How to Find a Good Plumbing Contractor for a Home Renovation
June 13, 2019

There are a few  key facts to understand if you are in the planning stages of a home renovation, or are in the midst of a renovation and find that you have unexpected plumbing issues.

First you want to understand exactly what the issue is. It is common for a homeowner to confuse the water main pipe with the sewer pipe. Is your issue with the water main that brings in the clean water for drinking or showering? Or is your problem with the sewer that brings the waste water from your toilets out to the city sewer in the roadway?

Next you want to understand exactly where the problem is and provide a little more detail to the plumber that you contact. It is not important to provide extreme detail, this is the plumbers job to determine once he understands the basics.

Is the water main or sewer issue  inside of the house, or is your issue with the pipes that exit out to the street? It is important to understand exactly where the problem is as most licensed plumbers can assist with an internal plumbing problem however, there are only a select group of licensed plumbers who can assist with the pipes from the house to the roadway.

Now that you understand if the problem is with your water main or sewer you should obtain additional information on what the actual problem is.

Common issues
  1. The existing material is made of lead and you want to upgrade to copper
  2. The existing piping is corroded resulting in leaks
  3. The location of the piping is in an area that no longer works with the plans for your renovation. EXAMPLE: The piping may run through the middle of a room that is going to be a bedroom or the piping runs too low and falls below the new ceiling line.
  4. The piping must be lowered or raised to fall in line with new plumbing fixtures in the basement.
  5. The city or town you are in has updated their plumbing code and is now requiring a larger size pipe or sprinkler heads for fire protection.

Now that you understand the basics it is suggested to perform a google search and spend a few minutes reviewing a few plumbing companies that appear in your search. It is always suggested to read over the company google reviews and find a contractor you feel is reputable and professional.

Most consumers can get a good feeling of who the company really is after reviewing their website, reading reviews and spending a few minutes on the phone with a company representative.

Now that you have found 2-3 companies you feel comfortable with you should schedule an on site meeting at the location of your renovation. At this stage it is also very important to make sure that the company has an active license. You also want to confirm that the license holder is either the owner or a direct employee of the company.  There are many companies who rent a license from an individual that is no longer active and the license holder is happy to make a few dollars while someone else works under his license.

Does the plumber have direct employees or does he sub out any of the work? It is important to work with a company who has direct employees for a number of reasons. First and most important is the potential liability, you do not want someone working in your home that does not have the proper insurance. It is too often that a daily worker gets hurt on a worksite to then sue the property owner and the plumber as he has no allegiance to his company, and is simply interested in a quick dollar.

A few questions to ask
  1. Do you own all of your equipment?
  2. Do you have proper insurance? If you are interested in hire you should request insurance certificates once the contract is signed.
  3. Are all of the workers direct employees of the company? Is everyone on the company payroll?
  4. Do you have a bond allowing you to open the public sidewalks and roadways?
How many years in business?

This is one extremely revealing fact as the proof is in the pudding. If you have come across a company that you feel is trusted and has been in business for over 40 years there is a good chance that they are genuine and will continue to perform good work.

It is not to say that you cannot find a quality and reputable contractor that has been in business for 4 years. However, there are many plumbing contractors that change their name every few years after failing to operate certain aspects of their business per plumbing code or law. You may have found a company who has been in business for 2 years, the workers are extremely knowledgeable and are doing a great job for you.

The issue may be that they didn’t understand how to file their taxes as required by law and are now in a financial position where they cannot continue to operate. Another example would be if the owner did not understand how to file permits and after six months he finds out that his licensed is revoked.

The problem for the property owner is when they have an issue or a question about the new plumbing and the phone is no longer in service. For this reason it is suggested to hire a company that has been in business for an extended period of time as they are more likely to remain in business.

Guarantee on the work

It is important that all work is guaranteed by the plumber. Everyone understands that things happen and people make mistakes. The problem arises when someone makes a mistake and the company quickly responds with “we didn’t guarantee that work”. Forget about the fact if this is good business or not, legally the business is not required to resolve the error.

Another reason we find that a business may not guarantee their work is if they do not believe in their employees. There are a lot of people who are familiar with plumbing and may even be able to complete a few plumbing jobs with no issues. The real problem comes about when they encounter a more challenging job and attempt to fix the problem with their non professional resolution. It is often that this idea will fail requiring additional work. If you do not have a guarantee on this work it will require the property owner to hire another plumber at their expense.

Pricing

When renovating a home it is in everyone’s best interest to manage their budget and try to get the “best work” at the most cost effective price. The problem arises when a property owner is shopping for the cheapest price and this is all they are considering. It is possible to find a reputable plumber who also may work at the most cost effective price. The problem is that there are many plumbers who are way less expensive than the rest and there is a reason for it!

You should always take the time to analyze why one plumber is cheaper than the next.

  1. Are they using quality material? Or are they using a certain type of material just to save a few dollars?
  2. Do they have the proper insurance coverage or are they operating at a lower overhead than the other plumbers? The concern is the liability for the owner in the event of an accident
  3. Do they work on volume? Do they have 20 trucks as opposed to another plumber who has 2 trucks? The more trucks, the quick they can cover their overhead, resulting in a lower price for the property owner.
  4. Is the plumber purchasing his material in bulk which would result in a lower cost
  5. Do they own the building they operate out of? If yes, this would lower their overhead resulting in cheaper pricing.
  6. Do they own all of their equipment, trucks and backhoes?