2023 plumbing estimates example
How to estimate plumbing costs.
Whether you’re still learning as an apprentice or an experienced master plumber, pricing plumbing jobs is difficult to grasp. Having a plumbing estimate example or a pricing guide to rely on:
- Guarantees that you stay profitable on every job.
- Makes your estimates as accurate as possible.
Luckily, this is what you’ll get from this article! Keep reading for information on how to estimate plumbing costs.
Why are estimates so important?
Simply put, our research indicates that your plumbing estimate could be the deciding factor in getting you a plumbing gig. As per our expertise, professional and detailed estimates give your customers confidence in your knowledge of the trade.
Drawing from our experience, your plumbing estimates also need to be as accurate as possible to avoid disputes, earn you a good reputation, and win you more jobs.
Setting your plumbing rates
Before you give any plumbing quotes, you need to establish your rates.
Based on our observations, as all construction professionals do, you must include your overhead and a markup for profit in your plumbing estimates. But first, you need to know the exact dollar amount of all your operating expenses. Overhead costs include:
- Office expenses, including your rent or lease.
- Team member wages, benefits, Workers’ Compensation, payroll taxes, etc.
- Work vehicles and tools.
- Plumbing license and insurance.
On top of this, you need to leave a buffer for extraordinary expenses like emergency repairs to your work truck.
Once you’ve totaled these costs, you have a breakeven number that you have to reach to stay afloat. To make a profit, you need to earn more than this.
According to the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the ideal profit, and therefore markup, for plumbers is 35%.
Finally, before setting your plumbing rates, check out plumbing estimate examples in your area to make sure you’re not priced too high or too low.
Our research indicates that the national averages for plumbing prices in the United States are as follows:
- Hourly rates for plumbers range from $50 – 150/hr.
- Minimum standard service fees are anywhere from $50 – 100.
- Smaller jobs like installing a kitchen faucet are between $125 – 350.
- The range for larger projects like moving existing plumbing to a new location is $500 – 800.
These prices are based on actual plumbing estimate examples given to customers on the HomeGuide site and can be used as a reference for your own rates.
Below are some tips on how to figure out your hourly rate.
Calculate your hourly rate
To figure out your hourly rate, divide your total monthly operating expenses by the number of hours you spend doing actual plumbing work.
Remember that to calculate your billable hours, you have to subtract travel time to jobs, the time it takes to get permits, and time spent giving plumbing estimates.
So, for example, if your monthly overhead is $7,000 and you spend 35 hours a week doing plumbing work, your minimum hourly plumbing rate has to be:
$7,000 / 4 weeks = costs of $1,750/week
$1,750/week / 35 hours = $50/hr.
When you add the recommended 35% markup, your hourly rate becomes:
$50/hr. + 35% = $65/hr.
Additionally, based on our observations, the more complicated a plumbing job and the more experience you have, the more you will charge. The same is true for flat fee plumbing rates.
How to charge a flat fee in a plumbing estimate
Time is still a factor when you price plumbing work by the job. However, you calculate how long you anticipate a job will take and base your flat rate on that number of hours.
Through our practical knowledge, the advantages to using a flat-fee labor charge on your plumbing estimates are numerous. The first is that customers prefer knowing upfront how much they will pay. Not to mention that it’s easier for you to budget when you know your revenue from a job ahead of time.
And since experienced plumbers can finish earlier than most, you can make more than you would have at an hourly rate and take on more jobs.
For flat-fee pricing to work for you though, you have to accurately predict job timelines and include a disclaimer in your plumbing estimates in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Costs to include in a plumbing estimate
Take a look at the following costs and include all that apply to your estimate. Then add the below fees to the ones you calculated above to guarantee your plumbing business’s profitability and long-term success.
Materials and supplies needed
Materials and supplies used in plumbing projects include fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and toilets. This also refers to accessories like:
- Different kinds of piping.
- Adapters, couplings, and crosses.
- Sleeves, nipples, and barbs.
- Elbows, wyes, and valves.
Special equipment to complete a job
Any plumbing estimate example will include a section for the special equipment needed for a job and its cost. Special equipment is any equipment not in your toolbox.
Say, for example, you don’t own a high-pressure hose but decide it’s best to hydro jet a clogged sewer line. You can easily rent one but the cost would have to be included in your plumbing estimate.
This means knowing beforehand all the tools, equipment, materials, and supplies you need to complete a job.
