How to find and choose a plumber

publication date: Jan 30, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

How to find and choose a plumber


There are three types of work required when carrying out plumbing jobs. It is really important to understand the difference as some require you to abide by legal rules, while others require you to use specifically trained and qualified electricians or gas engineers.

Connecting water for bathrooms and kitchens or repairing pipes
Anyone can connect water to a ‘public supply’. They don’t require any qualifications or to belong to any public or trade bodies. For further information have a look at the WaterSafe website.

Legal responsibilities of connecting water
Many people – and tradespeople – don’t appreciate there are rules you have to abide by if you want to connect pipes to the public supply. As the property owner the buck will stop with you, so make sure anyone who carries out work on your behalf takes on this responsibility in writing. This includes connecting up water pipes, repairing or putting in plumbing systems or appliances which use water, eg toilets or baths.

Legally, they have to ensure their fixtures and fittings satisfy the regulations. Most architects, building developers and plumbers should know the rules, but not all do. To make sure you have someone who does and will take the responsibility, use a WaterSafe-approved plumbing business.

They will give you a ‘work completed’ certificate issued by a WaterSafe-recognised plumber. This means you are protected should you be challenged by your local water supplier for not abiding by the “Water Fittings Regulations and Bylaws.”

Connecting gas and water, eg cooker or fire
This requires a Gas Safe Registered engineer 

Connecting electrics and water and gas, eg boiler
This requires a ‘Part P’ registered electricians who are members of specific approved organisations such as NAPIT (National Association of Approved Inspectors and Professional Testers). The benefits of working with an approved person from NAPIT is they have a ‘Work Quality Guarantee’ which means even if they aren’t in business any longer, NAPIT offers a warranty which ensures “your installation will comply with the appropriate industry standards for six-years from the date of completion.” To find a NAPIT-approved person for electrical work visit their find a tradesman, and to avoid a rogue trader, visit our checklist

Choose the right person with the right qualifications

The first job in choosing the right plumber is to make sure they are qualified either in the water bylaws, the water and gas rules and regulations or water, gas and electricity qualifications. This way they can provide the certificates you need to make sure all the work you have done on your property is done legally by people who are properly qualified.

Choose the person who is local
A plumber who sends their kids to the same school as you do, lives opposite or round the corner can be a great help. They are always around when you need them and, as long as you don’t abuse their trust and pay them fairly for their work, it should be fine.

It means when there is a problem you can call on them to pop round before or after their day job and they can find out what’s wrong with your property reasonably quickly.

Choose the person who provides a detailed quote
Unfortunately a lot of tradespeople aren’t good with quoting and paperwork. They tend to prefer the day-to-day hands on work. The tradesperson who does break down their labour and material costs in their quote is probably worth working with – at least they are organised enough to do it.

Guarantees and insurance
Find out what guarantees they have. What happens if something goes wrong? Do they have insurance? What happens if they go bust and work needs doing? NAPIT members for example have six years of guarantee to help you.


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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