No Surprises and fair prices for over 20 years. The Owner a Master Plumber visits your house.
I work on owner occupied dwellings including town homes. Unfortunately I am unable to; do free visits to submit a bid, work on condominiums, or install owner supplied parts. For related article; Buying a faucet
I ballpark the jobs using a range of typically $150-$175/hour. My process and years of experience help me get jobs done far more quickly which keeps your costs down (a slower plumber, even at a lower rate costs more, I typically have the right parts in the truck). A unique benefit that I offer is that you get an idea of the final cost before the job starts. As there can be unforeseen circumstances on any job, the total cost cannot be determined until the job is done. My years of experience and integrity combined with effective communication is why I have so many positive recommendations and reviews from satisfied customers. Read more below to find more advantages and benefits to you that my approach offers.
Here are a number of additional reasons why you will benefit when you choose me to do your next plumbing repair.
- You don’t need to watch the clock, no stressing out!
- I have more experience repairing and maintaining the oldest homes in Minneapolis than you’ll find anywhere. I know how to do things, things that will work, tricks and techniques that help keep costs down.
- The finest quality parts last the longest (some, like my under-sink shutoffs may never need to be replaced again!) avoiding future expense.
- Whenever possible I suggest options to help keep your costs down (for example sometimes doing a little more this visit, can avoid another visit in the near future)
- Valuable, free information to my FAQ page to help save you costs, stress and time 24/7.
- My extensive use of technology (e-mail form here, texting pictures) help saves you time and cost by avoiding two visits when I can solve your problem in one.
- I focus on great customer service because I only do smaller repairs, replacements and upgrades, no large remodeling projects which is why I work so hard to make customers happy. The other benefit to you is my focus on service this enables me to be quickly responsive to your needs from a drain clog to a water heater replacement.
If you have a water heater that needs replacing, I am competitive on price. I install one of the best water heaters made. Not all water heaters are the same, even ones from the same manufacturer. Usually I have the customer send me a picture or two and gather information about their current unit, so I am able to provide an estimate over the phone without an on-site visit.
Having, me, the same Master Plumber, the owner, with my approach to long term relationships is one of the many reasons customers keep coming back year after year. The fact that I also perform any plumbing repair, water heater replacement, gas work, appliance replacement, and most drain situations is another significant benefit.
How I determine the job cost:
Most of the cost of a visit exists just getting a truck to the curb outside; overhead (licensing, parts inventory, truck, accounting, phone!, etc., etc.). Prior to every visit I need to discuss the job, many times the discussion takes 5-20 minutes over the phone. This is one of the many ways I am fairly unique by saving my customers money: By trying/helping you to avoid the cost (and your time!) of two visits to solve one problem. I also advise you if there are different options and their relative costs and benefits. And I always need to review this same information at the beginning of the visit. This discussion helps create happy customers because of my easy to understand explanations. What my customers enjoy is knowing before the work starts an approximate amount for the job. My many years of experience means I have the parts in the truck and am efficient at the work required (As opposed to many T&M guys. see below). Many times I can identify potential complications and explain them prior to the start of work, in this way I try to minimize the cost increase “surprises” during the job. ANY time I or any plumber is working on a home unforeseen circumstances can occur and change the scope of work and thus the final cost. With all of this said, most of the time your cost will be near my pre-start estimate if there are no complications or unforeseen aspects. The important thing to remember is that I don’t know the final cost of any job until the work is complete.
Minimum drain clearing: $175
If you are a price shopper you will always be able to find a sewer and drain service that will do it for less. I have significantly higher overhead due to being a Master Plumber. For more information see Master Plumber and Drain Technician. Subject to change without notice. There is a cost benefit to you when I am able to do a plumbing repair at the same visit because my truck is already at your home, etc.
Four ways plumbing service is priced
1) Estimate (The AthenaCare way)
- I ask questions over the phone to determine that the work fits my business; type of work required, the dwelling is an owner occupied, single family, duplex or townhouse, appropriate geographic location, etc.
- Water heaters: the process involves a few pictures prior to the visit. In this case I can typically provide an estimate over the phone that will typically be very close to the final cost when the job is complete.
- You and I meet at your home, for me to see your situation, discuss the details now that I can see the situation first hand and I provide a written estimate before I start the work.
- If you have a large job the following has helped out other customers; We decide on a small portion of the work or smaller job for which I can bill for my time. When I am at your home, I can then look at the larger project. Many times I have been able to save the owner considerable amount of money by suggesting they NOT do certain work or more cost effective ways of addressing their needs.
- If the project takes less time than I estimated, the customer pays less than the estimated cost. If the job takes longer or unforeseen aspects increase the scope of the work, the customer pays more. The reality? In the majority of cases, I am able to charge clients the estimated cost sometimes a little less. We both benefit by not stressing out, watching the clock! My goal with every customer interaction is to (a) have a satisfied customer and (b) get paid enough for my efforts that I stay in business.
- You the customer know in advance a ballpark cost for the work described. I call this a “reasonable/optimistic”. If the job takes less time, than the cost will be less than the estimate. I have been doing this so long most of the time the cost of the job is about the same as the in advance amount. If additional work or parts become necessary I will show you and explain why. ANother benefit of my extensive experience is that I explain these possibilities before the job even starts.
- You are hiring a person that will never talk you into performing unnecessary work. The biggest reason that I believe my approach is unique is that I always advise my customers how to avoid unnecessary costs. Many times this involves NOT doing work on a visit, on occasion it is to add a task or parts because this is the least expensive time to do it, it will be needed soon, etc. This approach saves my customers more money and brings more long-term affordability than any other approach.
- You deal with the same person at every step of the process from the first phone call to the work being performed.
- The owner of the company works on your home.
- This company is unique in the number of ways it utilizes technology to assist you by facilitating the communication process directly to the owner from the first inquiry to the actual service visit; e-mail inquiry form, texting, voice calls.
- You get a Master Plumber for every visit
- You are hiring a way of doing business that has largely disappeared. I advise my customers and perform work in the most cost effective manner possible.
- You are hiring a person that leaves 10’s or thousands of dollars of customer money in their pocket every year, by offering information and ideas of which potential repairs don’t need to be done, can wait or when is the most cost effective time to get them done.
- You are hiring a plumber who will perform a small extra service or provide extra information at no charge.
- My “educational videos”, FAQ articles and my pre-visit approach almost always results in having the parts on hand at the first visit, saving the dollar cost, and scheduling hassle, of two visits.
- Compared with the flat rate pricing of the huge guys, the cost is always going to be less. I’m so confident of this that I’ll make limited time offer; If you have a visit from a flat rate pricing company for a plumbing job, keep a copy of their estimate, pay them their trip charge (to which they are entitled), and call me. After I’ve completed the necessary work, give me the original flat rate estimate paperwork.
- If I am able, and frequently do, offer extra no charge, value added information.
- You are hiring a plumber who has spent countless hours personally writing and posting to this site, helpful information to save you time, money, stress, and in the event of a leak, limit damage to your home available 24/7.
2) Time and materials (T & M)
The service technician keeps track of the time the job required and multiplies that by an hourly rate. The cost of parts used in the job is added in to the labor cost.
- The customer has no idea how much the job will cost until presented with the bill at the end of the job. Surprise! Or you have to battle with them about how the time was calculated after you get the bill.
- The less experience (or less talent) means it will take them longer to perform the job. You are now paying more because, in my opinion, you are funding his training. Not only that, but you, in effect, are encouraging them to take the slowest or most involved approach to solving your problem. Remember, many plumbing companies reward and certainly all monitor how much revenue their plumbers generate every day, every week. And remember that if you pick the guy with the lowest price per hour and it’s not until he is in your house and you’re committed that you suspect he is taking forever to perform the work, where are you then? Stuck.
- They give you a low ball quote over the phone. Once inside your home, in the middle of the job, many times they’ll say ‘I didn’t know I would run into this, that, or the other thing, so…’
- Two plumbers that I’ve seen operating this way carry nearly no parts in their truck. Correct: they get paid more for every job because they did not spend hours upon hours and huge expense installing, stocking and keeping shelves stocked with the parts most likely to be needed for your 1920’s or newer Minneapolis home. Next time someone offers T & M, look in their truck before authorizing the work!
