Yesterday we received a phone call from a homeowner that had multiple plumbing tasks that he needed done.  His list included removing his shower valve and stubbing the hot and cold water line out of the wall to install his shower "tower" that he purchased at Costco.  It also included installing a specialty toilet that needs to be mounted flush against the back wall.  Since the toilet sits flush against the back wall, the water line must be moved over and the baseboard will also need to be cut (which apparently we are doing).  I was told that "everything was very simple to do, and it won't take long at all."  After listening to his list of "simple" plumbing projects that he wanted done, I explained to him our hourly rates, and gave him an estimate based on how long I thought it MAY take me.  Keep in mind, plumbing is vastly different from tiling a floor, or painting a wall; there are NUMEROUS variables that present themselves on EVERY job.  The homeowner did not like the fact that we were going to bill him on an hourly basis, and requested a "fixed" quote.  I told him that we do not bill our smaller jobs this way, and that I could only give him an estimate.  This still was not sufficient for him, and he insisted that it was a very simple job and that I should be able to give him a price.  I kindly explained to him that IF it was as easy as he says, he will be happy because it will fall on the lower end of my estimate.  Not good enough, he still wanted a flat rate.  By this point, I realized we were not making any progress so I obliged.  I gave him a flat rate that was 75% higher than the high end of my estimate.  Of course, this was no good either, and he was becoming upset.  I told him this was most likely what the "flat rate" companies would charge him, and that is what I needed to charge him as well to cover myself in case of unforeseen problems.  We ultimately could not agree on the terms, and I thanked him for his call and asked that if he change his mind, please call us back.  

The point to the story is that we are not a flat rate plumbing company as most companies in the area are.  While we do have fixed rates on the most common items, such as water heaters and garbage disposals, the majority of our service work is on an hourly basis.   We still believe that charging for our time is the most fair and beneficial business practice to our customers as well as ourselves.  We do not feel it is necessary to charge for the "worst case scenario" on every job, as the flat rate companies do.  While it is true that in theory, we could take our time and "milk" out each job, this is never the case, and does not benefit us even if we did.  The reason is that we charge for the first half hour at a higher rate.  This is what pays us to come to your house.  This means that we would be much further ahead by completing multiple jobs in a day that took LESS time as opposed to one job that took longer.   Besides, as all of our very loyal and repeat customers will, and have attested to, that is simply not how we operate.  We are, and always will be, thorough, efficient, honest, and neat.  9 times out of 10, we will be MUCH less expensive than the flat rate guys.   See what others have said for yourself: All Area Plumbing reviews on

Flat rate company motto:  We just need to get into every house once.  

Our Motto:  We would like to build a trusting relationship with customers for life.  



11/06/2012 12:51

Your not alone, we get that all the time. People don't understand that T&M contracts can often work out in their benefit. Sometimes we will do a T&M not to exceed. Often people will be happy with that.

11/07/2012 12:24

The information helped me as I researched for plumbing in Utah. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

11/16/2012 13:17

The information really helped me a lot. Thanks !

11/20/2012 06:14

Really enjoying your blog lots of interesting plumbing related stuff on here!

11/25/2012 04:00

Agree with Kelly on this one! thanks!

11/25/2012 21:27

You put into words something I have tried to explain multiple times to many clients. I sometimes think it would be easier to become a flat rate shop just to get away from the headache. Good luck, and happy wrenches.

01/30/2013 11:47

Every jobs has its complications. Sometime i've had jobs where i have to run to the supply house because an old piece breaks on the job. Great information for homeowners to understand why hourly is the only way


Thanks for the useful information, apart from rate the reliability is more important as the customers must not come with the same issue again.

03/30/2013 22:53

If you are a reliable company no one will care about a rate. When it comes to plumbing I wouldn't want some plumbing company that was just ok but was cheaper than the others mess with my home so they can just break more stuff! Great information you gave!!

03/30/2013 22:57

I agree totally, people need to know that it is the only way to go.


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