Plumbing Zone - Professional Plumbers Forum banner
1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going into service plumbing. This requires being able to accurately estimate how long a specific plumbing repair will take. I purchased a book on amazon for over a hundred bucks and it was pure garbage. It seems everything I can find on you tube is about estimating with cad drawing software on new construction, which doesn't help me.
I'm wondering if someone can point me in some direction
What if someone wants to put a bathroom in their basement. How would I estimate how many hours this will take?

How are faucet repairs commonly billed, when it often takes a trip to the plumbing supply house? It seems like this would be 30 minutes if you had the cartridge in your truck but would be 2-3 hours if you have to do a round trip to the supply house and the phone time with the customer service rep etc. It seems cheaper to just give the customer a new faucet that you have on your truck instead of going to the supply house. How are trips to the supply house usually charged?
How does that initial conversation go with the customer when estimating a new job like replacing a toilet? How do you protect yourself against unforeseen work yet still attempt to give the customer as accurate an estimate as possible like when replacing a toilet could easily lead to repair or replacement of the flange which could add a few hours to the job?
 

·
philosopher and statesmen
Joined
·
8,326 Posts
I am going into service plumbing. This requires being able to accurately estimate how long a specific plumbing repair will take. I purchased a book on amazon for over a hundred bucks and it was pure garbage. It seems everything I can find on you tube is about estimating with cad drawing software on new construction, which doesn't help me.
I'm wondering if someone can point me in some direction
What if someone wants to put a bathroom in their basement. How would I estimate how many hours this will take?

How are faucet repairs commonly billed, when it often takes a trip to the plumbing supply house? It seems like this would be 30 minutes if you had the cartridge in your truck but would be 2-3 hours if you have to do a round trip to the supply house and the phone time with the customer service rep etc. It seems cheaper to just give the customer a new faucet that you have on your truck instead of going to the supply house. How are trips to the supply house usually charged?
How does that initial conversation go with the customer when estimating a new job like replacing a toilet? How do you protect yourself against unforeseen work yet still attempt to give the customer as accurate an estimate as possible like when replacing a toilet could easily lead to repair or replacement of the flange which could add a few hours to the job?

This takes years of trial and experiance.... You really cant estimate a basement rough inn by the number of hours its gonna take
you just have to throw a good stiff number at them to where you think you will come out with a decent profit...
and its wise to have a disclaimer in case things do go south on you...

I reset a toilet with new parts for $250-300 but I also mention that if the flange is broken its gonna be more money
involved depending on what is involved in making it right..... if they whine about this then you really dont want the job
in the first place..

Customers dont like the trip charges to the supply house ,,,,, I have a millionaire right now whineing about me going to get
a new gas control for a 75 gallon power vent water heater.. across town .. I charged her less than when someone came out and
worked on my clothes dryer and took him only 20 minutes....and they still whine....

some jobs go real good, and some jobs dont

its best to have a very good stock in your truck...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,806 Posts
When you have to put a number on something you have never done before, it's best to assume you will under estimate the work. I call the result "tuition". To be successful, you have to learn from your mistakes.
I've been estimating since the late 70's and I'm pretty sure I was better at it by my second year than I am now. That said, take my advice with a grain of salt.
 

·
Reverend, R.S.E., Master Plumber
Nice Head, what’s in the bag?
Joined
·
2,298 Posts
I do Flat rate for all service calls, installations etc. with a warning about unseen problems costing extra (like a broken w/c flange).
Keep a well stocked truck, you don’t want to be hitting a supplier every job or even everyday(if it’s out of your way).
Have your clients text you pics of their toilets/faucets etc. that way you know what you’re up against and what parts you’ll need.
Only with time and experience will you learn what to charge for each job and what you need to keep stocked on your truck.
With flat rate you’ll win some and you’ll loose some, but in time youll figure out how to win more often then not.

For rough-ins, it’s per fixture- $xxx/fixture up to 5’ of pipe, cut-ins to main drains or stacks count as 1 fixture.
for stacks, vents, main drains, etc it’s $xxx/foot

i have an old price sheet if I can find it I’ll post it.
 

