When did plumbers start to believe that domestic jobs were below them?

I am raging a bit as I have just come back home from a days travel and work at my 80 year old mother who lives on her own about 87 miles from me. She messaged me last Sunday pleading for me to come down (I had already made plans when I saw the message) and when I called her she was having trouble with 2 taps in her bathroom which had been dripping badly when turned off for about 3 weeks. She hadn't told me before as she is loathe to ask (if anyone has aged parents they will know). She didn't know who to contact locally and was also loathe to ask local friends. She had eventually been advised to contact Age Concern by another of her similar aged friends and when she contacted age concern they just gave her some numbers of plumbers to call. One quoted her £200 and said the taps will need replacing, another told her its £100 per hour for his work alone.
I'm not raging as ended up doing the job I was intending to go down this month anyway (she didn't know when) and am always happy to do jobs when I go down (I did at least 2 other jobs today), but that vulnerable people can be taken for a ride and it must commonly happen.
Dripping taps are almost always the washers and the 2 replacement rubber washers cost me 50p each and would probably have taken a plumber 30 minutes.
I would like to put my thumb on the throats of these heartless people and before anyone tries to tell me any justification, I wont accept it, there isn't one. Maybe these guys have been working for the queen previously. Is it just plumbers or does it extend to other trades too? I just know I am in the wrong trade.
 

Rebecca Riot

Well-known Member
Check out an organisation called Care and Repair who will do small repairs and adaptations for anyone over 60.

They put in hand rails on the stairs and around the loo for my mum and they were very reasonable on price.
 

jurassicmark

Well-known Member
I would take this up with Age Concern. I don't know if they've just done a search for plumbers or if they have contacts for some "trusted" plumbers but if they're giving numbers for plumbers who are apparently exploiting customers then that will unlikely be corrected until they get reports of that happening.

Plumbers (are other tradesmen) exploiting customers is nothing new and that's why there are websites like the one below. I used to get annoyed watching the Watchdog TV show where they hid video/audio equipment to observe dodgy tradesmen in action. I can understand that annoyance being much greater when the target is someone close to you but at least your mother didn't lose out financially.

 

Ilovewaffles

Well-known Member
Check out an organisation called Care and Repair who will do small repairs and adaptations for anyone over 60.

They put in hand rails on the stairs and around the loo for my mum and they were very reasonable on price.
I looked at my local one,it says Labour is free but the householder must supply materials. Could the workman obtain the materials and the the householder pay, as it might be hard for someone to get the right materials, or not know where to get them?
 

ufo550

Distinguished Member
You won't like this, but trades people are not a charity.

Whilst £100 an hour is high, a plumbing company will charge my work place £60 an hour on day rate, callout is £90 first hour, and £150 at weekends. This would depend on geographical areas. Sole traders will charge less. We have a window & door company, who charge a fee to come & quote for work.

When I was trading, I would charge £30 minimum, up to one hour, then £25 per subsequent hours. I wasn't charging enough, and I had to close my business down. I had service & fuel costs on my van, telephone, PL insurance, tool costs, GA scheme (£550 per annum), accountancy fees (£600-800). I was a sole trader, and didn't have apprentices or admin staff to pay. It got so bad towards the end, I couldn't pay myself a monthly salary.

There was one elderly couple I did work for, I hardly charged them anything the first time, and they had me back several times. It didn't feel right to alter my prices for them, so lesson learnt there.

Some customers, no offence meant, want work carried out for very small amounts of money. To run a business, this is just not viable. If you think your elderly mother was taken advantage of, you should make a complaint with trading standards.
 

Belzok

Distinguished Member
This is one of the few Facebook is actually quite good for, pop up a post on the local page asking for for a plumber in your area and I would hope it would be fixed on the way home from their big jobs, if it is just washers and cost far less than £50.

Obviously if it's more work than that then it's a different story.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Whilst distressing for her I’m not sure what there is to rage about. You seem to say these trades were asked to do an emergency job. That means a high rate. It’s not just the hour, or part of, that’s to be paid for.
 

