There are few things more fraught with purchasing hazards then the dreaded home contractor, plumber or car mechanic. These home services are always hard to source correctly due to their complex nature, the lack of definitive market prices, and the ignorance of most home owners with regard to the details of the work.
That’s why it pays to be cautious and take your time when selecting a plumber. Albeit, you might not always have the time, as many plumbing emergencies happen without warning, but it will be worth your while to education yourself a bit before such an emergency arises.
Tip #1 – Educate Yourself
One of the key ways that a non-trustworthy plumber (or contractor) can take advantage of a homeowner is through misinformation. The homeowner will always be at a disadvantage, but it makes sense to do some research regarding the issue, so at least you can know what you’re talking about.
Online forums and guides are a wealth of information on any topic, and plumbing is no different. While you won’t be a master plumber (and you should not attempt to do your own repairs, as plumber/electrical can be very dangerous), you can at least hold a somewhat decent conversation.
Being prepared with a little bit of knowledge will signal to the plumber that you aren’t a rube ready to get ripped off, and will also enable you to make sense of the estimates.
To that point, our next tip…
Tip #2 – Get a 2nd (and 3rd) Opinion
It never hurts to get a second opinion, this is true at the doctor’s office as well as in your household. When time is of the essence (such as when your basement is flooded, or you don’t have hot water) it may be difficult to get a second opinion, but it other cases it will pay to be patient and have multiple companies visit for a quote.
A standard rate for a quote from a New Jersey Plumber is about $100, while other home contractors might even provide free estimates. Considering the costs of final projects could run upwards to $1000+ dollars (much more for roofing or complex plumbing jobs), the cost of additional quotes can be easily factored into it.
If you get similar prices and feedback from 2+ independent sources, you can feel more comfortable that it is an accurate assessment of the situation. At this point you can go with the lowest price, or make a judgment call.
Tip #3 – Evaluate Online Reviews – But They Aren’t Gospel
The advent of online review sites like Yelp or HomeAdvisor has been a handy way for homeowners to evaluate a home professional before committing any money. However, we must keep in mind that it’s also be a handy way for disgruntled people to slander companies online.
Furthermore, if you read through the reviews carefully, it’s likely you’ll start to notice some that don’t sound quite natural. The value of good reviews is so great that many companies will do whatever they can to prop up their positive review stats, and reduce their negative ones.
What this means is that you should take online reviews with a grain of salt. Don’t just take a 5-star (or 3-star) rating at face value; Read through the reviews themselves and make a judgement call around whether they are legitimate or not.
There’s not getting around it: A plumbing emergency is going to cost you money. Furthermore, it’s better to pay an expert to do an outstanding job, then cheap out for an amateur that will cause more problems in the long run.
Getting yourself a bit educated, getting multiple quotes and opinions, and doing research online will help you make the best decision for your home.