Specialist Trades

Plumbers undertake the installation of domestic internal hot and cold water pipe work, sanitary fittings and any related waste pipe work systems. They can also take on other home improvement and repair projects such as central heating installation, works related to all other gas fired appliances, but this may also involve other trades such as pipe fitters, gas fitters etc…

If you are reading this, chances are you are looking for a plumber or repair a pipe, a fitting or a fixture related to water disposal or waste water disposal.

Plumbing is technically demanding, so working with a local plumber who understands your needs is important. More than in other specialist trades, plumbing often involves quick problem identification so working with a quality recommended plumber who has experience can prove invaluable.

Whether it is a pipe repair in London or a bathroom toilet installation in Manchester, follow our simple tips below and you are on your way to finding a qualified plumber who has the right plumbing skills you need, and at the right plumbing rates too.

So, how do you go about finding and choosing your local plumber in London, or pipe fitter in Birmingham?

Finding plumbers

There are many ways to find a list of local plumbers – some easier than others.

  • You could use search engines to get a list of local plumbers. The risk here is that you have no real knowledge of how good a plumber they are or what skills they really possess and it can be time consuming calling numerous tradesmen, having to leave messages asking them to call you.
  • Another option is to use the yellow pages but again you have the same issues as using a search engine.
  • A recommendation – this is arguably a better option than using a search engine or yellow pages but you are unlikely to have more than one recommendation which makes comparisons difficult.
  • An easy, hassle free way of identifying local skilled plumbers is to use the service of a site such as www.xpertfind.com. xpertfind.com has a database of skilled plumbing experts along with ratings and feedback provided by customers like yourself. You simply post details of your job on the site and wait for suitably skilled, local plumbers interested in your work to contact you. It is a quick and easy way for customers to find local tradesmen for a whole range of jobs and the website has national coverage. So whether you are looking for emergency sink repair in London, a new shower installation in Devon or simply some drainage pipe replacement in Liverpool, you can post your plumbing job online and let xpertfind.com do the hard work of finding 3 local quality plumbers who can provide you with quotes. Who you go with is your decision.

Once you have got 3 suitably skilled, local plumbers how to do you choose between them?

Ask for references

When hiring a quality plumber, whether they are a drainage expert or a shower installation specialist, don't be shy in asking for references on their work. You could even take the time to call these people and ask how the work went for them. It may even be wise to go and see the work that has been done. Seeing with your own eyes what the tradesman has accomplished is the best way to know what you are paying for.

Compare your quotes

Plumbing repair and installation prices can vary a lot and often depends on the material and supplies that are being used, so be sure you are getting a good range of quotes. If the job is a significant one such as a major installation or a change in your water heating system, ask the plumber to break out prices for material, bonding, labour etc... ask for details of material used especially the fittings used. Fittings are used in pipe and plumbing systems to connect straightpipe or tubingsections, to adapt to different sizes or shapes, and to regulatefluid flow, for example. Fittings, especially noncommon types, can be expensive, and require time, materials, and tools to install, so they are a non-trivial part of piping and plumbing systems.

Make sure you have a detailed quote from each of the plumbers you have identified and compare estimates on the cost of the project and see how they differ. The written quotation should list materials, labour and VAT (if appropriate). Ask them in person why things cost the way they do and why they charge what they charge to do the job. If the recommended or rated plumber is honest, he or she will be open about the costs of materials and the profit they are trying to make.

It is fairly standard for the local plumber to ask for a deposit to cover the cost of the materials. However this should not be a large portion of the total quote (under 20%) and you should not be expected to pay the balance until the plumbing work has been completed to your satisfaction.

Time to complete the job and where it will be completed

Be clear on how long will it take the plumber to complete the job. Some tasks such as shower or toiler installations or changing and fitting new pipes to your drainage system or solving a complex backflow problem will naturally take longer, whereas others such as changing faucets or repairing an external leak will be a lot simpler. Finding a plumber who can work efficiently and quickly is beneficial - they will cost less because the hours will be less. Even if the cost per hour is more, if they have the third of the hours of another, it will most likely be less money in the end.

Prior experience

It's all to do with experience! Ask what experience they have. Also, ask if they could bring a portfolio of photos with them so you can see the type of work they do. One sure way of assessing whether a plumber is experienced is if he takes the trouble to come and look at the job to be done and advises you before giving a quotation.

Are they licensed or registered?

Years of training and/or experience are needed to become a skilled plumber; some jurisdictions also require that plumbers be licensed. Plumbing codes are strict, and need for quality plumbing work is high because of the health and safety problems associated with poor water supply and sewage removal. There are a wide array of formal qualifications that demonstrate knowledge and experience in the field – such as Plumbing Mechanical Engineering certificate, S/NVQ 2 (6089) or S/NVQ Level 3 (6089) and Water Regulations Certificate. Several practitioners are also listed with CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, www.ciphe.org.uk)

Oil fired heating appliance installation, servicing and maintenance works must be undertaken only by OFTEC (www.oftec.org) registered individuals and companies in order to operate in the UK.

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