Choosing The Right Plumber

By Ricky Cox

Its 2020 - and we are living in the era of choice. If there's a good or service you want to buy, chances are you have plenty of options. If you go to Google Maps and type in "Pizza" you will find a plethora of different pizza joints ranging from family businesses, to national chains, to quirky dive eateries like Seminole Heights Pizza.

In the same manner that you have a variety of different options for pizza, you have a plethora of options when it comes to hiring a plumber. There are over 300 plumbing companies in the Tampa Bay area alone! This is great news for clients, because variety in competition allows the client to pick and choose, in the same way that you can choose different toppings on your pizza pie. But are all pizzas - I mean, Plumbers - created equal?

First Consideration - Licensing & Regulation

Did you know Plumbers are considered contractors in the State of Florida, and must operate under the guidelines of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation? This means in order for a company to be compliant with state and local laws, the company must be operated under the supervision of a licensed individual, commonly referred to as a Master Plumber. Master Plumbers pass a series of rigorous background checks and competency examinations prior to receiving their state license. In addition to the aforementioned, Master Plumbers must demonstrate good character and financial stability. Felons and swindlers are barred from receiving their license.

Licensed Plumbing companies are required to display their license number on their websites, their work vehicles, and on any forms of advertising, such as business cards or mail flyers. This is usually a series of numbers, starting with the prefix CFC or RFC. For example, our company is licensed under the owner Ricky Cox, a Master Plumber whose license number is CFC1430270.

Licensed Plumbing companies are also required to install their work according to a set of rules known as the Florida Plumbing Code, which regulates the quality of work done as well as the particulars of the work such as piping material, fittings, installation depth, application, etc. Licensed Plumbers are required to have their work inspected by a third party (usually the municipality in which the work is being performed) to ensure compliance to the Florida Plumbing Code.

What is the danger of hiring an unlicensed Plumbing Contractor?

For one, you can guarantee the work will not be inspected. Since unlicensed contracting is a crime in Florida, many unlicensed plumbers perform side work for cash only, under the condition that the work will not be inspected by the local building department. This puts the homeowner or business owner at risk, since they will not be able to verify if the system installation meets the proper requirements.

Second, most insurance companies will not insure an unlicensed contractor. That needs to be stated again: most insurance companies will not insure an unlicensed contractor. This means if you hire an unlicensed contractor and they cause damage to your property, you will most likely be on the hook for any repairs or damage. And since your homeowners insurance requires you to hire licensed contractors to be covered under the policy, you may be facing a last minute exclusion that could ruin you financially!

Under Florida law, it is the homeowner's responsibility to verify licensing of a contractor prior to hiring. Most plumbing contractors are happy to show you their up-to-date license and insurance information to put you at ease. You can also visit the Florida DBPR website to research a contractor to verify licensing. https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp

Second Consideration - Reputation & Quality

When searching for a plumber to work in your home or business, it helps to know the reputation of the company prior to making a hiring decision. Thanks to Google, Facebook, and other websites, it is extremely easy to see how a given company ranks against its competitors. An average ranking of 4.5 or higher means that a company has an excellent area in the local community. Forthright Plumbing is proud to have over 100 5-star reviews across Google and Facebook, with an average review of 5 stars!

In addition to reputation, the quality of the work being performed is extremely important. Some plumbers may be comfortable using subpar materials to get a job done fast, so be sure to ask what their warranty policy is regarding their work. We advise hiring plumbers that have a stated warranty policy, who use only the highest quality materials to get the job done right, the first time. At Forthright Plumbing, we strive to use pipe and materials manufactured in the USA whenever possible! We also proudly display photos of our work on our website and social media channels, because we believe in taking pride in the caliber of work we do for our clients.

Third Consideration - Price & Value

Everyone wants to feel like they got a good deal. Supermarket shelves are lined with "Buy One Get One Free" stickers and other pricing schemes that can often persuade a potential purchaser. Hiring a plumber for a service is different, however. Some companies are start-ups with limited overhead, other companies are established and have 30 trucks on the road to service their clientele: which is why pricing can vary widely for even simple plumbing jobs. Some companies charge by the hour (time and material), whereas others charge by the job (flat rate pricing.) In the last 20 years, the industry has shifted to where most companies across the nation are beginning to charge by the job as opposed to by the hour. This is convenient for both the customer and the plumber, because the client is able to know exactly how much the bill will be before committing to a repair, and the plumber is able to eliminate complaints about a technician taking too long on a repair (and thus charging the client more under the old time and material structure.)

In addition to flat rate pricing, many companies are now charging a minimum fee to send a technician to a home or business. You might be thinking - "What happened to free estimates?" The right question to ask is, "Would a doctor come to my home and diagnose my health issue for free? Would a lawyer examine my legal documentation for free? Would an elevator repairman diagnose an issue with an elevator for free?" Of course not! Plumbers are regulated professionals who often have years of experience in their field - and with an abundance of demand in the market, it is unlikely that many companies will be reverting to free estimates for service work in the near future.

Let's say you are hiring a plumber to install a garbage disposal. You receive a quote from three plumbing companies:

  1. Company A will install your garbage disposal for $155. You must provide the garbage disposal ( spending time to purchase your own unit) and the company will not warranty the unit if it malfunctions. There is a 90 day warranty on the installation, but the warranty is limited in its scope. If there are any issues with the new garbage disposal, you will have to pay the company to make a return trip.
  2. Company B will provide and install a new garbage disposal for $365. The garbage disposal is a reputable brand, and the price includes a 1 year warranty on both the unit and the installation. If there are any issues with the garbage disposal, the company will return and fix the issue at no additional cost.
  3. Company C also has the same offer as Company B - but they are running a special on a top-of-the-line model for $695. The unit is twice as powerful as the model sold by Company B, which means you will never have to worry about the unit jamming up when your kids throw food down the drain. In addition, the unit is covered by a 6 year warranty. If there are ever any issues with your new unit, the company will return and fix the issue at no additional cost.

Using the above scenarios, which is the best value? Although the price of Company A is hard to beat, the offer on the table is missing key components and requires you to purchase your own unit. It could be reasonably argued that Company B or C offers the best value, depending on your needs and the level of service and warranty you require. In this way, we have discovered that Price and Value are often at opposite ends of the spectrum, and have an inverse relationship.

We have a saying in the plumbing service industry: "There are only three kinds of jobs - Fast, Cheap, and Good. If you want Good and Fast service, it won't be Cheap. If you want Good and Cheap service, it won't be Fast. And if you want Fast and Cheap - it definitely won't be Good!"

At Forthright Plumbing, we are committed to providing value to our clients by using high quality materials, performing high quality work, and always putting our client's needs first. We stand by our work and always offer a warranty on each job, big or small.

The Take-Away: Should You Hire Forthright Plumbing?

Excellent question! Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your priorities and what you are looking for in a plumber. For your convenience, I have created a brief comparison chart that should help you decide if we will be a good fit for you.

Pros of Hiring Forthright Plumbing

  • 5-Star Rated Service
  • Licensed & Insured
  • Track Record of Excellence and Experience
  • All Work Supervised by a Licensed Master Plumber
  • Friendly, Professional Staff
  • Warranties On All Services
  • Honesty, Accountability, and Reliability (The Name is Forthright for a Reason!)
  • Excellent Value for Clients

Cons of Hiring Forthright Plumbing

  • Not the Cheapest Plumber in Town

Thank you for taking the time to read this article! If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at info@forthrightplumbing.com. Have a blessed day!