MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Like most other building or home improvement services, plumbers are regulated by state government and rated by consumer advocates.
Before even getting a estimate from one, you should check your state's regulations on a contractor's license requirement for plumbers. For example, Tennessee requires plumbers to have a state contractor's license with a plumbing certification on any job $25,000 or more. It requires plumbers to have Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) when the job is less than $25,000. Ask a plumber for proof of his or her credentials.
* Read your estimate carefully. There are many variables in pricing for a plumber. Check if the estimate is a flat rate including materials or if materials will be charged separately. Make sure it is clear what the estimate includes. Check for things like quality of fixtures and number of fixtures and make sure large differences in quotes are not because something has been left out. Also ask about equipment fees and see if there are extra costs for equipment, truck or trip costs. Ask if the plumber will use drop sheets or service mats to protect your home during the work and if the cost of cleanup is included in the estimate.
* Ask before you buy. You may want to buy fixtures or products yourself for your plumber to install. Check with the plumber first to make sure they are willing to do this (some are not). If you do buy the products, look for items with the Uniform Plumbing Code stamp or approval from The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). If the product fails, you may be responsible for removing or fixing it, not your plumber.
* Check warranties. Make sure you check the warranties for both your products and your plumber's labor; they may not be for the same period. Your plumber should comply with manufacturers' specifications so warranties remain valid, but may have to do something that voids a warranty in an emergency.
* Consider plumbers with membership in professional organizations. Look for professionals who are members of these organizations: