You would hope that finding a good plumber would be as simple as rifling through a directory and looking for an available professional in the local area. But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Just because a plumber is qualified, licensed, and insured, doesn’t necessarily mean they provide a high-quality service. As in other professions, there’s a range of abilities. Some plumbers are excellent at what they do. Others aren’t.
So what are the rules for finding a good plumber? How can you make sure you find a professional who is going to look after your home and business?
Choose Qualified Plumbers Only
Very few unqualified people advertise plumbing services, but it does still happen. Handymen, for instance, might offer help with simple plumbing problems, tempting you with knock-down prices.
If you want a good plumber, though, you need to make sure that they have the necessary qualifications.
Three trade associations cover plumbers in the UK.
The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is an organisation with more than 12,000 members. It sets specific standards that members must attain if they are to work long-term in the industry.
The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) is another organisation that works with government bodies to ensure that members meet specific standards. It currently represents around 1,500 businesses, encompassing more than 60,000 specialist engineers.
Finally, the Gas Safe Register is a list of professionals in the UK qualified to work legally and safely on gas appliances. Only people on this register are allowed to work on devices that use gas, like boilers.
Members of these organisations must meet minimum standards, but membership alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get an excellent service. It pays to look beyond mere affiliations and find out a little more about the plumber you want to hire.
Local Plumbers Versus Plumbers From National Companies
When it comes to hiring a plumber, you generally have two options. Either you can hire a local plumber. Or you can go to a national plumbing company and ask them to send one of their people to you.
Why A National Plumbing Company Might Be Better
National plumbing companies might be better for several reasons:
- Professional guarantees: Small-time plumbers are usually just sole traders, going from site to site, fixing problems. When there’s an issue with the service, it is their discretion whether they fix it or not. National companies, however, tend to have professional guarantees backing up their work. Typically, they offer better dispute resolution services and dedicated customer support.
- Lower risk: Big plumbing brands usually have thorough vetting services to ensure that they only hire the best people. They also make sure that the staff keep their professional qualifications active.
- Faster service: Finally, national plumbing companies may offer speedier service because they have resources. If you have a plumbing emergency, they can send spare engineers to you from their pool of available people.
Why Local Plumber Might Be Better
Local plumbers might be the better choice for several reasons.
- Better pricing: National companies tend to charge generic prices for their services to keep things simple. A call-out, for instance, has a fixed fee, and you’re liable to pay it whenever you request their assistance. Local plumbers, however, may offer more flexible pricing, based on the actual work they carry out. If it is just a small job, they’ll often charge you a low price, instead of hitting you with a standard bill.
- Attention to detail: Local plumbers rely on word-of-mouth marketing and their personal reputation. Thus, they tend to have excellent attention to detail. They want to make sure that they avoid bad reviews which could tarnish their personal brand. The same incentives may not apply to engineers from national plumbing companies.
- Supports the local economy: Finally, you may want to hire a local plumber to support your town or city.
Sometimes, though, you’re not interested in the nuances of whether you should get a local plumber versus one from a national brand. You just want the person who can provide service fastest.
How Much Should A Good Plumber Cost?
The amount you pay for a plumber varies depending on where you live, with the highest prices in the southeast and London.
Typically, you’ll pay £45 on the call-out fee, and then somewhere between £35 and £100 per hour of work, again depending on your location.
Plumbers will usually charge more for emergency work if it falls outside of standard trading hours.
There are no standardised charges in the industry, so what you pay depends on market forces. Paying a premium could ensure a higher quality service, but there is no guarantee that it will.