plumber
A plumber is a tradesperson who could be responsible for the installation and maintenance of your water supply and heating system in your home. This can include maintenance of the hot water boiler and fire (if gas or if it is a solid fuel back boiler). Exterior drainage and water proofing can also be worked on such as guttering, drain pipes, lead work on roofing and sewerage pipes.
The qualifications that a plumber requires depends on the type of job they are advertising themselves for.
At the top end if the job involves any maintenance of gas supply they have to be Gas Safe registered (in the UK). This means they have to firstly have a Gas Safe registration number, this can be checked at the Gas Safe Site. Always ask and check the number, don't assume because the advert says they are Gas Safe registered or some off-hand comment that they are. To become Gas Safe registered requires that the plumber has passed a Certificate of Competence through an Accredited Certification Scheme. If a plumber genuinely is Gas Safe registered then you are at least half way to finding someone who is professional inclined (doesn't mean they wont over-charge you though!).
Next down is that they are a member of the The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE). The organisation has been around for over 100 years and is fairly well respected with lots of qualified plumbers being members. However, it is not a legal requirement.
Basic qualifications include a obtaining an NVQ and technical certificate. This is usually obtained whilst working as an apprentice under the supervision of a more qualified plumber.
At the lowest level just because someone says they are a plumber or says they can do a specific job of the plumbing variety doesn't mean they are a qualified plumber. This is especially true of basic maintenance work such as clearing drains, replacing guttering and basic fixing of central heating systems. These jobs can be relatively simple (with a bit of know how) but with plumbers hourly rates being so high can cost a lot of money.
If in doubt get in someone professionally qualified or registered and check the details with the professional body in question.
- Central Heating - This can include installation of gas, electrical or solid fuel boilers, radiators all the pipe work and or under floor heating. We would recommend that the plumber is Gas Safe registered for this work.
- Sinks and washbasins- Advice on selecting the right type of sink and installation of
- Toilets - installation of the basin and associated pipe work
- Bathrooms - Installation of baths, showers, taps, washbasin making sure everything is watertight and correctly sealed.
- Drainage - Connection of the household water system to the main water supply and also removing effluent into the main sewage system or septic tank.
- Repairs - Repairs and maintenance to any or all of the above.
As of 2006, in the UK, one could expect to pay about £35-50 for a call out charge (normal working hours) and about £25-35 per hour for subsequent work. Any substantial material costs will be added on top of that. Expect to get washers or simple things included in the price but a new tap is surprisingly costly. A new central heating system can cost upward of £2500.
- The best option is a to ask friends and family have they used anyone who did a good job at a reasonable price. Remember did they actually use them or is this second or third hand information?
- Plumbing isn't rocket science, have a think about what the job might entail before the plumber arrives. It'll make you better prepared to think whether what they say is reasonable.
- If in doubt only use a professionally qualified plumber such as Gas Safe registered or perhaps a registered plumber from the IPHE. It's no guarantee of good work but its the best alternative after personal recommendation.
- If its a reasonable size job get at least three quotes and compare what each of them says about what needs doing, how long it will take and how much it will cost. The quotes must be written, not verbal, and not estimates. Look out for small print which could mean the job costs more than anticipated.
- Read our article on getting quotes
- If parts are required have a look on the Homebase or B&Q website and see how much they are charging for the part. Is the trade-price reasonable?
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"I love the quote "plumbing isn't rocket science". I don't really know whether to take it seriously or not..."
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"Quote: ■Plumbing isn\'t rocket science I would love to see a normal person try install and fully undertand a modern central heating system..."
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Julie in Manchester
"Hi, I needed an emergency plumber yesterday for a old unused pipe in the garage that was pushed out by ice. The pipe just needed closed perminantly. I called an emergency plumber, who finished the job in less than 10 mins and most of that was walking to and from the van. He had a charge of £240 plus VAT, is this common?"
"This is a quotation from john ruskin 1819 - 1900.
"LOOKING FOR VALUE"
Its unwise to pay too much, but it's unwise to pay to little, when you pay
too much you lose a little money that is all.
when you pay to little you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.
The common law of business prohibits paying a little and getting alot, it can't be done.
If you deal with the lowest bidder, it's well to add something for the risk you run.
And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.
think about it, it is a very true saying..
(Admin: True for a little over the top but what if you pay twice as much?)"
"I charge £45 an hour, by providing a fast reliable service ( within an hour )and doing excellent quality job, people are happy to pay, remember you are providing them with a service they have requested. I don't feel guilty charging this and nor should any other plumber."
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"this is a very usful page and has helped me with my decision"