Why plumbers are so expensive?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Locked
Topic Author
goaapl
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:43 pm

Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by goaapl »

We have a slight leak at the water pressure regulator outside. Not too much, a drop every minute or so. I want to fix it before the problem becomes bigger. So I called a plumber and he said the regulator is really old and needs to be changed. Quote is $700 for parts and labor! I checked on home depot, the part costs less than $100. So the labor is $600 for less than an hour work. I watched youtube videos and it is not complicated at all. I am seriously thinking to do it by myself. But why do these people charge ridiculous amount? This is in Southern California.
rkhusky
Posts: 10531
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by rkhusky »

Supply and demand?

How many quotes did you get?
jminv
Posts: 1073
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by jminv »

Supply/demand, travel time, licensure, insured, and possible complications increasing time spent on fixed price job. Watch a tutorial video or find a handyman (Craigslist, angieslist, etc).

Sounds like you had him check the issue at your house since he said regulator was old and needed to be replaced? Any business that has someone that has to go out and quote jobs will be higher priced to pay for the estimator’s time. He might only get 10% of the jobs he quotes on but needs to be compensated for his time for the 90% he doesn’t too.

Now that you know what the problem is and know what needs to be done you can use that to secure lower quotes without the need for someone to come out.
Last edited by jminv on Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
anoop
Posts: 1846
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:33 am

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by anoop »

goaapl wrote: Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:03 pm We have a slight leak at the water pressure regulator outside. Not too much, a drop every minute or so. I want to fix it before the problem becomes bigger. So I called a plumber and he said the regulator is really old and needs to be changed. Quote is $700 for parts and labor! I checked on home depot, the part costs less than $100. So the labor is $600 for less than an hour work. I watched youtube videos and it is not complicated at all. I am seriously thinking to do it by myself. But why do these people charge ridiculous amount? This is in Southern California.
How did you find this one? Quotes can vary greatly. I had one guy quote me > $300 to fix a leaky faucet. A second guy fixed it, plus did some caulking work all for $90. He would have done even more if I had anything else that needed to be fixed since his company's rate was $90/hr and he was done with these 2 jobs in 1/2 hr.

I suggest you check with neighbors and friends for someone trustworthy.
Last edited by anoop on Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
john4546
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:10 am

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by john4546 »

Businesses have overhead to pay for I guess. Ask the plumber to describe his benefits package (health, disability, unemployment insurance, etc. - this also costs a lot money which are passed onto the customer).

There is also just greed - charging what they can get away with.
Glockenspiel
Posts: 1120
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by Glockenspiel »

I recommend getting more than one quote. If the plumber is plenty busy and not itching for work, he may have just increased his quote to increase his profit because he's not in need of the work.
Dilbydog
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by Dilbydog »

You need to remember that its not just an hours work. The plumber needs to go to the parts house, pick up the regulator, drive to your home, make the repair, and then go to his or her next call. Now I don’t live in So. Cal, but being in San Jose, I hear about how the Southern California traffic is worse than the Bay Area traffic. So conceiveably, all-in, your repair could take up 2,3,4 hours of the day. If I was going to potentially dedicate half of my day at one location for a small repair, I’m sure my rate would look outrageous also.

Or maybe their just gouging because they can or they don’t want to do the work. YMMV

I also agree with Rkhusky, get a few additional quotes.
User avatar
bottlecap
Posts: 6558
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:21 pm
Location: Tennessee

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by bottlecap »

Ask the plumber.
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 5292
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by lthenderson »

jminv wrote: Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:08 pm Supply/demand, travel time, licensure, insured, and possible complications increasing time spent on fixed price job.
+1

Also consider salaries for the secretary, fixed home base costs for storing all those parts, cost of a company truck, etc. If they priced every job like yours at parts cost plus say $50 per hour, they would never break even.
User avatar
sunnywindy
Posts: 453
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:42 pm
Location: Wilmington, NC

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by sunnywindy »

My example wouldn't apply to your particular situation (as it isn't dire), but it may reveal the thought process of some plumbers.

A plumber friend of mine would tell 'plumber stories' and they usually revolved around weekend work where frantic people would call him up and beg him to come fix whatever problem they had. Often times this involved the 'dirtier' side of plumbing that nobody wants to deal with or think about (very smelly, too). One weekend he fixed a person's problem and then billed them for the work. The person called him up freaked out about the large amount and his response was always, "How much would you charge to stick your hand in other people's s#%t?" That answer worked every time.
Powered by chocolate!
Topic Author
goaapl
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:43 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by goaapl »

I just got one quote from a licensed plumbing company. I contacted couple of handymen who worked at our home before, but they were not available. Even one of those (not licensed) charged me $175 to change the broken faucet in the backyard. Guess I need to buy tools and start doing these kind of repairs. I will get couple more quotes and if they are too much, I will go by the youtube videos and do it myself.
WhiteMaxima
Posts: 2186
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:04 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by WhiteMaxima »

Learn basic and be your own plumber.
fishmonger
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:20 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by fishmonger »

A lot of small jobs in the trades guys will overbid because they don't need the work, and may have mostly larger projects to worry about. So in this case he may have been thinking "I don't have time for this." If you turn him down he'll be fine as he didn't have the time anyway. If you accept, he figures he'll make a high margin on a small job.

Also like previous posters said, there's a lot of overhead you have to factor in. Especially in a highly taxed, highly regulated state like CA
Always passive
Posts: 694
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:25 am
Location: Israel

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by Always passive »

goaapl wrote: Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:03 pm We have a slight leak at the water pressure regulator outside. Not too much, a drop every minute or so. I want to fix it before the problem becomes bigger. So I called a plumber and he said the regulator is really old and needs to be changed. Quote is $700 for parts and labor! I checked on home depot, the part costs less than $100. So the labor is $600 for less than an hour work. I watched youtube videos and it is not complicated at all. I am seriously thinking to do it by myself. But why do these people charge ridiculous amount? This is in Southern California.
Try to be one. It is very hard work!
User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 8090
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

Also if you have other things to do it's often worth getting them all done at the same time. That way you only pay one call out fee / set of travel costs.

So it's worth having a look around for dripping faucets etc.
User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 67193
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Why plumbers are so expensive?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread has run its course and is locked (rant). See: Personal Consumer Issues
General comments or complaints about these topics will be locked or removed.

Note that this subforum has a much lower threshold for locking or removing posts than the financial and investing subforums. In general, controversial, offensive, pointless, divisive or mean-spirited posts or topics may be locked, edited or deleted (with or without notice) at the discretion of the moderating staff even if they do not otherwise violate forum policies.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
Locked