How Plumbers Estimate the Cost of a Job

Sometimes, the way that plumbers price their projects can be a bit puzzling. You want to know exactly  what you are paying for to ensure that you are getting a good value on the service you’re receiving. There are a host of factors that contribute to the overall cost of a plumbing job. You should be aware of what these factors are so that when you receive your estimate, you can feel more confident that you’re paying what the job – and the time taken to finish it – is worth.

What do Plumbers Take into Consideration?

Each job requires different treatment to get the job done in a timely and effective fashion. A plumber will usually have to physically see the problem to diagnose it and offer an estimate. Estimates given over the phone, sight unseen, can be very inaccurate. When a plumber makes a diagnostic visit to the plumbing that’s in need of service, there are numerous things that they must consider when drawing up your estimate.

Their Hourly Rate

Plumbers often charge their customers for their time, in an expense commonly referred to as “the cost of labor.” This amount can vary wildly from area to area, with the average hourly rate of a plumber in the United States being anywhere between $45 and $150 per hour. Some companies and independent plumbers may charge a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. Make sure to know what this basic charge is before you agree to work with a plumber.

This hourly rate may also include the time that it takes for the plumber to get out to you. Their driving time does not contribute to the cost of overhead, so the cost is passed along to consumers.

Material Costs

Any independent plumber or plumbing company will charge a markup on the materials that they have to use to complete the job. In most cases, plumbers count on receiving a profit that’s influenced by both their hourly rate as well as the cost of the materials sold.

Overhead

A lot of different things fall into the category of “overhead.” For plumbing professionals, this includes (but may not necessarily be limited to):

  • Clerical work
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Rent or mortgage of the building
  • Fuel for transportation
  • Tools
  • Other necessary equipment
  • Salaries of executive employees

It stands to reason that a company with more overhead may need to charge more for their services in order to turn a profit. Smaller companies with fewer employees, owners that don’t take a salary but instead work as a plumber for their company, and those who rent or buy a cheaper space may be able to pass along their savings to their customers.

Even though this may seem like a lot to charge customers for, bear in mind that many plumbers only yield about 3% net profit on average. The owner of a company is responsible for pricing the jobs in a way that is as reasonably affordable as possible, while still turning a profit instead of breaking even.

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