Additional labor costs
Our research indicates that a common question when it comes to estimating is: “Do plumbers charge for travel time?”. Based on our firsthand experience, this is something to consider when calculating your additional labor costs as your team could spend a significant of the day commuting from site to site.
Another factor to remember is that some plumbing jobs may require you to subcontract work to be done by other trades.
Based on our observations, you can find yourself working as a licensed contractor looking for HVAC professionals to repair damaged ducts or certified electricians for specific plumbing equipment.
As a plumber, it’s vital to have a reliable network of tradespeople and know their rates.
For smaller jobs like replacing plumbing fixtures, permits are not an issue. But you usually need permits for larger, more complicated plumbing work.
Our findings show that although permit requirements vary by state and even by county, you can typically expect to need a permit for:
- Replacing drain lines.
- Plumbing work involving sewage.
- Upgrading or replacing a hot water heater.
- Installing new domestic water piping.
- Commercial and public plumbing projects.
As per our expertise, it’s crucial to know exactly when a permit is required in your area to protect yourself from lawsuits, comply with all building codes, and keep your license.
And based on our observations, most county websites will list permit requirements for all types of construction work from roofing to plumbing.
Getting permits takes time, knowledge, and legwork. In other words, there are costs involved with getting them that will add to the total project cost.
Other cost factors to consider
When it comes to knowing how to estimate plumbing jobs, here are the additional costs to factor into plumbing estimates include:
- Debris removal.
- Fixing existing code violations you notice.
- Protecting areas that you’re not working on.
Now that you’ve learned what to include in your fees, read on for plumbing estimate example prices!
How to write a plumbing estimate
Plumbing estimates are one of your best tools in landing a plumbing gig.
Based on our firsthand experience, giving detailed, professionally-made estimates shows customers that you take this trade seriously and make them more likely to trust you.
A key preparation step before creating plumbing estimates is to set your rates first. Our findings show that on average, American plumbers charge between $50 and $150 per hour, but you should check plumbing rates in your area to ensure you don’t overcharge or undercharge.
Now that you have an hourly fee to reference, it’s time to create your estimate. Your estimate should factor in:
- Overhead costs like tool purchase, taxes, advertising fees, office rent, and other operational expenses.
- All the materials and supplies needed to complete the job.
- Special equipment rent, if necessary.
- Cost of additional labor, like subcontractors.
- Travel costs.
- Permit expenses, especially for larger jobs that involve sewage or domestic water piping.
- Additional unexpected costs like fixing code violations and debris removal.
- Your profit margin, added when all other costs are itemized.
Once you’ve come up with the numbers, you need to make sure the estimate looks professional by including:
- Your company’s name, logo, and contact information.
- An estimate number for easier reference.
- An explanation of the work about to be done.
- The estimate’s validity period.
Prices for 10 popular plumbing jobs
Below you’ll find the standard costs to customers for common plumbing jobs.
These plumbing cost estimate figures were collected from websites that consult licensed plumbers and aggregate costs from plumbing estimate examples. The below prices reflect the national average cost of plumbing jobs.
1. Fixing leaky pipes
The cost to repair or replace a leaking pipe will depend on:
- How long it takes to find the damaged line.
- Accessibility — how difficult it is to service the pipe.
- The length of piping that needs to be replaced.
That said, our research indicates that the average cost to repair a leaking pipe is around $250 but the price can be anywhere between $150 – 850.
And through our practical knowledge, with leaking pipes, there’s bound to be drywall damage as well.
Whether it’s from the holes you cut to find and service the line or from water damage, our findings show that the costs to restore drywall can add another $250 – 750 to your plumbing estimate.
2. Replacing a burst pipe
Image credit: Greyerbaby via Pixabay
Here are 5 reasons a pipe will burst:
- Water freezing inside of it.
- Tree roots making contact that crack a buried pipe.
- Corrosion due to age.
- A construction accident.
- A clog in the pipe increases the water pressure past its capacity.
Our investigation demonstrated that the cost to repair a burst pipe is between $400 – 1,500. Factor in water damage cleanup, drywall repair, repainting walls, etc., and the price on your plumbing estimate can increase by another $1,000 – 4,000.
3. Slab leak repair costs
The average slab leak repair cost is $2,280 with easily accessible leaks priced at around $630. And based on our observations, major slab leaks have a median cost of $4,400 to fix.
Here are the national averages taken from plumbing estimate examples for some of the tasks involved in repairing leaks that seep through a foundation:
- Finding the leak — prices range from $150 – 400 with an average cost of $280.