Nexus04

Active Member
It is hard to put perspective on this as if it was a simple washer change its one thing but it could have been a much more complicated job. For example when the bath tap in my house had a similar problem the bath panel had to be removed the plumber needed a specialist tool( a telescopic Basin spanner) so while these tools are not expensive most diy`ers will not have one in their toolbox. Then because the taps are fairly modern they needed ceramic cartidges not just a pair of 50p washers. These in their selves were hard to source and relatively expensive to get the correct size and make. Then reinstate the bath panel make good the decor/silicone sealent etc it was not a 5 minute job. So unless you can give the plumber some kind of heads up to whats involved before they even come out its hard to put a price on a job. I`m with ufo550 on the face of it it looks greedy but when taken into account all the overheads a tradesman has its not so bad. I know a plumber who will not work in central london for less than £500 a day which to most people would seem excessive but when you take into account the commute into London, the congestion charge, parking fees, which can be up to £50 per day its easier to put into perspective. So the hourly rate for what is essentially a 12 hour day when you take into account the time from leaving the house to the time you get home is not so high and that is before you take off all the expenses.
Check out Pimlico Plumbers rates and you will see a good example of plumbers rates in Londonhttps://www.pimlicoplumbers.com/rates
I must just add that I am very lucky that one of my neighbours used have his own plumbing business and he put me onto an old fellow who is semi retired but does odd jobs to supplement his income. He is good and reliable and very cheap for jobs like the the OP posted. Luckily this time the OP could fix it for his mum and all it cost really was the anguish that it caused him before he could get to his mums and fix the problem.
 
It is hard to put perspective on this as if it was a simple washer change its one thing but it could have been a much more complicated job. For example when the bath tap in my house had a similar problem the bath panel had to be removed the plumber needed a specialist tool( a telescopic Basin spanner) so while these tools are not expensive most diy`ers will not have one in their toolbox.

If they have quoted a price of £200 and advised the taps need replacing, when they come to the job they will do the job they have quoted for. I mean they wont just change the washers, they will make sure the job is a much as they can make or have quoted by changing the taps. There is a difference between quoting for the worst case scenario (and you will make it the worst case scenario unless you are in a hurry to get somewhere else) and saying this is my (reasonable) hourly rate and advising on the job that needs doing when you have viewed it. An hourly rate of £100 per hour is ridiculous, and I am speaking as someone who used to be a qualified plasterer. Your only going to be able to quote those fees if there is a shortage of competition.
 
I recently was quoted around £40 an hour labour at a garage to repair my car, is someone trying to tell me the mechanic is a much inferior job to the plumber?
 

jjwales

Well-known Member
Whilst distressing for her I’m not sure what there is to rage about. You seem to say these trades were asked to do an emergency job. That means a high rate. It’s not just the hour, or part of, that’s to be paid for.
This is what the poster was raging about: "One quoted her £200 and said the taps will need replacing, another told her its £100 per hour for his work alone."

They didn't say it was requested as an emergency job, and surely an hourly rate is meant to cover the overheads as well.
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Compared to what the consultants to the government are paid a hundred quid an hour is an absolute steal. :)
 

vm1451

Active Member
That article is laughable, (as is Checkatrade imho). And for clarity, I am a qualified plumber, that concentrates mainly on bathroom fitting. Also for clarity, my line of work is carried out entirely in the domestic sector.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
They didn't say it was requested as an emergency job, and surely an hourly rate is meant to cover the overheads as well.

They did in as much as it needed doing now not when convenient in the job book.
Yes it does. What I meant was the hour doing this is not an hour on the job. It’s travel to and from and fetching any parts too.
 

andy1249

Distinguished Member
Dripping taps are almost always the washers and the 2 replacement rubber washers cost me 50p each and would probably have taken a plumber 30 minutes.
It is jaw-dropping how most of the general public expect qualified and competent tradespeople to travel to your home wherever that may be and work for less than minimum wage !!!

You should expect a minimum of a fixed call out charge and 4x min wage for each hour or part thereof, plus parts cost , and they are not in the business of passing on parts at cost , profit must be made , otherwise why bother ?
Regardless of the task , expect 100 plus per visit.

