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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in the City of Tucson
In the City of Tucson, the average monthly water bill for a single-family residence is about $50, depending on the gallons of water used. Where your bill is far in excess of this amount, it is wise to hire a plumber to check for faults and leaks in your indoor and outdoor plumbing fixtures, Note, faucet leaks alone can add an additional 3,000-gallon water usage to your water meter annually, and a leaking irrigation system can add a 6,300-gallon water usage monthly. However, before you settle for any plumber in the city, ask the following questions to ensure the professional is the most competent hand for the job:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Tucson?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Tucson?
- Do You Comply with the City of Tucson Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Tucson Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Tucson?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Tucson?
- How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Tucson
Individuals who intend to perform plumbing works in the City of Tucson that require a permit or cost more than $1,000 are mandated to obtain a plumbing specialty contractor license from the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. As stipulated in Title 32-1164 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, failure to comply with this licensing requirement is a class 1 misdemeanor, with a minimum fine of $2,000. This penalty may get more severe for subsequent violations.
Plumbing licenses issued by the ARC are classified into residential licenses, commercial licenses, and dual licenses. Of the three license types, the dual license is the widest in scope, as plumbers who hold this license can perform any plumbing work. However, before applying for any of the plumbing licenses, an applicant must satisfy specific requirements. These requirements include being at least 18 years old, having at least four years of practical plumbing experience, and passing the required license examination. Applicants who have satisfied these requirements can apply for a plumbing license by submitting a completed application form and paying the required fees to the ARC. License applications are typically processed by the ARC within 60 calendar days, after which applicants will be notified of their application status. For further inquiries or assistance with obtaining a plumbing license, applicants can contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525.
You can confirm if your intended plumber is licensed to offer plumbing services by checking the online contractor search portal maintained by the ARC. You can also contact the Registrar at (602) 542-1525 for license verification inquiries.
Per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers in Tucson charge over $20 per hour for their services. However, this hourly rate may vary and typically depends on factors such as the type of plumbing work and the required labor. Nonetheless, when searching for a plumber near you, it is advised that you compare estimates from multiple plumbers. Besides helping you avoid unreasonable bids, comparing estimates also helps you determine the average cost for your plumbing job and how to budget for it.
A plumber in the City of Tucson earns an annual average wage of $50,840. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Tucson compared with plumbers in other parts of Arizona and other major cities in the country:
Any plumbing work performed in Tucson must be done according to the requirements of the city's plumbing code. This code is updated regularly, and the city currently utilizes the 2018 International Plumbing Code, which was adopted in 2019 with few local amendments.
The requirements contained in the city's plumbing code are provided to ensure that every plumbing work done within the city is performed safely and is with limited plumbing hazard risk. To this end, the code regulates the installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement of plumbing systems across the city, including the quality of materials used for any plumbing work. Regulated plumbing systems include piping systems and connections, sewage drainage systems, storm drainage systems, irrigation systems, vents, and water distribution and supply systems.
The Tucson Department of Planning and Development Services (DPDS) is responsible for enforcing the requirements of the plumbing code and determining the penalties for any violations of these requirements. Therefore, before hiring a plumber, it is crucial to not only ensure this plumber is licensed but also ensure that the plumber is aware of the plumbing code requirements relevant to your work. Doing this helps to avoid code violation penalties and comply with city stipulations. For more information on the city's plumbing code and its requirements, you can contact the DPDS at (520) 791-5550 or utilize the DPDS online inquiry form.
Before any plumbing work can begin within the City of Tucson, homeowners are required to obtain a building permit from the city's Department of Planning and Development Services (DPDS). Depending on the number of fixtures used in the plumbing work and the kind of plumbing work, homeowners may be required to obtain multiple building permits. However, certain plumbing works do not require a permit. Such plumbing works include stopping leaks in a drain or vent piping, provided no drain or vent pipe is replaced.
All permit applications, as well as the submission of any required plans, must be done online. After submitting the permit application and any required plans, the applicant can then proceed to pay the relevant permit fees, which are also paid online. Applicants are required to allow at least three working days for the DPDS to acknowledge and process their payments. After a successful permit application, the DPDS issues a building permit, which expires 180 days after issuance.
Note that you are also required to schedule inspections with the DPDS at different stages of your plumbing work. The required stages for these inspections are typically stated by the DPDS during or after the permit application. Inspections can be scheduled by calling (520) 791-3111, and homeowners can either schedule an on-site or a remote video inspection. To make inquiries regarding permit requirements, processes, and inspections, you can contact the DPDS at (520) 791-5550 or utilize the DPDS online inquiry form.
