5 Tips On How To Avoid A Cowboy Plumber

Finding a good plumber for a household can be hard work. There are many highly qualified and experienced plumbers available, but there are also a large number of people offering their services as a plumber who do not have the right qualifications, and are in fact not allowed to offer those services to the general public.

Often known as cowboy plumbers, these ‘tradesmen’ are not only providing shoddy work and costing the homeowner a great deal more money in they are also putting occupants of the house at risk. Hiring the wrong plumber can mean risking death or serious injury, as well as financial loss. However, there are certain ways that homeowners can avoid these potentially deadly cowboys.

Tip 1: Always make the first contact.

Many cowboy plumbers have no business address, and tend to pick up their trade where they can, usually by knocking in doors, pushing leaflets through doors or even calling uninvited and then offering considerably lower prices than the competition. They may scout the neighbourhood for homes that are having other work done, or where people have just moved in.

Cowboy builders will only provide mobile phone contact, and will probably not even be listed in the Yellow Pages. Good, qualified plumbers from are usually too busy working to do this kind of leg-work, as they tend to rely on word-of-mouth and repeat custom, and in addition are likely to have land-line contact rather than solely using mobile phones. A landline number is a good sign. Never employ a plumber who turns up at the door without an invitation.

Tip 2: Get references.

When talking to plumbers about any kind of job, homeowners should always look for references and proof of qualification. They will usually be a member of an Industry Standard body, such as Corgi or the Competent Person Scheme. The latter is very important if the plumber will be dealing with the central heating system – legislation requires that installers are members of this organisation.


In addition, good plumbers will be able to provide two references, and usually more, which you will be able to check before employing them. Homeowners can also talk to neighbours, relatives and friends about good contractors. Cowboy plumbers will not be able to offer industry certificates, and usually only provide one reference, if that.

Tip 3: Get a firm quote.

It is standard practice for plumbers to offer homeowners a quote while they are being interviewed. Cowboy plumbers also follow this practice, and so in order to avoid being taken in by dangerous or unqualified contactors homeowners should watch for distinctive signs, including: offering a discount for cash, or not including a written quote. Good plumbers at will usually offer an itemized, formal quote on company paper.

Tip 4: Check for insurance.

Cowboy plumbers are unlikely to be insured, while businesses will have all of their plumbers protected. This ensures that both they and the homeowners are protected in case of accident.

Tip 5: Check their appearance.

Cowboy plumbers are less likely to be formally dressed, and may appear in jeans and a t-shirt, or as though they were dressed for a night out. Avoid plumbers who don’t wear a uniform to work.


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