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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    74

    Default standard plumbers' rates

    We had a guy out yesterday to give us a quote for replacing our natural gas water heater. He assured us that the rate he quoted was a "standard rate", that "everybody charges the same." He said it was a pretty simple job, though he'd have to lengthen the pipes a little because the new heater will probably be shorter than the current one. He said it would take about 4 hours and cost about $880 for the labor alone.
    My questions:
    1) Is there such a thing as "standard rates"?
    2) Can a water heater replacement (like for like) really take 4 hours?

    Thanks
    By the way, I'm in Asheville, NC. The water heater is in a finished, walk-in basement.
    Last edited by johnL; 06-18-2011 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    In my fair city the going rate per man hour is $110 for retail plumbing, even if the second lackie is just there breathing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    South*East
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    1,168

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    In our area most water heaters or in the garages. Most take 45 to 60 minutes to replace. (including removing the old heater) In four hrs. he must be including taking a nap on your time. For $880.00 we could supply and install a 40 gallon natural gas heater.

    John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    $880 for labor only sounds way too steep! Who's supplying the new water heater and hauling off the old one? My sense is, this guy sees an easy target and by telling you "that's the standard rate" is an indication he's lying through his teeth.

    I would call around to several plumbing companies and see what their hourly rate is and whether or not they have a flat fee for waterheater replacements. Give them specifics about access, waterheater type and capacity, your location, etc., they should be able to give you a good ballpark for the entire job.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    That's with me supplying the new one. We didn't discuss disposal of the old one.

    Yeah, I kind of wondered about the "standard rate" thing. (Okay, really, I thought it was BS, but I don't know everything!)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    I used to tell my customers this:

    "Industry standard" means nothing to the layman because you're not in the industry, you have no reference to know right from wrong, which means "industry standard" is whatever I tell you it means.

    Having said that, I've never known an honest tradesman to use the term, they will instead use something to the effect of "code requirement" in reference to the particular uniform building/plumbing/electrical code that IS the standard guideline for the industry.

    IMHO, anyone who uses the term "industry standard" is trying to confuse you with fancy jargon and sway you to their opinion, or in this case, get you to hire them without consulting others who will quite likely charge half as much.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,084

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    $880 labor to install a water heater in the basement?

    Is he a plumber or a criminal lawyer?

    Let's assume that access to the basement is rough, and the plumber has to change the supply lines, etc. A logical fee for labor and materials should be half of that (not including the conventional gas water heater - another $400 to $600 depending on the model). BUT that includes haul away of old WH.

    Kindly tell him that you are getting more bids. I'm sure you'll find someone for less.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    Thanks for the replies, folks. The search is on for another plumber.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    There is no such thing as a standard rate. Prices will vary by location, experience, competition, and many other factors.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,481

    Default Re: standard plumbers' rates

    Quote Originally Posted by benla View Post
    There is no such thing as a standard rate. Prices will vary by location, experience, competition, and many other factors.
    While this is true, there is usually a median price range that most tradesmen fall under. The description of the individual above seems quite excessive. It's great if he can get it, but it is by no means the norm for most installations.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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