Essential tips to help you choose a plumber

Find a plumber near me

1. Research plumbers

This may seems obvious, but a survey conducted with general plumbers in Halesowen, Dudley, threw up some interesting results. The objective of the survey was to discover how plumbers found work in the area

when plumbers were asked by customers to quote for work, plumbers on average said 40% of the enquiries they received, were in locations which were outside their catchment area. Would consider any travel viable geography for them providing it made financial and logistical sense. Typically when asked why they received such a high number of these types of requests, the first response was the fact that general plumbers also worked as emergency plumbers on call, or supported letting agency contracts.

2. What is important for customers when choosing a plumber

Many of these outside area requests, were in response to customers needing 'emergency' plumbers, in an area, If a customer had an emergency and they could not get a plumber locally, due to availability of local plumbers or local plumbers being overbooked. Being responsive within 24 hours to an emergency, is considered hugely important to customers, and customers purchase insurance policies that allow them access to this kind of response in emergency plumbers, in an emergency such as burst pipe, broken boiler, or a domestic plumbing issues that causes distress are catalysts for need for customers to actively initiate a policy of insurance that enables responsive plumbers to at least provide and interim fix, until a permanent fix can be implemented.

3. Emergency plumbers near you

Plumbers have been contracted and/or are retained by insurance underwriters to respond to policy holders requests for emergency repairs to pipes, leaks, lack of water, or some other plumbing related emergency, like flooding or frozen piping. Other clause covered by the policy could include geography covered, hours the policy can be initiated, and certain qualifications or criteria for contracting to the underwriter

4. What does an emergency plumber want to consider when being retained by an underwriter

- They need to consider

- How far they are willing to travel to support an emergency callout

- For general plumbers, acting in an emergency capacity, the value of the job they do

- How much they are paid, or the earning potential vs. the time and effort required

- The hours, days and times they would want to work in an emergency capacity

- How has Covid affected how and where they work, vaccinations, face masks, PCR tests etc

- Are they contactable by the client, or policy holder

- Insurances, warranties and other documentations, and their validity can be demonstrated

- Association with trade bodies who can verify the work that you are demonstrably able to carry out

- Qualifications and certification and their validity

- Apprentices and employees who might attend the jobs, their training level and insurances to cover them

- Do market conditions or regulation, favor emergency response work

5. What is a general plumber

In every industry there are always going to be concerns about choosing a tradesman and this includes the plumbing industry. After all, they are working on something that requires a certain level of expertise and know how. Imagine having a burst pipe, (once you turn off the main water valve), a plumber needs to be able to provide you with running water, for cleaning, heating, and potentially consumption. These are essential dependencies and if the plumber can't fix the problem, it can have a more profound impact, on other dependent activities such as getting ready for work, caring for the young, or heating the property, to name a few examples.

The more complex the problem, the more reliant we are on a plumber fixing the issue right way, first time round. The good news is, to some extent you can be reassured 'general' plumbers are actually very skilled engineers who bring with them a very broad engineering skillset which includes, technical, theory and experience in various home plumbing application designs, or water systems, or machines such as boilers and water tanks.

Although their main responsibility can be described as maintaining water supply, water distribution, cooling, heating and sanitization, which they do through the installing, maintaining, replacing, converting and repairing of piping, fixings and white metal units. Their work and expertise in maintaining plumbing infrastructure is essential for both domestic, commercial and public health. It should be noted that this scope includes sanitization.

Plumbers like most skilled trades, can work across various industries, businesses and homes, their services are invaluable to the economy and the breadth and depth of work varies from servicing, repairing, building or fitting. They can be expected to work on drainage systems, water supplies to associated appliances or water dispensing unit. They can even be expected to work on air conditioning and ventilation systems, as well as be expected to cut, join and bend pipes and fittings, this means Like many skilled trades plumbing offers a range of opportunities in work and lifestyle choice for general plumbers in the trade.

6. The skilled and certified plumber

A good plumber will be both accredited and trained, by either a guild, as well as have some practical on the job experience. Certifications are also a pre-requisite for an approved plumber and these can be acquired through exams. Being accredited is important as it not only shows both a commitment to performing a job, but also, being evaluated through work associated with that job by peer professionals. Having been proven to have a demonstrable level of competency in the work in essential for the industry as a whole, as standards do matter. The biggest concentration of plumbers is in London, and as is unsurprising most of the guilds in the UK are based in London.

7. Finding a good plumber

Word of mouth

Traditionally word of month is the most common method by which many general plumbers traditionally find work and grow their business. Word of mouth now extends to social media platforms and forums where people are able to actively recommend general plumbers in areas. The emergence of mobile applications, can amplify the word of mouth messaging that supports how plumbers both network and find work.

Power of social media

The power of social media cannot be underestimated, in the search for plumbing services, but equally the capability for plumbers to digitally manage their businesses, in terms of quotes, notes, invoices, cash-flow, revenue etc. Web based platforms like billntrade.com are fast becoming popular as the go-to place for customers to connect with general or emergency plumbers in their local area. billntrade.com as a digital platform enables customers to quickly send an RFQ to a plumber or the market place, which enables a wide range of plumbers to see the RFQ and respond to it. Having the capability to quickly place and RFQ and receive interest in a short space of time, reduces the time spent in a distressed situation as well as the responsiveness required by customers.

Digital broker platforms

At billntrade.com rapid access to range of general plumbers or emergency plumbers, is an essential part of the information structure and workflow, supported by a simplification of the communication process between customers and plumbers. It is recommended that general plumbers have an online social media presence as well as use solutions like billntrade.com to manage the quoting, lead management and invoicing, for work, in the most effective way for them and their businesses. Finally, advertising in local papers, or on bulletin boards in strategic locations can be another way, but this can be expensive and is much harder to guarantee work or track and measure if the return on investment is justified, unlike platforms like billntrade.com which offer reach, engagement and measurable ROI, to compliment search engine marketing campaigns, which can be measured in terms of returns and costs.

8. Credentials are everything

This is an important step which customer should undertake, particularly if they are considering hiring a general plumber for the first time. Reputable plumbers will belong to an affiliated trade body, responsible for maintaining standards in the trade, technical competency, customer service and government collaboration. These bodies are:

- The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE)

- The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)

- Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employer’s Federation (SNIPEF)

- FairTrades Plumber’s Association

- CORGI (Council of Registered Gas Installers)

- The Gas Safe Register

9. Invitation to quote

It is also best to check references, with any referral, you can check the profile of general plumbers and verify their business credentials, also when you submit a no obligation Request for Quote (RFQ) to a general plumber, they can contact you via an expression of interest in a quote. The best bit about billntrade.com system, is your details are kept private, until you decide to formally submit an acceptance of quote, from your selected plumber. It is important to consider that before you contact the plumber, You are prepared with exploration questions, in order to verify they are really the right plumber you want to carry out the work. A good example of questions you can ask are given below.

- Where are they located (search e.g. find a plumber in London)

- How long have they been trading

- Which one of the trade bodies do they belong to

- Have they done the type of work you are looking for before

- Are they insured

- Can they show you examples of their work

10. Insurance

This is one of the most important topics to address when looking for a plumber, it is important that they have insurance cover, their policy should be valid and in-date. This is to ensure that you can trust that if anything were to go wrong they have liability cover and a solution can be found through the insurers.

11. How to become a plumber

2020 has seen a lot of people seeking new challenges, wanting to leave their jobs to pursue a challenge that allows them a better life balance, as well as discover new opportunities. So, what if you want to make a career of plumbing. Before you become an emergency plumber, or 24 hour plumber, there are a number of ways that you can become a general plumber and assuming you have the required qualifications and the experience, you can apply directly for a role with a reputed plumbing business. The process will usually include an interview, a review of your qualifications and a practical assessment.

12. The Apprentice route

It is possible to undertake an intermediate and advanced apprenticeship in plumbing. This can take up to 5 years to complete and you will need at least an English and Math’s GCSE, to be able to apply. Most plumbers operate in metropolitan areas or cities, like you would find more plumbers in London, than you would in the Wirral

For an intermediate apprenticeship, you will need 5 GCSEs grades (A* to C) or the equivalent, including English and Math’s.

To be able to apply for an advanced apprenticeship, you also need to be 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays, Living in England, Not in full-time education, Apprenticeships are ideal because they represent a mix of practical training on the job, with study.

Apprentices work alongside experienced and skilled plumbers, to gain specific skills and experience they need. You will earn a wage and receive holiday pay as well as get one day a week, which is dedicated to studying towards your plumbing qualifications.

Professional plumbing qualifications:

I. Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing and Housing

II. Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating (QCF)

III. Awarded by City and Guilds of London institute

Most of the above courses can be handled online and the student can set their own pace

13. Routes to plumbing for people looking for a change

People with no previous experience in plumbing, who are looking for a change in career and want to become a qualified plumber with recognized qualifications, will be required to complete three different types of training.

I. Practical (within a training center)

II. Theory within a class based environment

III. Home study

These courses will take you from being a novice to being a fully qualified plumber, and more importantly, will cover you for the following qualification

- City and Guilds level 2 or level 3 Diploma (6035) in plumbing studies and & BPEC water supply (water fittings) regulations 1999[/justify]

Within the profession, you will also be awarded with and gain an NVQ level 3 diplomas, this is a hybrid structure of hands on knowledge transfer through theory and practical skills for your chosen trade. The practical aspects complement the knowledge gained from home learning and the course also helps you to become confident, safe and competent in the areas of plumbing in which the course covers. There is an option on completion of the course to progress to an NVQ. This cannot be achieved at a training and assessment center, but by conducting on-site placement work.

With these few tips, you should be able to navigate finding a plumber in a well organized and safe way, understand the route to plumbing and also be able to consider what you would require as a plumber or someone hiring a plumber.


About the Author

Tom Cakebread
Hi, I'm Tom I enjoy writing about the trades, and supporting tradespeople and customers where I can as an independent consultant.