home improvement

5 Ways to Spot a Dodgy and Dishonest Plumber

Not all tradesmen are dodgy but nearly everyone has had the unfortunate experience of hiring a suspect tradesperson at some point in their lives. But what about plumbers? How does one recognise the signs of a dodgy plumber?




Ask to see a trade license

Always remember that you are the client. You’re paying for the work to be done so you have every right to ask to see your plumber’s credentials. This applies beyond plumbing to most trades including air-conditioning, brick-laying and a whole raft of other trades. These skilled workers should all possess the relevant licenses to their trade or specialised area, and if they are a reputable firm, like Capital Plumbing, they won’t mind showing you their credentials. Note: Licenses vary from place to place so be sure to research what’s appropriate for where you live.



Ask around your friends and family; have they had similar work done? Would they recommend the plumber who fixed their sink and/or burst pipes? This is usually one of the best ways to get a good plumber – indeed, it works for most trades. Word of mouth is one of the strongest indicators when people are choosing their tradespeople, and if your mate got a good result, it’s only natural to assume that you’ll get the same. Conversely if your plumber won’t give you references, there’s a strong possibility that he’s a bit dodgy.


Ask for a written quote or contract

Do this before the work commences because there’s nothing worse than getting a verbal quote for $200 then getting a final invoice for $700 (or more). Obviously there may be a slight difference between the original written quote and the final bill but there shouldn’t be a difference of several hundred dollars. Most reputable plumbers will give you a written quote before starting the job so, heaven forbid, if everything goes hideously wrong and you’ve got the original quote/contract, if it goes to court or the ombudsman, you’ve got the evidence to back up your claim.


Do your own research

“$400 to change a washer? Why, of course…” Get an idea about the costs involved with the work you’re looking at getting done. Phone around a few plumbers and try to get an idea of the costs involved. Are you getting widely differing quotes or are you getting similar figures for the same job? Nobody likes to get ripped off and a good plumber won’t try to exploit you. Indeed, any good tradesperson will endeavour to do the best job possible so you’ll go back to them when further work needs doing. Three different quotes should give you a rough idea of what you can expect to pay.


Alarm bells

Is your plumber only available on a mobile phone number? Do they ask for cash up front before starting the job? Is it difficult to get a business address from them? While these are not necessarily signs of a dodgy plumber, they might get the alarm bells ringing in your mind. Don’t ignore your instincts. You’re not as foolish as you may believe.

Have you had an experience with a dodgy plumber? What were the warning signs for you? Leave your story in the comments below.


Photo credits:”Plumber at work” by photo taken by flickr user rickflickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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