Ideally, all homeowners should build relationships with plumbing contractors before anything goes wrong — after all, sewer problems sometimes need to be fixed immediately, leaving little time for comparison shopping. But whether you’re planning ahead in case you need water and sewer services in the future or you’re frantically searching for someone to stop whatever is spewing from your pipes at this very moment, here are the five questions you should ask any plumbing contractor you’re considering hiring:
- Are You Licensed?
All plumbers should be licensed in the state where they work. You can double-check a plumber’s credentials with the state licensing body. This might also be a good time to ask about guarantees on work quality.
- Are You Bonded and Insured?
A bond ensures that you’re protected in case the plumber you hire fails to complete the work. If your project is estimated at $500 or above, this should be non-negotiable. You should also ensure your contractor carries insurance and worker’s comp so you’re not liable if someone is hurt during the project.
- How Do You Bill?
Some plumbing contractors bill hourly (labor plus parts), while others charge a flat fee. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but you need to know what to expect when getting quotes from various companies. You should also make sure that the plumber won’t do unauthorized work and then bill you for a bunch of extra hours.
- Will You Be Doing the Work?
Larger companies often employ multiple plumbers, and the person who gives you an estimate may not actually do the work. This is generally to your advantage, since it means that there’s more likely to be someone available without a wait. But it’s a good idea to meet the people who will actually be in and out of your house to ensure you’re comfortable with them.
- Is Cleanup Included?
You don’t want to be left with a giant mess when the problem is solved and the workers leave, especially if you’re dealing with sewer problems. Don’t assume that cleanup is included unless it’s explicitly listed on the contract. Sometimes, you’ll need to pay an extra fee for cleanup — and often, honestly, it’s worth paying a bit more for this service.
Do you have any tips on choosing the best plumbing contractors for various types of plumbing services? Share your expertise in the comments below.