Plumbing Bidding Guide: How to Prepare Accurate Estimates

Plumbing is one of the most essential home systems. Homeowners are often sensitive about plumbing issues, making the demand for plumbers and good plumbing skyrocket.

However, competition in the market is intense. Data shows over 480,600 licensed plumbers in the U.S. This number is expected to grow by 15.6% by 2026.

So, how can you stand out from the rest in such a heated field? By creating compelling bids and accurate estimates for your jobs.

Some strategies to prepare accurate estimates include knowing how to price a plumbing job, understanding the customer’s requirements, making a case for your business, and understanding your staffing needs.

Here’s how you can bid and provide accurate estimates for a plumbing job.

The Different Kinds of Bids for Plumbing Jobs

There are three different kinds of bids you may have to make for a plumbing job. They are:

Remodel Plumbing Bid

This kind of bid may be for commercial or residential clients seeking to remodel an entire building or a specific room that contains a lot of plumbing. This room may be the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room.

Before making a remodel plumbing bid, you must ask for a pre-bid meeting and a site walkthrough to examine the building or room and understand the client’s needs. This way, you will better understand the materials and labor you need for the project.

Plumbing Service Bid

Government agencies or property managers may issue a request to bid for plumbing services to award a plumbing contract to a plumbing company. Once you’re awarded a plumbing service bid, you become the responsible party for the client’s plumbing needs until the end of the contract.

New Construction Plumbing Bid

Commercial clients and residential builders are the most common source of new construction plumbing bids. These bids need the highest consideration during bidding since you have to plan and install brand-new plumbing equipment and ensure the new building has a robust plumbing system installed with clean running water.

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Factors That Affect Plumbing Estimates

Plumbers typically charge hourly rates, though a few particular jobs have a fixed rate. Despite the type of billing being used, the actual cost of household plumbing will vary depending on the project’s sum of labor, material, and overhead costs.

Your hourly rate determines the labor and material costs by the contractor’s markup, and the overhead costs include extra charges put on the labor and material costs.

Here are some of the critical factors that will affect your plumbing estimates:

The State of the Site

The state of the site for the plumbing job will heavily dictate the cost of the work. Therefore, your estimate should be based on the state of the job site and how much time, effort, equipment, and materials will be needed to complete it.

Policy and Preference

Some plumbers offer free estimates, while others charge a service or trip fee for the home visit.

Cost of Fixtures and Material

The cost of fixtures and materials will directly impact the final cost of the estimate. You can offer the client various options at various prices to expand their options and create a more flexible estimate.

Cost of Permits and Other Supporting Work

Some plumbing jobs require permits, while others require supporting work such as debris removal and concrete work. These jobs and licenses add to the final cost of the estimate.

Number of Billable Hours

For an accurate estimate, you should be able to approximate the number of billable hours it will take to complete the project. Typically, you’ll want to add 20-30% of the estimated time to account for distractions, breaks, and unforeseen issues during the project.

Staffing and Crew

Big jobs will require a large staff and crew to complete. You need to price the additional staff and team per head with an extra on top to account for unforeseen circumstances.

It’s essential to visit the site first and understand the client’s expectations before estimating the human resource you’ll need and how much it will cost.

Tips for Bidding for Plumbing Jobs

Here are some best practices and principles you should consider when bidding for plumbing jobs.

Understand the Customer’s Expectations

Putting up a bid and providing the customer with an accurate estimate takes a lot of work. In most cases, you’re doing this work for free without guaranteeing you’ll win the bid or receive goodwill compensation.

Therefore, ensure an intimate understanding of the client’s expectations to give yourself the best chances for success. Of course, these expectations will vary across clients and depend on the bid size.

For instance, if you’re bidding on a large government contract, they’ll expect an extremely detailed proposal compared to a homeowner requiring a small plumbing project. The latter will be satisfied with a modest verbal estimate.

Price Your Materials Precisely

Materials are one of the highest costs in a plumbing estimate. Therefore, you need to be accurate with your pricing and ensure you’re giving the client the best prices possible to lower the project cost and improve your chances of securing the bid.

It’s also important to consider the needs of the client. One may be flamboyant and willing to spend on top-end material and fixtures that offer all the bells and whistles. Another one may be more conservative and budget-oriented, looking to save as much money as possible.

Make a Case for Your Business

Not all customers will take your bid as presented. You’ll have to defend and justify your labor costs, material and fixture costs, and overhead costs on the estimate. It would help if you remembered that you’d not be the only one making the bid.

Therefore, your bid has to stand out.

You can make your bid stand out by showing that you care about the customer’s needs and are eager to earn their trust. You can do this by ensuring your proposal is very thorough and professional, with attention to detail at every level.

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Use Software to Generate Accurate Bids and Estimates

Creating accurate bids and estimates will win you a lot of business in the plumbing industry. However, manually creating such an accurate forecast can be time-consuming and challenging. Therefore, go for a plumbing bids and estimates software solution that consistently develops accurate bids for you with proper and best pricing for materials and fixtures.

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