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Property Owner Guides :: How To Hire a Plumber for Home Renovation Projects

Let's say the word right now: plumber! For most people, the very word evokes visions of midnight toilet overflows. Have no fear. Here the plumber is your friend.

While you can probably install your own toilet, the plumber will help with more difficult projects like carving out a sparkling new bathroom out of your old, scary bathroom; or adding a shower on the kids' floor; or will running lines in your new kitchen. Difficulty: Easy Time Required: 2 hours Here's How: Get Names Talk to neighbors who have had remodeling or new construction work done recently and get names. Keep in mind that you are hiring a plumber for remodeling or construction, not for repair. Those quickie-plumber trucks you see all over town specialize in emergency repairs. What you want is a plumber who will come prepared on an assigned date and perform solid work, following a pre-determined estimate, in order to assist you in your kitchen or bathroom renovation.

Check State Licensing Check your state's licensing website to see if a plumber is licensing and has any pending or resolved complaints. Not all states license plumbers, but this is a good place to start your search. Remember, if a plumber is licensed, that doesn't necessarily mean they're a great plumber. It just means they have satisfied the minimum requirements to remain licensed. Word-of-mouth is a much better indicator of a plumber's value.

Crystallize Your Plumbing Plan Pin down your plumbing plan before calling plumbers. The plan does not need to be refined down to types and sizes of pipe and fittings; the plumber will do that. But you do need to know what you want the final result to be. Most plumbers arrive ready to work. If he works for himself, spent talking with you is downtime that cuts into his revenues. If he works for a company, he still needs to be accountable for time spent doing something other than billing for work. While you can expect good advice from the plumber, do not expect him to sit down at the table with you and draw out plans. Make Cheat Sheet for Your Calls

Hourly rates? Rates for non-plumbing tasks (such as opening up a wall)?

Is the customer charged while plumber waits for on-site delivery of parts?

Are they bonded and have worker's compensation and liabiity insurance?

Will they obtain a permit for you? Unlikely, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Assuming your project is not a rush, can you negotiate a more advantageous deal by employing the plumber at one of his slow times?

Make Calls Call and ask for the manager. Be patient. They likely deal with contractors and may not get many calls directly from homeowners. Admitting they you'd like some of their expertise can disarm them, though.

Obtain Permit Assuming that the plumber is not obtaining the permit for you, now is the time to apply for it.

Buy Your Own Fixtures You probably be buying your own fixtures, toilets, sinks, and the like.

Prepare Job Site You don't want your expensive plumber to waste valuable time opening up walls, clearing crawlspaces, lighting dark basements. Even if you think they should do this, do this for them. It's your house, after all.

Remain on Job Site During Work Don't hover. Instead, remain out of sight but within calling distance for questions from the plumber. You want to encourage questions. You will get a much better work product if you do.

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