To find a contractor that is good and reasonably priced may be difficult. Below you will find our recommendations that may help you to save money and trouble when hiring a contractor.
Plumbers usually do not give their customers money back guarantee, so if you are wondering what you can do and how to complain when you are not happy with your plumber go to our "Where to complain" page.
Step 1. Make a short list of contractors:
The first step to finding a plumber is to check our local page. Search our database and find a list of your local plumbers. Compare how many good and bad reviews we have for each of them. Pick several plumbers with the fewest bad reviews and write down their telephone numbers.
There are many internet and print resources that may be useful in making your short list of contractors: Google local, Yellow Pages, Angie's list, just to name a few.
Step 2. Check contractor license, reviews, and complaints (strongly recommended for big and expensive jobs).
Once youve made a short list of plumbers, make sure that they are licensed in your state.
Every state has different licensing regulations but most licensing department/boards will let you check if there were complaints against particular contractor.
Check with your State Attorney General Consumer protection office if they had complaints about that contractor.
You can find more information and links to your State contractor licensing department(s) and Attorney General here.
In many states the contractor himself should obtain all the necessary permits and inspections so the contractor will be responsible that the work meets all building codes. If you obtain the permits, you will be responsible and it may cost you.
Check if they are accredited with the Better Business Bureau and see their BBB records.
Step 3. Familiarize yourself with your project.
Before calling the plumber or contractor try to learn as much as possible about the job that you need him for. If you were able to find the cause of the problem visit your local hardware store. Ace Hardware is particularly good, since their staff is always available to help you. Tell a store associate about your problem and ask for advice. Find out what parts/tools are needed and how difficult the job is. You can save hundreds if you do the job yourself. Even if you find the jobs too difficult for you, write down prices for the replacement part(s).
Plumbers do not have MSRPs attached to their services and will charge you as much as they think you can pay. Therefore, try to find out how much others paid their plumbers for the same job. Check our contractor cost guide. Browse contractor reviews submitted to Joetheplumbernet (We specifically ask to indicate contractor fees and charges in the reviews). Ask your neighbors and coworkers. Search the Internet. (It may be difficult to find someone whos had the same problem and remembered how much they paid to fix it. Plumbers on the net most likely will tell you to call your local plumber).
Step 4. Contact several selected contractors.
Once you have all the possible information, get on the phone and call each plumber that you selected in step 1. When you call the plumbers be prepared to hear that they do not give estimates over the phone, since they need to see the problem first. Remember, that they usually charge $50-70 just to come and see the problem (service call charge). They will waive this charge (or rather incorporate it into your bill) if you hire them for the job. Even if you find their estimate unfair you would probably go with that plumber since you have to pay that $50-70 anyway. This is their way to push you into paying unreasonable prices.
If the plumber wont give you an estimate over the phone ask as many other questions as possible. Ask about their hourly rate, service call charge, and warranty. Know the retail price for the part (or parts) you need replaced and compare it with the plumbers estimate. This is a good way to understand how honest the guy on the other side of your phone line is. Write down all the information you were given and who you talked to. Even if you like the first guy you called, do not hire him before you talk to the others that you selected at step 1. You can always call him back.
For big and expensive projects most contractors will give you free estimate, so you can (and should) get estimates from three or even more contractors before hiring one for the job. But don't just assume that estimate is free - always ask.
Step 5. Contractor's visit to your house.
The plumber is at your house. Write down the time when he arrived and whether or not he was on time. Once the plumber has evaluated your project or problem and presented you with a final estimate compare it with the estimate you were given over the phone (if any) or ask him how he had arrived at his price. If the price seems too high - it frequently is ask for the itemized estimate. Compare it with the information you collected earlier (such as hourly charge, service call charge, prices for the replacement parts). If you see any discrepancies, ask about them and negotiate.
If the plumber finds that you need more repairs than in your initial over the phone estimate, try to understand how important and financially reasonable additional repairs are. Do not agree to pricy additional repairs before carefully evaluating all your options.
In steps 1 and 2 above you may find useful to use contractor review and referral websites, such as Angie's list, etc. However, even if you think that you found a great contractor on Angie's list don't hire him/her before completing steps 3-5 above.
Next page: Where to complain about a plumber