I hate calling a plumber for help. I realize that most are probably honest professionals, but I also know that a few might try dodgy tricks to overcharge. So just placing the phone call makes me uncomfortable.
It’s one of those things: The only way to feel good about it is to first learn what tricks you may run into, how to spot those tricks and how to find good plumbers and get value for your money.
1. Working unlicensed and uninsured
Unlicensed and uninsured tradespeople usually charge less. But you’re taking a big risk hiring them.
Most cities require homeowners to use licensed and insured contractors, even when you don’t need a permit. One exception: Do-it-yourselfers often may do construction on their own homes. “But they must use licensed professionals for structural, electrical and plumbing work,” MSN Real Estate says.
With unlicensed tradespeople, there’s nowhere to turn if the work is poorly done. A building inspector can require you to tear out the job and do it again. Banks won’t lend money on homes with work done illegally.
Still not convinced? Here’s what the Magnolia Voice, a neighborhood newspaper in Seattle, says:
Of the major trades, only two are required by law for the individual to be licensed: electricians and plumbers, according to (plumber Evan) Conklin. Why? Because shoddy work by [either] of these two trades can kill you. Think about an improperly vented hot water tank powered by natural gas. In no time you have a home filled with deadly fumes.
Hiring a plumber? Ask to see identification, a state license and proof of current insurance. To check licensing and insurance credentials, call your state’s licensing department and state insurance commissioner.
“A contractor also needs two kinds of insurance: liability, to compensate you if the work fails, and workers’ compensation insurance, in case someone is injured on the job,” MSN Real Estate says.