Plumbing is one of those jobs that needs specialist knowledge and tools; otherwise, you can forget DIY. It’s perfectly legal to do routine plumbing jobs yourself, and you don’t need special qualifications except the ability to do the job. However, you must follow the UK Water Regulations and the requirements of the UK Building Regulations. Alternatively, use a qualified and registered tradesman.
A plumber’s hourly rate ranges from £40-£60hr with an average of £50/hr. If you have an out-of-hours water leak, a plumber’s call-out fee can be £100. Additionally, you’ll be charged at the emergency plumbers rate of around £80-£120/hr, twice the regular hourly rate. So, if you don’t want to pay a plumber’s call-out charges, turn off the water at the mains stop-cock and wait until morning to call in a professional.
This pricing guide highlights some typical jobs suitable for a plumber. Based on these hourly rates and the cost of materials, we can calculate the overall cost you’ll find in a standard plumbing quote. We also discuss the regulations covering plumbing and how you can find a competent and experienced plumber.
Plumbers Price List*
Plumbers handle many types of work, from repairing leaky taps to installing leadwork on a roof. You might think that plumbers also install central heating boilers. But you’d be wrong. In the UK, only registered heating engineers are allowed to install boilers. Therefore, we won’t touch on this aspect in this guide.
The list of plumbers’ prices below shows many typical jobs tackled by general plumbers in the UK. You can compare the tasks and use them as a benchmark to calculate plumbing costs.
|Plumbing Task||Estimated Cost|
|Toilet replacement||£200 to £800|
|Unblocking a toilet||£50-£90|
|Shower installation||£200 to £1300+|
|Shower tray repairs||£150 to £300|
|Unclog shower drain||£50 to £80|
|Replace a bathtub||£180 to £3500+|
|Replace a hot or cold tap||£80 to £150|
|Replace new radiators||£100 to £800|
|Repairing a leaking radiator||Up to £130|
*We compiled these rates from various sources. Every house is unique, so use the data to guide your research. Prices always vary depending on where you live in the UK. Therefore, labour rates in London and the Southeast are generally 20% more than in other parts of the UK. Always contact a local plumber if you want an accurate quote. Alternatively, complete the form on this page, and we’ll ask a qualified plumber to contact you.
Usually, it’ll take a plumber around two hours to replace a toilet, so the variable factor is the price of the toilet, cistern and the various accessories. The toilet must connect to the drainage pipe, and a fresh water supply to flush the pan. The most straightforward toilets have close coupled cisterns which cost from £100-£200 to buy, plus £100-£200 to fit. In contrast, the most expensive toilets have wall-hung or hidden cisterns. These cost about £350-£400 to purchase, with labour charges from £300-£400.
Unblocking a toilet
As long as a toilet blockage is above ground, a plumber can fix it. In comparison, drainage specialists sort out underground blockages. Typically, a toilet blockage takes up to two hours to fix, so the charge is £50-£90, assuming the plumber doesn’t charge for a minimum number of hours.
The three cheapest showers to install: Mixer, Electric, and Thermostatic, cost £60-£300 to buy materials and £150-£250 to install. In comparison, more expensive types like Power and Digital showers cost £200-£1000 to purchase and at least £300 to install.
Shower tray repairs
Over time, many shower trays become damaged or cracked and let water through. Depending on how long you’ve had leaks and where in the house the water travels to, you could have serious repairs to cope with, in addition to the shower tray repair. Assuming nothing else needs repair, the leaky shower tray costs £150-£300 for labour. Remember, you might find it difficult to repair some types of shower tray material. If so, it’s cheaper to replace the tray rather than try to mend it.
Unclog shower drain
This is a common problem usually caused by human hair, soap, and dead skin blockage. Although this sounds distasteful, it’s relatively easy to use a DIY product to unblock the drain or to prevent a blockage in the first place. As a last resort, you can call a plumber who charges £50-£80, excluding minimum charges.
Replace a bathtub
There are many bathtub materials available, from cheap acrylic at £100-£250 to natural stone at £300-£3000, or a walk-in bathtub costing £1500 upwards. The labour charges depend on the type of bath as some can be very heavy and require two or more people to install. However, a standard bathtub costs £60-£150 to install, excluding fitting tile surrounds and bath panel.
Replace a bath, basin or sink tap
The cheapest taps cost £15-£60, while the most expensive cost £60-£200. Generally, they all cost the same to install, around £50-£60, unless they need new water supply pipes or drainage, in which case add on another £20-£30.
Replace a radiator
You can buy cheap radiators for as little as £50 or as much as £400-£600. In comparison, the installation cost can range from £50-£200, including removing the old radiator.
Repairing a leaking radiator
Repairing a leaky radiator can be as simple as tightening a connector or adding a sealing compound to the central heating system water. Anything more serious will require a replacement radiator. Therefore, expect a leak repair to cost no more than £130, excluding any minimum charges.
Plumbing Cost Factors
When you receive a plumber’s quote, the amount takes into account many different factors, of which the following list describes the most common.
