10 Essential tips to help you choose a plumber

1. Find a plumber near you
This may seem, obvious, but a survey conducted with general plumbers in Halesowen, Dudley, threw up some interesting results. They found that when general plumbers were asked by customers to quote for work, on average 40% of the enquiries they received, were in locations which were outside the area the general plumbers would consider a travel viable geography for them. Typically when asked why they received such a high number of these types of requests, the first response die to the fact that general plumbers also worked as emergency plumbers on call, and many of these outside area requests, were in response to customers needing emergency plumbers in an area, where they could not get a plumber locally. Being responsive within 24 hours to an emergency, is considered hugely important to customers, and whilst customers with insurance policies that allowed them to access emergency plumbers, these plumbers were also contracted by policy underwriters to respond to policy holders requests for emergency repairs to pipes, leaks, lack of water, and any other clause covered by the policy. Whilst travelling further afield was not always ideal, the value of the job more than justified the inconvenience. Plumbers are an emergency response to a plumbing issue and have to compensated for the responsive nature of their business, in the event they need to be called out to make emergency repairs. On the other side, plumbing work that was scheduled, tended to be about 98% local to the trade, meaning customer would find a plumber locally for planned work, as compared to work required in an emergency, whereby, they would be prepared to look further afield. What is not clear is if emergency response plumbing jobs, tended to be favored by plumbers as a response to market needs or as a general business strategy.
2. Better the plumber you know
In every industry there are always going to be concerns about choosing a tradesman including the plumbing industry. After all, they are working on something that requires a fix expertise and knowhow and if the problem is not fixed, further issues could develop. It should be of reassurance that general plumbers are actually skilled engineers, with a very broad skillset. 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 public health and sanitization. Plumbers like most skilled trades, can work across various industries, businesses and homes, their services are invaluable to the economy and the scope of work includes 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 Like many skilled trades plumbing offers a range of opportunities in work and lifestyle choice
3. The good 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; these can be acquired through exams. Being accredited is important as it shows both a commitment to performing a job but also, being evaluated through work associated with that job by peer professionals and proven to have a demonstrable competency level in that work. The biggest concentration of plumbers is in London, and most of the guilds in the UK are based there.
4. Finding a good plumber
Traditionally word of month is the most common method by which many 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 plumbers in areas, or through network messaging requests. The power of social media cannot be underestimated in the search for plumbing services. Web based platforms like https://billntrade.com are fast becoming popular as the go-to site to connect with general plumbers or emergency plumbers in your local area. They are able to allow rapid access to range of general plumbers or emergency plumbers, as well as simplify the communication for customers and plumbers. It is recommended that general plumbers have an online social media presence as well as use solutions like https://billntrade.com to manage the quoting, lead management and invoicing, for work, in the most effective way. 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 social media marketing and recommendations and/or search engine marketing campaigns, which can be measured in terms of returns and costs.
5. 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
6. Invitation to quote
It is also best to check references, with any referral, using https://billntrade.com 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 https://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
- 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
7. Let's talk 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 indate. 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.
8. Become a plumber
2020 has seen a lot of people seeking new challenges, wanting to leave their jobs to pursure a challenge that allows them more a better life balance, as well as discover new opportunities. So, what if you want to make a career of plumbing. 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.
9. 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.
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. 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
10. 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 organised and safe way.

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.