Best Plumbing Services
“The firm’s dedication and friendly, customer focused approach was what brought them to the attention of our awards team”
Labour - Normal working hours
I have a minimum charge of £70 plus parts for up to an hour for Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm, within 10 miles of Salisbury, followed by £60 per hour to the nearest 0.1 hour. For jobs exceeding two hours it's simply £60 per hour, start to finish, plus parts. I am not VAT registered, so there is no additional VAT to pay on my labour. My rates are based on the Average UK Plumber day rate as published by Checkatrade.
After the job, my invoice will give a detailed breakdown showing the cost of labour and of parts fitted. I carry a good supply of top quality parts sufficient for most common plumbing repairs. Where larger or more costly parts are required and need to be ordered, I will talk you through possible choices according to your budget, and either order them myself or show you where to order them for the best possible price. I am happy to install items that you supply as long as they are good quality.
At the end of the job I will ask for your email address so I can send you an invoice with my bank details. For domestic customers, payment is requested by online transfer within 7 days. Alternatively, you can pay me at the end of the job by cheque or cash if you prefer. For local business customers, payment is requested within 14 days of invoicing unless we have agreed otherwise.
Because plumbing keeps me busy during normal working hours, I do very little emergency work. But if you have a real emergency and are struggling to find someone, feel free to call me and leave a voicemail - you just might be able to persuade me! If I'm able to respond I will get back to you quickly. On the rare occasions that I do emergency work, I charge £120 plus parts for the first hour (minimum charge), then £80 per hour to the nearest 0.1 hour.
Because I usually get more than enough work to keep me busy within a 10 mile radius of Salisbury, I try to avoid going much beyond that as it is less profitable for me to do so. But if I do go beyond that, I charge a bit extra. Please see my Area page for details.
Price guidance by Job type
At the end of the job, my price is always according to my hourly rate plus parts. Please view the following pages for guidance, and feel free to ask me any further questions you have.
As a sole trader, with an annual turnover less than a certain threshold, the government gives me a choice whether to be VAT registered or not, and there are pros and cons each way. Because I mainly serve domestic customers, I choose not to be VAT registered. The upside is that I don’t have to charge you VAT for my labour. That helps me keep my prices competitive and to pass on a considerable saving to you. The downside is that I can’t reclaim VAT on my business running expenses. So my overheads cost me 20% more, but it’s worth it in order to keep my prices competitive. I still have to pay VAT on parts, so any prices I charge for parts are inclusive of VAT.
When I do jobs for business customers it is a slight disadvantage not to be VAT registered. Although I don’t charge VAT on my labour, they can’t reclaim the VAT on my parts. However, because I specialise in small repairs, the cost of parts is usually the smaller part of the overall cost and the VAT issue is fairly insignificant. However, if you want me to replace an expensive part like a Saniflo, for example, I am happy to source the part, tell you where to order it, and fit it for you when you’ve got it. That way you can still reclaim the VAT.
1) Plumbing installers
Most plumbers are primarily installers, focusing on larger-type jobs that ideally last all day, or even for several days. This approach means they can maximise the proportion of their work day which is 'on-the-tools' and therefore chargeable, and minimise travel and admin time. A plumbing installer can achieve a £350 day rate by doing seven chargeable hours at £50 per hour. In a nine hour total work day, that leaves an hour for travel time, often including a stop at a plumbing merchant, and an hour for admin time (quoting, invoicing, bookkeeping, and communicating with customers and enquirers). According to Checkatrade, £50 per hour is the average hourly rate for a plumber, but although they don't clearly state it, bear in mind that it applies primarily to this category, of all-day installation-type jobs, since that is what most plumbers do most of the time. In terms of their hourly rate, installers are at the cheap end of the pricing spectrum. In practice, very few plumbing installers actually publish their hourly rate - instead they price their work 'by the job' in the form of a quote.
2) Emergency plumbers
An emergency plumber is likely to only do one or two jobs in a day, and these will typically each be short in duration. Their total working hours will be much less than other plumbers, but they need to be on call pretty much 24/7. To achieve a £350 day rate with two jobs, they would have to charge £175 per hour. In practice, emergency plumbers typically charge a callout fee which is chargeable from the moment they arrive, plus an hourly rate on top of that for the time they spend actually fixing something. According to Checkatrade, the average emergency callout fee is £110, and the average hourly rate for an emergency plumber is £112.50. That means that a half-hour callout will cost you £166.25 plus parts, and a one-hour callout will cost you £222.50, on average! In terms of hourly rate, emergency plumbers are obviously at the expensive end of the pricing spectrum. It's not that you get a better or more experienced plumber. Rather what you are paying for is that a plumber will arrive at your door within about an hour or two of you calling them. Plumbers can only deliver that kind of service if they spend most of their day waiting for the phone to ring.
3) Maintenance plumbers (like me!)
Based on an average plumber day rate of £350, how much should you pay for a small non-emergency plumbing callout? I believe that a £70 minimum charge for up to an hour is about right. Here's why. Based on ten years' experience of focussing on small plumbing repairs, I find that within a 9 hour working day (including travel and admin), I can only schedule in four jobs. Typically, about half of those will be completed within an hour, and the other half will go over a bit, so on average those four jobs amount to about five chargeable hours in a day. Five chargeable hours at £70/hr makes a £350 day. What am I doing with the other 4 working hours? Firstly, four jobs in a day means three more trips compared to a single all-day job so there's typically about two hours' travel time in a day. Secondly, four jobs per day on average only works if I get a high volume of calls and enquiries, so it is normal to spend two hours of my day doing admin (responding to enquiries as well as invoicing, sourcing and restocking of parts). In practice, some days I might have a three-hour job and a couple of smaller jobs and total 5.5 chargeable hours. So after the first hour of a job it makes sense to drop my hourly rate to £60.
Self-employed plumbers who run their own business can potentially earn more. If a plumber works 5 days per week, and takes 28 days' holiday per year including bank holidays, they work 232 days per year. Hypothetically, if it were possible to achieve a day rate of £350 per day every working day they could take £81,200 per year in labour! Subtract about £10,000 for typical business running costs (van, fuel, insurance, advertising, professional fees, etc). and they could be earning as much as £70k. In reality, a plumber's day rate is their daily target, but their average daily takings will always be less than that. Not counting London plumbers where rates are higher, only the most successful plumbers earn £50k or more. Average earnings for self-employed plumbers are probably slightly more than for those who are employed, but not much more. My guess would be about £35k.
It reminds me of a famous story that was told about 2000 years ago:
Those who were hired first agreed to work the whole day for a denarius. That was a Roman coin, and it was the going rate of pay at the time for a tradesman or labourer for a day. They agreed to work for a full day, and they wanted a pre-fixed quote as to how much they would earn. At the end of the day they got what had been agreed.
Those who were hired later during the day agreed to do so on the basis that the landowner would pay them what was fair. They took it on trust that he was a good and honourable man who wouldn’t cheat them. You might think such a basis was more likely to lead to misunderstanding and upset.
But at the end of the day, which workers were happy, and which ones grumbled? Those who agreed to a fixed quote got what they agreed but grumbled. Whose who worked on the basis of trust were not disappointed because the landowner was not only a man of his word, but generous also.
I work according to a published hourly rate of what I think is reasonable, and based on my many reviews, my customers seem to agree with me. But every job I take on is on a trust basis. I spend my time on a job and I install parts that I have paid for. I trust that at the end of the job I will be paid what is reasonable, usually by a person I have never met before. Very rarely am I disappointed.
I realise that my customers also employ me on a trust basis. They may have never met me either, but they trust me to do a good job and to be a man of my word. I hope to never disappoint them.
Of course there is more to this story than meets the eye. This story was told by Jesus, and he is the one represented as the landowner in the story. I first took him at his word 30 years ago, and I haven't been disappointed. Sometimes he is hard to understand, and he gives no guarantees that life will be easy. The end of the day is fast approaching but there is still time for you to trust him also. When the day does end, you will find him to be generous if you do.
16 Ashlands, Salisbury, SP4 6DY
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© 2020 Hamish Erskine, h@htp
Web design by Hamish? Och aye! That too.
© 2020 Hamish Erskine, h@htp