Free Estimates

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Cookie, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I was wondering if Plumbers ever do free estimates?

    Today, I am meeting with parents (1/2 hr. away) to determine what instruction best suits their learning disabled child. I will spend maybe 1.5 hours. The only cost is when the chid is actually in a learning setting after the intital visit from me to evaluate.

    Now, I don't charge for my time, or gas and most people in my field do not, I am wondering how plumbers determine an estimate, and do you ever do free estimates, and then, it is absorbed into the cost of the service.

    Our only pay is when the child is in instruction that is it. And, some parents are still not happy.

    It is the same with Real Estate, when I show you a house, it is on my dime.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    Since people seem to be perfectly willing to pay a bundle of money to a real estate agent, or in this case, to yourself, going out for estimates may be part off the territory. Probably, the customer is not trying to get 6 low ball estimates on a 1/2 day job. So to answer the question, some plumbers will quote a flat rate on the phone for "X" like replace water heater, replace PRV, install toilet. etc. I get the impression from the posts that most of our guys will not go out to your house to esimtate these types of jobs. Want to remodel a bathroom....that is worth a quote.


    Let's here what the others have to say.
  3. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    Well, RE agents only work on commission, now we can do mileage but, when we ride someone around it is our car, our gas, and our time. So, if after all that work, they don't buy, it was a waste.

    With doing special ed kids, it was always this way. I only get paid when I teach, or in some cases, write-up the evaluation, it depends on some factors which won't be understood here.

    Just asking about the plumbing industry out of interest.
  4. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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    Most of our Quotes are flat rates. But I will go out and give free estimates on jobs I feel I need to see. It's the cost of doing business.

    John
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    estimates

    For small jobs, I tell the customer that it would take the same time to do the work as it would to estimate it, so either they call me to do the repair, or find someone else. other jobs, it depends on what is involved in making the estimate. If I have to drive halfway across town, I will charge for it.
  6. It's against my religion, even though I'm heading over to do one right now. :(


    Long time customer, she's used us numerous times and the laundry list of repairs she told us is why I have to see what's in the cards for pricing.


    I'm 90% sure I'll get the job, so unless pedro and his white van with 13 of his brothers are going to be doing the whole project for $200, I've got the job.

    Si
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    Then you are a hypocrite...:D.....:)

    Pass me some of that chicken....
  8. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I just got home from doing an evaluation of a plumber's daughter ( age 11) and when I mentioned, I am now to collect the 75 dollar fee, which he knew in advance their would be, he started yelling and grabbed my paperwork saying, " to forget it, we will home-school her!"

    Usually, their isn't a fee, their are so many variables, but this time their was, and none of which went to me.

    So, I put a half tank of gas in the car, spent the last 1.5 hours nearly total and I lost it all, including my pen, ha ha ha ha.

    All of this, to help his daughter develop some life skills. I knelt down to the little girl's level and told her, it was going to be okay, because she started crying.

    Nice man. Good dad. Sure don't want him for my plumber either. I had this feeling he was going to spell trouble from the get-go, I was right. Too bad for his girl.
  9. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

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    Do you think that he was yelling because of the $ 75.00 charge? Remember your training. You should know why he was really yelling Cookie.

    Teaching Children with learning disabilities in an inclusive environment chapter 1

    With luck he will call you back when he cools down
  10. Herk

    Herk Plumber

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    I'm sorry the plumber was so rude to you, Cookie.

    When I used to plumb houses, commercial buildings, remodels, there was no fee to give a bid. But the prize was always in the thousands of dollars.

    Now that I have done strictly service for over ten years, there is a $38 charge to go out. Some charge a lot more. But since I work in such a small area, it covers my gas and expenses . . . a little.

    I give them a price from the book and if they take it, the fee is included in the first task. If they argue with me, I don't push it. It isn't worth $38 to argue.

    But on the phone, I try to make it clear that I will charge because so many price shoppers will call 5 or 6 plumbers to their house and expect them all but one to waste their time for free. What it comes down to is, is my time worth money? There's nothing worse than going out to give someone a price and have them ask a few questions and then say, "Oh, I can do that. Thanks for comin' out."

    I do regular work for a property manager who has me do the work, then price it out of the book without a quote first. I've worked for him for quite a few years and he knows I'm not out to get him. (I hope.)
  11. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I have been an educator for 31 years, and in those years, I have encountered some rude parents, yes. One was a parent of a boy, John, age 21, he had several problems, one of the biggest was his focal point of his eyes. John, was a great kid, he was loveable, a big kid, but his development was that of a 22 month old. John was a resident and his mother was deserted when John was born, by her husband. She would rountinely come to visit and would do quite the opposite of which she was told by us to help John. It became a constant struggle to do what was right for her son. She would use red,white & blue contact paper on his furniture which he would focus on and he would have severe
    epileptic seizures, and he died in my arms.