·
I Like Tater Tots
Plumber since 1979. 42 years and still rollin'
Joined
·
1,228 Posts
Post an example page of your price book. Ignoring the prices in there there might still be some valuable information in there right under your nose.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MACPLUMB777

·
Registered
Lift Station Whisperer
Joined
·
405 Posts
Like the others said, getting it wrong is a great teacher, if a bit harsh at times. A general rule of thumb at our company is take the time that you think you'll need and multiply by 1.5, take the material cost you think you'll need and mark up by 20-30%. You also need to know what your overhead is. (vehicle costs, office/storage space, insurance, licensing, etc) Lastly, you need to know how much you need to make to be profitable. There's a lot of factors that go into estimates.

Haven't read your intro in awhile, but I presume you have several years worth of experience if you're going out on your own. What kind of work did you do? If you've only done new construction until this point, I'd try to work in service for at least a year to learn the ropes.

The bit about the book being worthless confuses me. How do you determine the value of something if you don't have a starting point, ie some experience pricing out work? Otherwise it sounds like straight guessing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,194 Posts
When you have to put a number on something you have never done before, it's best to assume you will under estimate the work. I call the result "tuition". To be successful, you have to learn from your mistakes.
I've been estimating since the late 70's and I'm pretty sure I was better at it by my second year than I am now. That said, take my advice with a grain of salt.
My old boss told me what his father told him. Everyone gets an education, that education is expensive, and someone is going to pay for it, either your boss, the customer, or yourself.
 

·
philosopher and statesmen
Joined
·
8,326 Posts
Post an example page of your price book. Ignoring the prices in there there might still be some valuable information in there right under your nose.
[/QU
I would love to see a flat rate book just to get an understanding or idea how others charge as much as they do
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
210 Posts
I am going into service plumbing. This requires being able to accurately estimate how long a specific plumbing repair will take. I purchased a book on amazon for over a hundred bucks and it was pure garbage. It seems everything I can find on you tube is about estimating with cad drawing software on new construction, which doesn't help me.
I'm wondering if someone can point me in some direction
What if someone wants to put a bathroom in their basement. How would I estimate how many hours this will take?

How are faucet repairs commonly billed, when it often takes a trip to the plumbing supply house? It seems like this would be 30 minutes if you had the cartridge in your truck but would be 2-3 hours if you have to do a round trip to the supply house and the phone time with the customer service rep etc. It seems cheaper to just give the customer a new faucet that you have on your truck instead of going to the supply house. How are trips to the supply house usually charged?
How does that initial conversation go with the customer when estimating a new job like replacing a toilet? How do you protect yourself against unforeseen work yet still attempt to give the customer as accurate an estimate as possible like when replacing a toilet could easily lead to repair or replacement of the flange which could add a few hours to the job?
If I am going to quote a job for replacing a toilet when I am talking to the customer I let them know as many things that can be unforeseen as I can. Examples would be flange is damaged, flange is too high or too low. If they provide the toilet it could be the wrong rough etc. I find that if they are aware of anything that could cost them anything additional before I tell them I will have to perform more work they can prepare themselves for it. And if the job is problem free it makes me look good and the customer feels good too.

On an invoice I’ll write it as “Replace customer supplied toilet starting at $$$$ whatever price you agree to. And I’ll put a couple extra things like if I need to replace the flange, or angle valve potentially.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,194 Posts
That's fantastic! Going on my wall!
Here's aother good one, I can't recall where I first heard it;

Train them well enough that they could go out on their own, treat them well enough that they don't want to.
 

·
philosopher and statesmen
Joined
·
8,326 Posts
Here's aother good one, I can't recall where I first heard it;

Train them well enough that they could go out on their own, treat them well enough that they don't want to.

NO WAY... Sure You can train them but
You are not gonna make them happy no matter how well you treat them....
even if you pay them more than you are making per year it wont keep them happy
You can give them full medical insurance, 3 weeks paid vacation,,, new truck to drive.... it dont matter....

Treat them good, but remember that the time comes when most will burn their bridges with you
and they will go out on their own to show you how to run a business better than you ...
yes sir.... they a re gonna show you.....

