2022 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.

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Table of contents

Why are estimates so important?

Simply put, your plumbing estimate could be the deciding factor in getting you a plumbing gig. Professional and detailed estimates give your customers confidence in your knowledge of the trade.

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.

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.

According to HomeGuide.com, these are the national averages for plumbing prices in the United States.

  • 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, 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.

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.

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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

A common question when it comes to estimating is: “Do plumbers charge for travel time?”. 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.

As a plumber, 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.

Permit costs

For smaller jobs like replacing plumbing fixtures, permits are not an issue. But you usually need permits for larger, more complicated plumbing work.

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.

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.

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!

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, the average cost to repair a leaking pipe is around $250 but the price can be anywhere between $150 – 850.

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, the costs to restore drywall can add another $250 – 750 to your plumbing estimate.

2. Replacing a burst pipe

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.

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. 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:

Repair Average cost
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. 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

Most customers will try to unclog a sink, bathtub, or shower themselves. When they call a plumber for simple obstructions, the cost 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.

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.

Free plumbing estimate worksheet

This free plumbing estimate example 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.

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Top plumbing estimate FAQs

Click the links for the answers to these popular plumbing estimate questions:

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, 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.

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