Do we have an emergency on our hands?
Whether a plumber charges extra for out-of-hours or emergency work is up to them. Although you might think the additional charges are unnecessary, most plumbers have a reasonable call-out charge, based on the
- Inconvenience to their personal life.
- And that they might have to rearrange their normal work schedule to accommodate your sudden emergency.
Typically, an out-of-hours hourly rate is twice the standard rate, so could be between £80-£120. Plus, you might have to pay a call-out fee of around £100 and sometimes mileage too.
The cost of living varies quite considerably across the UK. Therefore, you find that labour charges in Southeast England can be up to 20% more than in some other parts of the country. Before you agree to use a plumber, it is usually best to get a quotation. However, if there’s an emergency, this is not always feasible. In this case, phone and ask about their hourly rate, call-out charges and approximately how much the job will cost.
All jobs take varying amounts of time to complete. But experienced plumbers will know approximately how long it takes to do a specific job, say changing a tap or replacing a toilet seat. Furthermore, don’t blindly add up the charges shown in the list above for each item. If you have a large job, perhaps entirely renovating a bathroom, the plumber will charge you based on the total time, not individual components.
In almost all jobs, plumbers will invariably use materials, whether those are lengths of copper pipe or taps, sinks or radiators. The quantity and quality of these vary depending on your preference and budget.
Age and condition of your property
Old properties and those without regular maintenance will need more plumbing repairs than new properties. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to have regular plumbing inspections to avoid a large bill in one go.
Some properties, specifically old buildings, might have plumbing awkward to access. In cases like these, a minor job might take longer and cost more than you imagine.
Jobs such as moving a kitchen sink or bathtub might require additional waste pipes or underground drains. This will add to the overall cost of the job.
Plumber Hiring Checklist
When looking for a plumber for your project, decide on some questions about their experience, qualifications and trading history.
Whether a large company or a self-employed tradesman, a reputable plumber will have public liability insurance. This insurance protects against damage and injury caused by the plumber’s work. Ask for the insurance company’s phone number and policy number to confirm the policy hasn’t expired. All insurance companies that deal with public liability insurance have a department to deal with tradesman confirmation, so there’s no need to be nervous when contacting them.
Ask how long they’ve been in business and whether they have any references. Always choose local well-established firms or well-known national companies.
Registered with a trade association?
Check that the plumber is a member of a relevant trade association. You can find a list of UK trade associations if you follow this link. But, most domestic plumbers would belong to:
- The Association of Plumbing and Heating Engineers (APHE).
- The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE).
- The Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF).
Competent Person Register
Ask if the plumber is on the local authority’s Competent Person Register. Although it doesn’t mean they aren’t a qualified plumber, if they aren’t, a Competent Person can self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations.
How about local authority permission?
A qualified plumber will understand the UK Water Regulations and how they relate to the Building Regulations. However, you are the person ultimately responsible for non-compliance with the various regulations, so check with the local authority even if a plumber says the work should be okay.
Plumber Certifications & UK Regulations
A qualified plumber must pass a recognised apprenticeship or study to
- NVQ Level 2 or 3 Diploma Plumbing and Heating.
- NVQ Level 2 or 3 Diploma Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems.
Competent Person Scheme
If you can find a plumber who belongs to the Competent Person Scheme, you know they are good at their job. The Competent Person Scheme is a joint venture between the UK Government, the Local Authorities and Plumbing trade associations. The scheme provides a searchable database of qualified and competent plumbers who can self-certify their work as complying with the UK Building Regulations.
The UK Water Regulations
All plumbing work in contact with mains water must comply with the following regulations depending on where in the UK you live:
- Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations1999.
- Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.
- And The Water Supply (Water Fittings) (Scotland) Byelaws 2014.
These regulations prevent the mains drinking water from becoming contaminated or wasted by safeguarding water quality, encouraging water efficiency, and reducing leakage.
Water Regs UK is the authorised body that helps water companies and plumbing professionals by promoting the regulations. The company also provides a contractor database for WIAPS approved plumbers, licensed to work on mains water.
UK Building Regulations
All water installations must comply with the UK Building Regulations Approved Document G. This document provides guidance on the water supply to a property, water safety and quality, hot water supply, water efficiency and sanitation. It also provides guidance with hot water boilers that need safety precautions. If you use a plumber from the Competent Person Scheme, they can self-certify their work and issue a Building Control completion certificate. In practice, the Building Regulations meet all the installation requirements of the Water Regulations. Except for those sections dealing with water contamination caused by manufacturers producing substandard fittings.
It’s a good idea to have all plumbing and associated work done by a registered and experienced plumber. If necessary, have a Building Control Inspection certificate issued by a qualified inspector or a self-certifying Competent Person.
Although the services of a plumber cost more than most tradesmen, they are qualified to work on mains water systems and central heating circuits. It’s their knowledge that you’re paying for.
Complete the form on this page, and we’ll ensure up to four qualified contractors will send you a quotation for your property’s plumbing work.