- If (when) they have to travel for parts, you have no idea of how long that should really take, whether they add time by making another stop along the way, etc.
- Many different aspects can increase the amount of time required: unforeseen complications, technician does not have all of the parts with him (remember the non-stocked truck?), etc. Some companies have been known to use minor complications as an excuse to run up the bill.
- Many companies pay the technician (plumber) a commission. How do you think this influences the process?
- What if the tech receives a cell phone call during the job? Did he charge you for that time?
T & M, I believe, has the result of being stressful for both the technician AND the homeowner due aspects like those listed above. It also has the potential for conflict at the end of the job and a high probability that the process will result in an unsatisfied customer.
3) Flat rate pricing
The service technician has a book of various services and the price for each. The sales pitch is the guarantee that no matter how long it takes in the course of the work the cost of the job will not exceed the price agreed to by the customer before the work starts. This is great in theory, if something major goes wrong. But most of the time the job takes a relatively short amount of time and the bill is exactly to what you committed, typically a VERY large job cost. Consider these items;
- Toilet problem. Technician quotes a price, homeowner agrees. Technician completes job in a very short period of time, which means the homeowner paid a huge hourly rate. Result: unhappy customer. In 2016 I have learned that the largest companies are estimating their job costs using an hourly rate of 200% or GREATER than mine when calculating this amount.
- They always replace fixtures (e.g. toilets, faucets), never repair. They provide various reasons, but the bottom line is that you pay significantly more than if the fixture was only repaired.
- The typical “estimating” scenario involves the technician providing multiple levels of work at greater and greater (i.e. astronomical to mind-boggling) amounts so that the lowest, even if ridiculous seems acceptable. For instance I asked a young homeowner about who did the work and how much it cost for a new tub drain mechanism and piping and the amount was ridiculous, but they explained that it was less than the other two amounts quoted. I didn’t have the heart to tell her what I typically charge.
- The technician gets a COMMISSION on the total job cost. How do you think this influences the process?
4) Home Warranty
You pay a monthly fee, forever. This is a fantastic deal for the company providing the service because their business model necessitates making a profit (paying out less than you are paying them) AFTER they have paid for all of their staff and overhead to advertise, hire and manage subcontractors (that also need their own office staff/overhead). My analogy is visiting a casino. On any given random visit you might win at roulette. Over a long period of time the house ALWAYS has the statistical advantage.
- They allow you to place the cost of a water heater on your bill interest free.
- If you have an event that is covered by the warranty you pay little or nothing. This in my opinion is the tease/carrot to get people to sign the contract
- You pay every month year in and year out and it DOESN’T cover what you need done!
- It takes them forever to get you on the schedule.
- You are paying month in and month out hoping you will have a repair event that is covered.
- A customer recently told me she had to wait a week for furnace service in cold weather. She told me about this when I was repairing a leak above the water heater that was not covered.
- Read some of the Google reviews.
- When you have the home warranty company replace your water heater, you are giving them the largest and best job the average home will ever need. They will not do any of the variety of small plumbing jobs your home will require. If you were a plumber and your schedule is tight which customer would you make room for; the one who is loyal and gives you all of their work because they understand the value to of a long-term relationship is a two way street, or one who doesn’t?
- All water heaters are not created equal, even from the same manufacturer. You are going to get a lower quality unit because they save money knowing that the vast majority of homeowners do not believe this statement.
- They make money by replacing major items. I have had a customer tell me they recommended replacing an 8 year old furnace (30 year life expectancy)
- When you finally do have an issue they might cover, there is usually a clause which prevents them for having to provide service. If this happens, then you end up in a stressful battle and they still won’t pay (As related to me by a home owner). If you ran a company that stayed in business only by collecting more every month than you needed to pay out, you’re incentive is to not pay out whenever possible.
- You will never see the same service person at your home. That technician does not have your long term interests in mind.