When your pipes and plumbing systems are in need of repairs or replacement, you have to enlist the services of a plumbing contractor. Plumbing problems require the expertise of a plumbing professional for excellent results. It may be tempting to save money by doing the job yourself over a weekend. However, only certified plumbers have the necessary knowledge and expertise to solve some of the more complex plumbing issues.
That said, getting work done in your home can be nerve-wracking. It is normal to think twice about letting a complete stranger in your home to do some installation or repairs. After all, your home is most likely your most significant investment and you don’t want a plumber to do a hack job on your pipes or worse, cause water damage in your home that leads to additional expenses.
But before hiring a contractor, it is important to clarify some things with the plumber to ensure a smooth project. Here are five questions you need to ask a plumbing contractor before signing the contract.
1. Are you licensed?
This is the first and most important question you need to ask a plumbing contractor. If you forget to ask if a plumber is licensed, be ready to expect surprises when the project ends.
Plumbing is a regulated profession. The government requires plumbing contractors to have the necessary skills and qualifications to practice the profession. A license is a good indication of the expertise of the contractor.
Don’t just take the word of a plumbing contractor about their license either. While most plumbers are professionals, there may be a few who operate without a license. So it really doesn’t hurt to ask this question.
2. Do you have insurance?
As with all construction and home improvement projects, there is a risk of injury for both the plumber and a third party. Having insurance will protect you from potential issues should an accident happen while the contractor is working on your plumbing project.
Ask if the plumbing contractor you want to hire has workers’ comp insurance and general liability insurance. In case an accident happens to the contractor, the worker’s comp insurance will ensure that you will not be held liable for their medical expenses. In case your property is damaged, the general liability insurance will protect you in case your or another party’s property is damaged. Liability insurance is almost always required in all states, as it also protects the contractor from claims against their work.
3. Can I see your references?
You need to ask your potential plumber to provide a list of people they have worked for in the past. You need to contact these people and ask a few questions about the reliability of the plumber’s work.
Here are some questions that you can ask these previous clients:
- Was the job finished on time?
- Were you satisfied with the work?
- Were there mistakes?
- If there were mistakes, were they corrected?
- Do you recommend the plumber to others?
If the plumber refuses to give you a list of references, it is a huge red flag and you should rethink hiring them. In addition, you can also check online reviews about the contractor to see what their previous clients are saying about their services.
4. How much will it cost?
A lot of professional plumbing contractors will give free estimates to customers. They will need to check the job site and give you a list of materials and their costs, as well as the labor fee. Having these laid out early on will reduce the possibility of hidden fees that appear when the job is done.
5. How do you want to be paid?
Payment issues are always a headache to deal with so it is important to settle the terms early on in the project. Always ask how the plumbing contractor expects to be paid as well as the total cost they want to be paid upfront.
There are several ways you can structure the payment terms. You can pay based on time, where you need to pay a portion of the cost after a number of weeks. You can also pay based on milestones, where you need to pay once a specific part of the work is completed. Choose a payment structure that works for both you and the contractor.
Looking for professional plumbing contractors can be a daunting task. But by asking these five questions, you can be sure that you are partnering with a plumber who knows what they are doing.
About the Author:
Aki Merced is the Content Manager at Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.