    She couldn't deal with the guilt of bringing into this world a person like John. She was always rude, always argumentative, always without reason or common sense while talking to her about John.

    Tonite, the father couldn't deal with his daughter's problems. I can't say without knowing him better exactly if the guilt to it, the expense to it, or just the constant struggle of caring for her which can wear a person down very quickly especially, if you got other kids, too.

    Why was he rude to me? Was it the 75 bucks? It could had been yes. Could it had been mixed with he was overwhelmed, yep.

    Thankfully, it doesn't happen enough to make the job too miserable, but, somedays, you want to call it a halt and flip burgers at McDonalds. But, what happens to the kids?

    I could call the state and cause a big problem for him, and if I was a newbie at this, I probably would follow the letter of the law and the books, but, I have been dealing with this long enough to know, people just sometimes, get overwhelmed and act out.

    I have talked with him before and he was fine, so, he deserves a chance, and he got it. I just want my pen back, :) really.

    It was just when I walked in, he looked overwhelmed, and I knew this was not going to be easy.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  12. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    You're doing a great job Cookie. I have several friends with disabled children and a service like yours is a blessing. The angry people in question will surely come to their senses.

    But for plumbing, I never charge to give a quote and my quote is always zero. I'll even buy the parts for someone and will turn down any form of reimbursement.

    One of the joys of being completely unlicensed.

    So next time you need a faucet replaced or a new fill valve for your toilet, you know who to call.

    Ian Gills. Cutting his own throat to do plumbing because it's fun.

    I trust it's legal for me to do this work as long as I do not charge for it?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009


  13. LOL! And once again I'm the fool, see below:


    She wanted me to replace a 3 handle faucet to single handle, and replace a toilet. Toilet rocks badly.


    I tell her 4 hours estimated to replace the faucet in the shower. I tell her my hourly rate and 4 freaking times she goes "4 hours?"

    It's an estimation, It usually takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours so my take is spot on.

    The toilet? She wants a set price, or "flat rate" and I told her that I cannot give her that because it's older piping and it's been rocking for how many years?

    2


    That means the brass ring could be broke loose from the lead, even though it's not visible downstairs.

    Like the fool I was, there was a tree trimmer guy giving an estimate as well.


    So here all the service providers looking to be employed came out at no cost to the consumer to "look" at the situation.


    I could be totally wrong, and I could assume that she's going to price shop me and find the cheapest, or she's going to realize how fair I've been in the past to her and her neighbor.


    IF she never calls me back, that would be a fair sense she found someone cheaper.


    That would mean that I would not feel comfortable working for her again. She's written off loyalty and I'm just like that.

    Hope she appreciates the services of another because I can choose not to work, just like some chose not to employ me.
  14. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    That took my plumber one day and, together with changing the tub drain, came to $1800.
  15. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    Herk, you aren't going to believe this, but I was actually kidding with someone earlier, that watch this man will be a plumber, lol. Thirty-eight dollars, oh, I know, I put 15 in gas to get there and back, and coming home that little picture of the gas tank light came on. So more gas tomorrow.

    I don't know what to think of the estimates, being free or not. It is such a catch-22, I don't know. I hear what you are saying, I know, I did my gas tonite, lost my pen, lol, ( my favorite pen) and spent so much of my time there, too. I do it alot.

    That is why I posted this, because it is like, what is your time worth, and is it fair to that customer? I don't think, correct me if you think different, if you do plumbing, teach, sale houses, etc.

    Maybe, I am off-base here, don't know.



  16. Deaaaaaaammmm


    I told her to expect $500, that includes the faucet.



    Hell I gotta pay for that rash medication somehow! :D
  17. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    I was told to go out and buy the faucet. The first one I bought for him was the wrong size. That's still sitting in the basement.

    He did teach me how to sweat pipes that day though.
  18. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

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    So you do know and were just venting :eek:
  19. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

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    Don't put yourself in the same league as plumbers Cookie. Of course you should be paid. You are coming out to provide a service. Plumbers in providing a quote are certainly not, unless they tell you what is needed and how you can fix it.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  20. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I figure I got another 20 years in it, then, I am done. :)That will mean I worked with special needs kids for 51 years.

    I love it though, when I am standing in the supermarket and some big, adult, manly, person says, " Didn't you teach me in the fifth grade?" YIKES, you are like HOW old?



    But, I do know who to call, when I want that sump pump finally put in. :)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2009
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