If you only want to pay peanuts , get a relative or some amateur DIY'er to do it.
 

vm1451

Active Member
I have neither the crayons or the time, (or the will), to explain. Others are doing that very well though so I'm out. I will just say though that the OP really has no grasp on reality and is pulling figures out of the air, (or in this particular case, the t'interweb).

Bye.
 
I have neither the crayons or the time, (or the will), to explain. Others are doing that very well though so I'm out. I will just say though that the OP really has no grasp on reality and is pulling figures out of the air, (or in this particular case, the t'interweb).

Bye.
Bye
 

stiv674

Distinguished Member
From experience, £100/hour is the exception rather than the norm (apart from London maybe) most plumbers I know locally are between £35 and £40 per hour, electricians a bit less than that.
 

Maxatoria

Active Member
It really depends on what's required as at 30 an hour is going to put off most people who just have a dripping tap on its own but when there's a new loo and shower the cost of an extra washer and the 5 mins will become miniscule since you will be on site for a good few hours anyway and doing it as a 'freebie' will distract from the overall cost.
 

Cevolution

Banned
My old man was a carpenter/builder all his working life, he always did high quality work which is why he was well sort after (he earned great money, however he should’ve been charging a higher hourly rate than what he was, and he knows it)… He never had to advertise, all his clients lived in the wealthiest Sydney suburbs, he always had plenty of work, it was all word of mouth. He retired when he was 58 in 2013, because he was diagnosed with prostate cancer… The operation didn’t remove an extremely small percentage of the cancer, and unfortunately after 2 years of failed treatment, it spread to his lungs, and then became inoperable. He is still alive, he’s had cancer in his body for 9 years now, and is still going strong… You wouldn’t know it if you looked at him, his healthy lifestyle and high level of fitness without a doubt have helped him survive it this long, an unhealthy overweight or obese person likely would not have made it.

Anyway… I remember my dad telling me a story a couple of years ago, where he had done a job for a guy, and after the work was done, this guy called up my dad to complain and query a $100 charge on the invoice, he felt he had been overcharged… My old man didn’t start work at the premises until 7:30am, however, he said to the client, “you didn’t see me at the hardware store at 6am selecting the best quality timber out for you did you?”. Dad said that he couldn’t be bothered with people like that, the guy called him numerous times to do some more work, but dad never accepted another job from him after that. Some people are just cheap…
 
Last edited:

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
It is jaw-dropping how most of the general public expect qualified and competent tradespeople to travel to your home wherever that may be and work for less than minimum wage !!!

You should expect a minimum of a fixed call out charge and 4x min wage for each hour or part thereof, plus parts cost , and they are not in the business of passing on parts at cost , profit must be made , otherwise why bother ?
Regardless of the task , expect 100 plus per visit.

If you only want to pay peanuts , get a relative or some amateur DIY'er to do it.
Agree, most have no idea what costs are involved.

I don’t think £100 to get a plumber out is bad at all.

The plumber has a van, that doesn’t come free, he has tools, they weren’t free. He has to travel from wherever he is to your house, that doesn’t come free especially with the cost of fuel these days. Then he needs a wage.

I’d like some people to buy a van, tools, fuel and offer their services at the rate some on this thread think is reasonable and see if they can make a living out of it.

Whilst I feel for the op, you have to pay for skilled tradesman.
 

vm1451

'I have neither the crayons or the time, (or the will), to explain. Others are doing that very well though so I'm out. I will just say though that the OP really has no grasp on reality and is pulling figures out of the air, (or in this particular case, the t'interweb).'

I'm with you vm ... I've been Self Employed for 40+ years and there are 'clients' out there who expect too much for too little.

To the OP: You have discovered a business opportunity where you can undercut these overcharging tradesmen and have a healthy profit for yourself after employing others to do the work. Go for it. No? Maybe it's not that easy.
 

leo79

Well-known Member
I think you've just been unlucky. I know quite a few plumbers and none of them charge £100ph.
Although most of them would also advise to just swap the taps as it takes the same amount of time and it's a better fix, plus they don't get a phone call 3 months later complaining that the taps leaking again.
 

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