- Rerouting pipes — the median cost is $1,500 for longer lines and $200 – 500 for shorter ones.
- Pipe repair — for pipes that can be repaired, the price to fix them is $150 – 350.
- Fixing a water main — costs anywhere from $150 – 3,000 with the average customer paying $850.
- Slab/foundation repair — when the foundation only needs to be filled where plumbers broke through the concrete, customers pay $1,900 – 6,700.
- Replacing a concrete slab — pouring a new slab costs $600 – 7,200 or $6 per square foot.
4. Water heater repair
For a standard tank flush to remove mineral deposits from a water heater, the national average plumbing cost is $450. Here are some common water heater repairs and their prices:
|Corroded dip tube||$100 – 300|
|Pressure relief valve||$50 – 300|
|Electric thermostat||$100 – 350|
|Heating element||$100 – 350|
|Thermocouple||$100 – 325|
|Gas control valve||$150 – 600|
5. Garbage disposal installation
Running pipes to install a garbage disposal in a kitchen not already equipped for one usually costs $100 – 450. As per our expertise, other costs can include:
- Price for a garbage disposal unit plus installation — $225 – 1,400.
- Installing vents and hook-ups for a utility sink — $500 – 1,300.
- Purchasing and installing a utility sink — $50 – 900.
6. Sump pump repair
The average sump pump repair costs $500 with a range between $300 – 750.
However, straightforward fixes on a pedestal-style pump can be as low as $130. More complicated work, like on a submersible unit, costs customers around $1,200.
7. Fixing a main water line leak
Plumbing estimate examples show that main water line issues range between $450 – 2,500 to repair. Plumbers charge the following prices for these standard water main services:
- Repairing a shut-off valve — $150 – 300.
- Finding and fixing a leak — $300 – 3,000.
- Rebuilding or replacing a broken section — $400 – 2,000.
- Copper pipe soldering — $500 – 2,000.
8. Clearing clogged drains and the main sewage line
Image credit: Semevent via Pixabay
Most customers will try to unclog a sink, bathtub, or shower themselves. Drawing from our experience, calling a plumber for simple obstructions costs is between $50 – 450.
If the drains are clear but water isn’t draining properly, snaking the main sewage line is needed. Using a cable and cutting head to clear tree roots or other blockages, the average plumber charges between $100 – 800. The final cost then depends on the distance snaked.
Other common issues with the main sewage line and their average prices are:
- Sewage coming out — $1,000 – 5,000.
- Belly/dip in the piping — $1,500 – 3,000.
- Broken sewer line — $1,500 – 3,000.
If you need to replace the sewage line and drain altogether, your customer is looking at a price between $1,000 – 6,000.
9. Septic system repairs, maintenance, and installation
On average, these are the prices plumbers charge customers for cleaning a septic tank:
|Tank size (in gallons)||Cleaning cost|
|1,000||$268 – 316|
|1,500||$367 – 572|
|2,000||$430 – 633|
Other average costs associated with septic tanks include:
- Pumping — $400.
- Repairs — $1,500.
- Installing a new system — $5,500.
10. Toilet repair
For smaller jobs like replacing a toilet seat, a customer may decide to DIY or hire a local handyman.
Our findings show that these are the average prices customers pay for toilet repairs that need a plumber:
- Rebuild a closet tank — $275.
- Replace the toilet wax ring & seal — $225.
- Fix the syphon — $135.
- Replace the tank — $300; the bowl — $175.
Plumber cost to replace p-trap
P-traps, sometimes known as sink traps, are required by building code since they stop sewer gas from entering your house. Replacing a damaged p-trap typically costs between $200 and $325.
However, this cost may vary depending on where you live. Expect to charge higher prices if you’re replacing a p-trap in areas with higher living costs.
How to estimate plumbing cost for new construction homes
Plumbing costs for a new home can vary wildly depending on several factors. Some factors that come into play when estimating plumbing costs for a new home are:
- Construction size: Larger homes naturally have more expensive plumbing costs. The national average for plumbing in new homes is $4.50 per square foot.
- Water fixtures: Fixtures include sinks, bathtubs, showers, and anything else that needs a steady supply of water. Customers can expect to pay anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 per water fixture.
- Piping choice: Piping costs may vary depending on the pipe’s material. PEX pipes cost between $5,000 and $21,000, while more durable copper pipes cost up to $5,000 more than PEX.
