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How much does a plumber charge in the UK?

Updated on July 10, 2011

If you have ever come home to find a leak then you'll be familiar with asking exactly how much does a plumber charge? For as long as you can remember, plumbers have had a bit of a reputation haven't they? The huge array of consumer and property programmes on television have shown you to be very wary when it comes to dealing them. The cowboys that will 'bodge' the job and the rip off merchants that may fix the problem but take an age and charge you a small fortune!

Well if you read on, you'll hopefully learn a bit about exactly what to expect from your plumber, both in terms of service and importantly what it will cost. We will give you examples of typical jobs and what they cost along with a few tips for finding a good plumber that you can trust.Fundamentally we are going to answer your question "how much does a plumber charge!"

How do we know what a plumber will charge?

 If you have read any of our other articles then you will know that we have a strong relationship with our own plumbers here in the West Midlands. For previous articles about finding a reputable bathroom fitter and applying for apprenticeships we were able to get the inside story from the owner and plumber behind Morgan Plumbing Services.

To write this article, our plumber was happy to give us a quick interview to help us understand plumbing charges. We asked them about typical rates, call-out charges, customer service and their views on just what constitutes a 'Cowboy' and how they can be avoided. Certainly these answers aren't definitive, but should provide a guide to those concerned about the cost of having a plumber.

 

Plumbers charges - an overview

Most people are aware that there are two options when it comes to finding a plumber. Go with a national franchise or find a local independent plumber;

A national franchise.

The Pros. A national Franchise will have a call centre that will guarantee your call is always answered, they should have a good number of employees to ensure you get quick service and if you have any problems you know there will someone to complain to. The prices should also be transparent and explained to you in advance.

The Cons. National companies do have franchisees that cover areas but also use a lot of sub-contractors that work on a job to job basis, meaning you may not get the same plumber twice. The larger the company, the larger the overheads. This is normally reflected in the price you pay, with a really quite low percentage going to the plumber himself.

The Local Plumber

The Pros. A local plumber should offer a more personalised service. There is more incentive for a small independent company to look after their customers. The local plumber may have lower overheads relatively so can charge a more competitive rate. Also you'll know who you are getting and repeat visits, if needed, will have continuity.

The Cons. Local plumbers are unlikely to have a staffed office so you may be at the mercy of when they start work (when the phone gets turned on). Making complaints can be difficult without a formal structure to the company.

How much does a plumber charge in the UK?

Our case study, Morgan Plumbing Services supplied us with the following prices;

Leaks repaired £35 per hour

Electric Showers replaced £65

Garden taps installed from £55

Dripping taps fixed £35

Bathroom suite replacements from £250

Full bathroom refurbishments supplied, fitted and tiled from £1995

Our case studies thoughts.

"On a daily basis we hear comments saying we are anything from surprisingly cheap to ridiculously expensive. We know from experience that we are very competitively priced. We review our prices almost monthly and regularly investigate our competitors prices. It would probably help for us to show just how we calculate or price structure. All our smaller jobs are based on £35 per hour and a discount built in for multiple hours, half days, days and even weeks. Bear in mind that allowing for travel between jobs it is rare to be able to fit in more than 4 x 1hour jobs in a normal day."

"A professional plumber will have significant overheads. Running a van, insurance (for van and his work) advertising, fuel, qualifications and replacement of tools all have to be paid for before your plumber can take any wage. To keep a plumber out on the road costs us approximately £60 a day all things considered. Based on £35 per hour and 4 jobs a day our actual wage is £80 per day. To us that seems very fair."

Plumber costs - have your vote!

Is £35 an hour fair?

See results

Is this an accurate reflection of what a plumber costs?

This all seems surprisingly fair, but is it typical? A few phone calls from a google search and yellow pages revealed hourly rates from £30 to £70. Judging the validity of these prices is all rather subjective. If I got in from work found a burst pipe and it was fixed for £35 then I'd be very pleased. If however I wanted a new tap fitting and the plumber stayed for 65mins and charge me £140 for two hours id quickly form a very different opinion.

It isn't all one way though. Our case study was able to provide us with many examples of bad customers. Ones that had them in to do work knowing they had no ability to make payment, customers who book in work, then fail to turn up themselves. In one shocking case a customer booked in a bathroom refurbishment for a two week period and then didn't even answer the door on the first day despite clearly being at home. Unfortunately as with any business, the good customers foot the bill for those that don't act fairly.

So how much does a plumber charge?

If you live in the UK and particularly the West Midlands then £35-£45 an hour seems fair. (bare in mind that prices rise out of hours). The real point of this article though is to help you get past the concern and often fear that can come with inviting a tradesman into your home. All to often we hear prices and immediately compare them to our own experiences of hourly wages and assume plumbers are scammers or cowboys. Undoubtedly there are tradesman out there that are verging on criminal with their actions but fortunately they arent the majority.

In fact to put it into context, Morgan Plumbing Services was featured on a BBC show called Moneywatch last year where it was revealed that the salary of their plumber was under half what most thought was a fair and deserved wage, given the nature of work and hours that he often worked.

Hopefully this has proven to be an interesting and informative look at plumber costs in the UK. If you have any comments then please feel free to leave them below.

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