So you just got to let treat them well as you can but remember they are basically all temps..
They will someday leave the nest , so just learn to sit back in your lounge chair with an ice cold beer
and watch them crash and burn and go down in flames. in a few short months.... :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :cool:

You know that you got to learn to enjoy the little things...
when you hear word about their trials and failures that cold beer taste just a little sweeter....:cool:🤠
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I purchased a flat rate book off of Amazon called https://www.amazon.com/Plumbing-Upfront-Pricing-ExactCharge-Industries/dp/1641362901
The reason I call the flat rate book basically worthless is because first off it had barely any plumbing jobs in it. The main thing I'm interested in is how long jobs take on average and there was no information on how long they take. If I just knew that one thing I could easily plug my own per hour rate. The book also did not say anything on how much the materials were. For example the book was set up like so: there was a section called "Faucet installed" under it a category called single handle bath faucet (good quality all metal) -"your upfront price" .294.83
Kitchen faucet single handle (good quality all metal) - $$$
with sprayer- $$$
So I guess it's better than nothing, but not really since "good quality" kitchen faucets is very subjective. I don't know what they paid for materials.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,161 Posts
NO WAY... Sure You can train them but
You cant make them happy no matter how well you treat them....
even if you pay them more than you are making per year it wont keep them happy
You can give them full medical insurance, 3 weeks paid vacation,,, new truck to drive.... it dont matter....

Treat them good, but remember that the time comes when they will burn their bridges with you
and they will go out on their own to show you what a complete dumb ass you are....
yes sir.... they a re gonna show you..... That is called gratitude.....

So you just got to let them leave the nest and then sit back in your lounge chair with an ice cold beer
and watch them crash and burn and go down in flames. in a few months.... :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :cool:

You know that you got to learn to enjoy the little things...
when you hear about their trials and failures that cold beer taste just a little sweeter....:cool:🤠

All of my plumbers have been there/done that. All have come back to work for me. Starting your own business is tough, a lot of times it doesn't work out.
 

·
philosopher and statesmen
Joined
·
8,326 Posts
I purchased a flat rate book off of Amazon called Plumbing Upfront Pricing: ExactCharge Industries Inc.: 9781641362900: Amazon.com: Books
The reason I call the flat rate book basically worthless is because first off it had barely any plumbing jobs in it. The main thing I'm interested in is how long jobs take on average and there was no information on how long they take. If I just knew that one thing I could easily plug my own per hour rate. The book also did not say anything on how much the materials were. For example the book was set up like so: there was a section called "Faucet installed" under it a category called single handle bath faucet (good quality all metal) -"your upfront price" .294.83
Kitchen faucet single handle (good quality all metal) - $$$
with sprayer- $$$
So I guess it's better than nothing, but not really since "good quality" kitchen faucets is very subjective. I don't know what they paid for materials.
you ever try to just charge say 150 an hour plus materials and see what happens....

this debate has been beaten to death all over this site for years and years...
 

·
philosopher and statesmen
Joined
·
8,326 Posts
All of my plumbers have been there/done that. All have come back to work for me. Starting your own business is tough, a lot of times it doesn't work out.
I edited that last post of mine...
We have had a few come back for a while....
it seems as long as you dont drug test them they will hang around but eventually they
seem to get bored and move on.....to what they think are greener pastures


I just dont have the patience any longer to find work and bid jobs to keep them busy .....
 

·
Registered
Master Plumber
Joined
·
56 Posts
It all comes down to what your overhead is, what profit you want too see out of a job, what you want to pay yourself. In my opinion flate rate works really well for shops with many plumbers, vans and big overhead. I usually charge an hourly rate plus material. Though I can also throw out to customers a flate rate price if they want to know the price up front, which is usually padded in my favor. 30 years ago the price to rough plumb a new house in my area was figured at $1k a fixture. Included ground work and everything above slab to the roof. Today that same house can be as low as $400 a fixture. That was the price prior to material going through the roof. I can't do it for that, especially now. Whatever you end up doing, don't leave money on the table. Set your hourly rate, and markup your material based on what you need to make to cover your bills. Tools and equipment also get a percentage of that. Once you build a customer base it will be your reputation of quality workmanship, promptness and customer rapport that will get you more work. Get your licenses in order and good luck.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top