How To Negotiate With Plumbers: 8 Proven Tips

plumber lg

Can you negotiate with plumbers? Yes, you can. However, you need to understand what affects their prices and the strategies they use to set them. There is a balance between negotiating to save money and paying your plumber a decent amount for their professional services.

When negotiating with plumbers, you can do the following:

  • Get multiple quotes
  • Use cost breakdown to save money
  • Promise referrals
  • Put in sweat equity
  • Buy the materials
  • Ask for extras
  • Postpone work to the off-peak season
  • Bundle your projects for bigger discounts

Since plumbing services can be pretty costly, you should always negotiate. The worst that can happen is your preferred plumber will say no. But the chances are that you will get a better deal of some kind.

This article discusses why plumbers charge so much and ways you can get a better deal for yourself.

Why Do Plumbers Charge So Much?

Usually, a plumber will charge you anywhere from $45 to $200 per hour. So, a typical job can cost $175 to $450, which is not cheap.

Plumbers charge so much because they undergo a lot of training, which costs money. I know most master plumbers have invested thousands of dollars over seven to ten years before they become licensed professionals. So, they must pass on the costs of acquiring those skills to their clients.

It’s also worth noting that plumbers are in huge demand. The average American homeowner, who engages in home improvements, spends $4,958 each year. And plumbing is one of the most popular services homeowners tend to request.

How to Negotiate With Plumbers

Negotiating with plumbers is an art form. You have to learn how to do it well so that you can save money. Below are some tips you could implement during the negotiation process.

1.   Get Multiple Quotes

It’s a good idea to get multiple quotes from your plumbers concerning the services you want them to provide. If you had no idea of how much you were expected to pay, getting quotes gives you a better idea of your budget. And if you have done your research and set a budget, letting plumbers name their price may end up costing you less than stating what you are willing to pay.

You should also let all the plumbers you ask bids from know that others will be doing the same. That forces them to compete for your business, which means they are more likely to give lower estimates than if they had no competition. And even if some give higher bids, others will provide lower estimates for the same work, thus saving you money.

2.   Use Cost Breakdown To Save Money

It helps if you ask for the cost breakdown from the plumbers giving quotes. Let every professional tell you what materials you will need, how much those materials and labor will cost, and how much time it will take to complete your plumbing project.

A cost breakdown can also help you value engineer the overall cost of work. You can ask your shortlisted plumbers what you could do to reduce the individual cost of the things they have listed in their price breakdown. The goal is to get excellent plumbing services while lowering the cost of labor and materials where possible.

For example, suppose a plumber suggests copper pipes for installing plumbing for your home because you wanted the best materials possible. But these pipes cost an average of $3 to $8 per linear foot.

The professional lets you know that PEX tubing will cost you much less and still do the same job well. And you will only have to pay $0.40 to $0.50 per linear foot. That’s value engineering in action, and it will save you thousands of dollars during the plumbing installation.

3.   Promise Referrals

Did you know that 82% of small businesses consider referrals as their top source of new businesses? So, use that knowledge to negotiate for lower prices.

Let your plumbers know that your friend, colleague, or neighbor is looking for a plumber too. And if you are happy with their prices and services, you will be willing to recommend them. If your plumbing contractors understand the importance of referrals, they may be willing to give you a discount in exchange for an additional customer.

4.   Put In Sweat Equity

A significant portion of the plumbing costs could be based on labor. So, if you want to save money, you could offer to put in some sweat equity. That means you would put in the effort and time to help your plumber fix your plumbing issues in exchange for lower charges. So, your plumber will get free assistance from you, and you get to keep more money in your pocket. Alternatively, you could offer to do some of the work later on.

5.   Buy The Materials

When you ask for a cost breakdown, your plumber will give you separate charges for materials and labor. Once you value engineer your costs, you could try and shop around. Your goal is to find the materials you need for a lower price than what your plumber quoted from his regular suppliers.

If you can buy the plumbing supplies, you need cheaper. You can negotiate to pay for service and labor costs only. You could also recycle some of your plumbing fixtures or buy them from garage sales. If you can cut down on the costs of purchasing materials, then you can save a lot of money.

6.   Ask For Extras

Don’t be ashamed to negotiate for extra plumbing services at no cost. But it would be best if you were reasonable concerning the extras you ask for.

You are more likely to convince the plumber to offer extra services at no charge if you ask for things that take little time or minimal materials to fix. These may include simple plumbing jobs, such as unclogging drains, fixing leaky faucets, caulking bathtubs, showers, etc.

7.   Postpone Work Until Off-Peak Season

The demand for plumbers is lower during the off-peak season than in peak seasons when everyone wants to fix their plumbing issues.

So, slow winter months mean less work and more plumbers competing for the existing jobs. And that puts you in a position of strength when negotiating for lower costs of plumbing services.

Therefore, you can postpone plumbing projects until the off-peak seasons if no plumbing emergency occurs. You will likely get very reasonable bids from reputable plumbers who want to keep the money flowing.

8.   Bundle Your Projects For Bigger Discounts

If you have a big plumbing project that needs doing over a long period, you can bundle your projects when asking for discounts. When asking for bids, let plumbers give you the estimates for the work you need to be done quickly and the entire project. Let them know that you intend to hire one professional for the job and ask for their best offers.

By bundling your projects, you can negotiate for more significant discounts. Few plumbers will want to lose a big client by refusing to haggle if you promise a larger project soon.

Final Thoughts

There is no shame in negotiating with plumbers. And always ensure you have a contract that safeguards your financial interests. In that contract, you should outline what happens if a plumber doesn’t fix the problem. Try to include a repair guarantee or an agreement to get a refund if a professional does a shoddy job. You can also have a contract that enables you to save some money if the work ends up taking less time and money than the plumber estimated.

The language of a contract is essential. So, ensure you are specific in what you are paying for and what would enable you to get some of your money back. Of course, you also have to fulfill your end of the bargain and pay the plumbers what you owe. In the end, negotiation is always about creating a win-win situation for all parties concerned.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.