- Excavation: Connecting a home to local water and sewer lines can be unpredictable. Homes in zoned districts are easier to connect, while rural homes may require additional excavating to join the main water and sewer lines.
Commercial plumbing cost per square foot
Naturally, our research indicates that plumbing commercial properties are more expensive to work on, costing up to $6 per square foot.
Commercial properties typically have different plumbing requirements because of their much larger scale compared to residential properties. There’s a lot more work to be done when it comes to plumbing for commercial properties.
For instance, a residential property may only need two toilets, while a commercial building like a supermarket may need dozens of toilets.
Plumbing permits and building codes may also vary between residential and commercial properties – keep this in mind so you don’t get into legal trouble.
Free plumbing estimate worksheet
This estimate template makes it easier and faster to create plumbing estimates. This tool can:
- Help you win new and repeat business.
- Accurately estimate plumbing jobs.
- Work more efficiently.
- Simplify estimating for plumbers.
If you don’t see the download form, download template here.
Top plumbing estimate FAQs
Click the links for the answers to these popular plumbing estimate questions:
- How do I estimate plumbing a house?
- Do plumbers offer free plumbing estimates?
- How to bid on plumbing jobs
- What is the plumbing cost for a 1000 sq ft house?
- How much do plumbers markup materials?
How do I estimate plumbing a house?
The cost of plumbing a house depends on the work being done. In a nutshell, your plumbing estimate will be based on:
- The amount of time it takes you to complete the job.
- Your minimum hourly rate — even if you charge a flat fee per job.
- Materials, supplies, and equipment costs for the job.
Do plumbers offer free plumbing estimates?
Many plumbers advertise free estimates but giving estimates costs time and money — especially if a thorough inspection is needed. So, those costs could very well end up as part of the final bill a customer gets.
That said, drawing from our experience, you can give free estimates for more straightforward jobs that don’t require a site visit as long as you make it clear that you’re giving a ballpark figure.
How to bid on plumbing jobs
You can bid on plumbing jobs if the potential client sends you a request to bid. Whether your clients are homeowners or property managers, they’ll typically invite you to perform an on-site inspection of their homes or buildings first to see what kind of work you’ll be doing.
Once the inspection is finished, you can then send an estimate, which the prospective client will compare with bids from other plumbers. If your estimate is chosen, congratulations! You’ve landed the job.
But while most customers come to you for plumbing services, you can also be proactive when it comes to new construction. Try bidding on new commercial buildings or houses to win a plumbing installation contract.
A major benefit of winning this initial bid is that your company will likely be the first people they call for future repairs or projects.
Another great source for plumbing jobs is government contracts. These contracts require more work because the bid package needs to include a detailed scope of work, in-depth price information, and other relevant details.
Generally, there are two channels through which you can land government plumbing contracts:
- Invitation to bid (ITB): An invitation to bid calls upon local plumbing companies to do a certain job that’s already outlined in the ITB.
- Request for proposal (RFP): An RFP slightly differs from ITBs because the government expects plumbing contractors to submit a proposal of their plans to accomplish the job outlined in the request.
What is the plumbing cost for a 1000 sq ft house?
On average, rough-in plumbing for a 1000-square-foot house can cost up to $8,000.
However, this number will vary depending on what the client’s plumbing needs are. Naturally, more water fixtures and appliances mean more expensive plumbing fees.
When broken down, a 1000-square-foot home’s plumbing expenses could look like this:
- $4.50 per square foot for new plumbing construction.
- $0.50 per linear foot to repipe the home with PEX pipes.
- $3 to $8 per linear foot to repipe the home with copper pipes.
- $32 to $53 per linear foot to replace an existing water main.
- $50 to $150 per linear foot to install a water main.
- $1,000 to $5,000 to remove existing pipes in an old home.
- $400 to $1,800 per water fixture, depending on the appliance installed.
How much do plumbers markup materials?
Plumbers generally apply a 10-35% markup on their materials. The exact percentage will depend on the job’s value and how much they expect to profit from the job.
Generally, smaller jobs will have a larger markup because the plumber needs to justify the time and material spent and meet the expected profit margin.
However, you shouldn’t take the above markup values as a hard and fast rule. Depending on the area, markups can be higher or lower because of higher material costs and other factors.
Setting your prices too low will impact your profitability, while setting your prices too high may turn customers away.
A good rule of thumb is to compare your prices to another local plumber and try to compete with them without driving prices too low.
Image credit: Rawpixel.com via AdobeStock