All plumbers aren’t created equal or work the same way. In the plumbing industry, you can find two basic kinds of plumbers:
- Plumbers who charge you by the hour for the work they do
- Plumbers who work for a flat fee
Georg Efird, a seasoned plumbing contractor with 25 years’ experience — including 15 with Blue Planet Plumbing — has done both kinds of plumbing during his career. He knows the pros and cons for each of these two models. This blog post examines the risks of hiring plumbers who charge a flat fee. With the right plumber, either model can offer advantages, but in general, with a flat-rate plumber, the risk is on the plumber, not on you. Here are the reasons…
The Flat-Rate Plumber Model
The cost structure for flat-fee plumbers is inherently different from hourly plumbers. A flat-fee plumber generally charges a service fee — ranging from $29 to $129, depending on the region in which you live — to come to your home to review your job. That fee is often refundable if you hire him to do the job.
When a flat-rate plumber gives you an estimate for the work, he sticks to that agreed-on amount. When a flat-fee plumber gives you a price, all tasks and all the involved costs are revealed upfront. You get a guarantee that he won’t change your price after work begins. For example, if the water shut-off valve breaks off in his hand because it hasn’t been touched in 25 years, he replaces it — and it’s still covered in the quoted price.
Characteristics of a Flat-Fee Plumber
Unlike an hourly plumber who marks up materials as much as 150 percent, the flat-rate plumber marks up his materials from 50 to 100 percent, but that’s included in the price he quotes you before he even begins work. Flat-fee plumbers are completely up-front about the costs to you.
You usually don’t have to worry about getting flattened by a flat-rate plumber. He likely has 10 to 25 years of experience in residential, commercial and industrial plumbing. He likely paid his dues as a new construction plumber long before becoming a service plumber. He services almost all makes, models and brands of plumbing fixtures. He has to if he wants to be successful.
Customer Service Oriented
You may find that your flat-fee or service plumber keeps a tight schedule — generally, a one-hour window — because his time is valuable, and he knows yours is too. He’s very conscious of customer service. He answers his phone 24 hours a day and is almost never late. He’s driven by an efficient work ethic because if a job takes him longer than he estimated, he makes less money.
Charging by the job promotes extreme efficiency, so you’ll very likely find him driving a fully-stocked $40,000 supply house on wheels to your home. Since time is of the essence, he has to stock all the necessary materials to make a timely repair at your home. For example, if he has to leave to get a part, he doesn’t get paid for this time and you don’t have to pay for it, either. You don’t pay one penny more than what was quoted at the beginning. Ever.
The Risks of Flat-Rate Plumbers
There are risks with asking a flat-fee plumber about your project. Since these plumbers charge a nominal fee for coming out to give you an estimate, you have to pay them for their time and their quote, even if you don’t hire them. It adds an expense to your quest when you’re price-shopping for a deal.
In addition, flat-rate plumbers generally give you a higher estimate than hourly plumbers — sometimes, two or three times more. But keep in mind that an hourly plumber often low-balls his estimate to get in the door. These estimates rarely mean anything, since you pay by the hour, whether the plumber finishes in 10 minutes or 10 hours. So, you pay a premium for the flat-fee plumber, but you get piece of mind, knowing that the price cannot change.
The Added Value of Flat-Fee Plumbers
Finally, most flat-fee companies give you something extra to validate their work and the higher price. Some offer 100 percent satisfaction, meaning if you aren’t satisfied with the work, you either don’t have to pay or they refund your money and do the job for free. Other companies offer longer warranties for their work, such as three or five years.
The law states you must receive no less than a one-year warranty from your plumber for his work. You may find an hourly plumber trying to give you a six-month warranty (or less) on his work. The flat-fee service plumbers at Blue Planet Plumbing offer a standard three-year warranty on all of their work.
In the end, you risk either getting stuck with an hourly-rate plumber who ends up costing you more for the job or paying a flat-fee plumber for an estimate you believe too high. In this scenario, you’ll end up paying a lot more to the hourly plumber. Of course, the best answer is to find an Asheville plumber you can trust to the job as quickly and as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing quality for price. When you hire the experts at Blue Planet Plumbing, you know it’s worth every penny.
The Asheville plumbers from Blue Planet Plumbing offer knowledgeable advice so you can make an informed decision. They recommend the most up-to-date, cost-effective and environmentally conscious plumbing available. Call Blue Planet Plumbing at 828-423-6289 for all your plumbing needs.