Setting a Realistic Plumbing Budget


When starting a new construction or renovation project you need to have a realistic budget set in place. Unfortunately due to the poor pricing that is being submitted at present by other trades at below cost prices, there is confusion over what is the right amount to budget for.


If your budget is too small, you shouldn’t be doing the project in the first place or you need to downscale to meet the budget you had in mind. You should be setting a realistic plumbing budget.


Get a minimum of four prices from each trade whether it’s doing a bathroom renovation or a tenancy fit out job. If you have two or three quotes that are within a couple of a hundred dollars of each other, you know that these are the quotes to go by.


Builders can’t always give an accurate guess at the cost of certain trades because they aren’t licensed to do that trade (plumbing and electrical in particular) and have no clue on fees for lodging the project to the relevant council if applicable.


Most commercial plumbers use an estimating program to price jobs. An estimating program has formulas set in place so that a plumber can scale off a plan (or use exact measurements from site) and enter the data into the computer which will calculate a fairly accurate estimate of how much it will cost to get the job done. Sadly plumbers aren’t taught this skill in Tafe and most rely on counting lengths of pipe and guessing fittings that they need which means they over price the job or most times under price it.



An under priced quote may sound great for the client because it’s not their fault the plumber didn’t allow for enough material or labour to do the job, but what ends up happening is half way through the project the plumber realizes his mistake and won’t go back to finish the job unless he gets more money or does a complete runner altogether, leaving the client with an unfinished project.


As a professional plumber I don’t know how many times I explain this to clients who have sadly got unrealistic plumbing budgets in mind. Realistically a bathroom renovation needs to have a budget of $15,000 and a kitchen approx $20,000. This includes a revamp of the services in the walls which would be recommended for houses over 15 years old. Of course, the price can be reduced by using cheaper materials or fixtures for example installing plastic pipe instead of copper but some plumbers choose not to install plastic pipe because they believe copper is a superior material.


Budgets are important and having a realistic figure in mind means you won’t get a nasty surprise when the quotes come emailing in. Be open with your plumber about the budget you have in mind. If a plumber is not confident in pricing over the phone or in person, wait for them to submit the price in writing. For a list of good plumbers in your area, contact the Master Plumbers Association in your state.