Are the markups on these plumbing parts charged by my plumber normal or high?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by pezlos, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. pezlos

    pezlos New Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I recently hired a plumber to make some repairs to the copper supply lines at a condo association. The plumbing company charges $95 per hour, which for the Los Angeles area, seems fair to me, and I have no issue with his hourly rate or with the amount of time it took for the plumber to make these three repairs. There were three leaks in the hot water supply line, but in different areas, all of which were easily accessible with no crawling etc. The total time to make these repairs was 3 hours. The labor was $285.

    Like any other contractor trying to make a profit, I know plumbers need to markup the parts used for repairs, but how much of a markup is considered exorbitant? I know this: the plumber that was dispatched to our condo association had all of the parts in the truck and there was no need for the plumber to make a supply run for this job. Here's a break down of what he charged for the parts: $16.46 for one 3/4" copper elbow, $12.29 for one 3/4" mip adapter, four 3/4" couplings $22.32, two feet of type L copper pipe $21.00, solder $4.00, and one 3/4" ball valve $21.36.

    It is a small plumbing company with only a few employees and one owner. In you opinion, as professional plumbers, are these markups excessive or what one can expect? One last thing, this company is one of the vendors that my condo association uses for our plumbing needs, so they do get repeat business from us.

    Thanks for reading and for your input in advance.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Bothell, Washington
    There has to be some markup.

    Copper is going out of sight right now too.

    Sounds maybe heavy on some of the parts, and too low on the hourly.
    It is low on the hourly.

    When I go in for a fifteen minute CAT scan, it comes back in the thousands.
    There is a bit more to it then what the parts cost. You still have to pick them up somewhere, stock the truck, inventory in and out and then account for, what's the word? Something like loss or shortage or parts that walk off or parts that get installed but never written down.
    On my CAT scan, I realize that there is the equipment, the room cost, the gal checking me in and out, the billing department, the tech that looks at the scan and writes his report and the doctor that looks at the report, and the computer server that stores the data.
    The plumber was dispatched out, and then there was the book keeper, and then the guy picking up stuff for the plumbers, and the fellow that works on the truck, and someone has to put gas in and change the oil. Who does the advertising for the company, and does he get taken out to lunch by the supplier ever? How long does he wait in line while the orders are picked and is there a big line of other plumbers there first. How long did they spend educating you on what there were going to do, and how long did you keep them there before he could leave for the next job. Was someone paying him to hang out and talk? Or is that just freebie time?
    So why does it cost thousands for a cat scan, and why so many of them each year? I mean, what do they expect to find on those things?
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  3. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Cincinnati OH
    Thank you Terry,to many times after I did the paper work and got paid ," by the way while you are here can you look at this other problem".Sorry mam`m /sir but I have another call to go on,call and make a new appointment.I would have 5 to 6 calls lined up and I had to get it done right the first time,and travel time,I would have jobs lined up first thing in the morning and go through them and at the end of day tired then had to be on call 24/7,and it made me sick,now I sit at a desk all day and I don`t know which is worse.
  4. pezlos

    pezlos New Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Ok, the invoice I was given was merely an estimate. . .sorry!

    Thank you for replying to my original post.

    It turns out that the invoice I was given was only an estimate of what I would be charged for the parts, not the actual amount charged. The plumber returned my call and explained that they use a book with parts estimates but then later calculate the actual parts cost. He said they always quote high so they don't get burned, something I can understand. It turns out that the elbow and everything else was about 1/4 the price of what was written on my estimate. I like this plumbing company because they are a little less expensive on the labor than our previous vendor, and they are also licensed and insured.

    Thanks again for your feedback to my question.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IT sounds like a reversal of the "bait and switch". You give a high price and if there is no "outcry" you charge them that way, if there is a question you back up and say, "my bad" let me give the right numbers. It is like the boy who graduated from optometry school and asked his dad, also an optometrist, how to charge the customer. He was told, "You quote them $195.00 for the glasses. If there is no comment, then you say, 'The lenses are an extra $125.00, and if there is still no comment, you add, "Each". As for the "while you are here", if I have not already put the tools away and written the invoice, there is no problem. If I have then the added work gets charged a bit heavier.
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