Plumbing Services: Are Flat Rates or Hourly Rates Best?

A local homeowner recently called us and said that he needed a plumber to complete a few tasks in his bathroom. He wanted us to install a high-end toilet that sits flat against the wall. To accomplish this, we would have to remove part of the baseboard heat register and relocate the water pipe.

The caller went on to say that he wanted a plumber to help him install a preassembled shower from Orchard Supply Hardware. This task would require us to disconnect the shower valve and stub out the water lines. Nonetheless, he assured me that the job would be easy to accomplish. He also stated that we could finish it rather quickly.
I provided the homeowner with an estimate and explained that the cost would vary depending on the number of hours it takes to complete his tasks. However, he refused to pay by the hour and demanded a flat rate. I responded by telling him that it’s unrealistic to charge a flat fee; every job is different.

A wide range of complications can surface when we perform any plumbing task, so it’s difficult to predict how long a job will take. The caller was not persuaded by this explanation; he insisted on paying a flat fee. I relented and supplied him with a fixed quote for the entire job. It was almost twice as high as the original estimate.

Predictably, the caller wasn’t happy with my new quote. I explained that we needed to charge him for the maximum amount of time and materials that we might need to complete the job. Flat-fee plumbers make the same calculation; no one wants to charge a small fee and discover that the repairs take much longer than expected.

The homeowner remained unconvinced, so we were unable to agree on a price. I told him that he was welcome to contact us again if he wanted to reconsider. It’s understandable that some customers want to know exactly how much a service will cost. Nonetheless, they fail to realize that flat-fee contractors need to charge significantly higher rates.
This holds true in most industries. An unlimited statewide calling plan is more expensive than a few toll calls. Many restaurant meals cost less than the all-you-can-eat buffet. However, the cost difference is far greater in this line of work. Every home has different equipment, fixtures and water line configurations.

Here at Charlie’s Plumbing, we believe that an hourly rate provides the most equitable option for homeowners and plumbers. Customers needn’t pay us for the maximum number of hours that we might need to accomplish their tasks. Unlike flat-fee plumbers, we don’t have an incentive to finish as quickly as possible by cutting corners and ignoring details.

The bottom line is that almost every plumbing job costs less when customers pay by the hour. There’s no reason for everyone to accept higher rates because a few plumbing tasks are extremely difficult. Our many satisfied customers know that they can count on Charlie’s Plumbing to bill them fairly and spend the right amount of time on every job.

Call us 24 hours of the day, seven days of the week in Monterey. No matter what your unique needs, Charlie’s Plumbing & Heating can help. Request a free quote today. 831-442-5750

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