Plumbers in the City of Tucson offer several plumbing services, including the installation, maintenance, repair, and inspection of plumbing systems within the city. They also offer consultation services for residents who may want a professional opinion on how to best address their plumbing needs. However, when you need a plumbing service, it is recommended that you hire a plumber who specializes or is experienced in providing such service and can fit your budget. For example, plumbers in Tuscon who hold a residential specialty license typically specialize in handling residential plumbing works, while plumbers who hold a dual specialty license are usually more skilled in handling more complex plumbing works. Also, plumbers who hold a dual specialty license usually charge higher fees than their colleagues who hold a residential specialty license.
Note that the nature of your plumbing work and the required labor typically determine your expenses. Nonetheless, listed below are some common plumbing services and their cost estimates in the City of Tucson:
Currently, the average monthly water bill of a single-family residence in Tucson is $50 per 7,480 gallons. However, It is estimated that household leaks can waste approximately 10,000 gallons of water annually, thereby leading to higher water bills. Therefore, it is recommended that you immediately attend to any plumbing issue in your home, as even simple leaks can inflate your water expenses. Although all plumbing issues should be treated as emergencies, some require immediate attention than others. For instance, fixing a busted pipe typically requires more immediate attention than fixing a dripping showerhead.
You can find a plumber near you to fix your plumbing emergencies by exploring third-party websites like Better Business Bureau and Google Review. Alternatively, you can ask neighbors, friends, or family members. Nevertheless, it is essential to ensure that any plumber you intend to hire is duly licensed and has the requisite skill and experience to handle your plumbing emergency.
You can confirm a plumber's licensing status by utilizing the Arizona Registrar of Contractors' online contractor search portal or by contacting the Registrar at (602) 542-1525. To confirm if a contractor is skilled enough and has the necessary experience, you can ask the plumber about their area of specialization and request references from previous clients. Also, if you utilized a third-party website to find this plumber, you can browse the website's review section to check reviews from previous clients.
Before hiring a plumber in Tucson, it is essential to ensure this plumber has complied with all applicable insurance and bond requirements. For example, plumbers with employees must maintain active workers' compensation insurance, and every plumber must file a bond with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ARC). The required bond amount differs and is determined by the plumber's expected gross income for the year. However, plumbers are not required to maintain general liability insurance. While this is the case, it is advised that you hire only plumbers with active general liability insurance, as this protects you from personal financial liabilities resulting from work-related injuries. With over 6,000 non-fatal work-related injuries resulting from plumbing jobs across the country in 2020, this financial protection is particularly crucial to avoid claims for compensation by anyone who may be injured while performing your plumbing work.
You can confirm if a plumber has satisfied insurance and bond requirements by asking them for proof of coverage and bond filing. For general liability insurance coverage, you can contact the issuing insurance company for further confirmation. Likewise, for workers' compensation insurance confirmation, you can contact the Industrial Commission of Arizona at (602) 542-4661, and for bond filing confirmation, you can contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525.
Residents of Tucson who intend to hire a contractor for any home improvement project, including plumbing projects, are advised to be cautious and protect themselves from fraudulent individuals who act as contractors. These individuals go around the city preying on unsuspecting residents and scamming them of their money. While they have various scam techniques, some of their popular techniques include:
- Door-to-door solicitations
- Asking for high upfront payment or full payment before beginning work
- Giving very low work estimate
- Buying and using cheap materials
- Avoiding written agreements and pressuring you to hire them without allowing you to compare their bids
In 2019, an unlicensed contractor reportedly defrauded 16 people across Pima County of over $80,000 by requesting upfront payments from residents without starting the agreed projects. Similarly, in 2020, another unlicensed contractor defrauded a Tucson homeowner of $3,000, this time by also requesting an upfront payment but failing to complete the agreed project. There are many other cases of such scams. Therefore, it is crucial to always take precautionary measures to protect yourself from these scammers when planning your plumbing project. In this regard, you can do the following:
- Request a written contract. Ensure the agreement between you and your plumber is contained in this contract, including the agreed pay, agreed project completion date, and any other information you think is important. If you are signing an agreement presented by the plumber, ensure you understand the agreement clearly. You can also engage the services of an attorney for legal assistance and contract reviews.
- Compare estimates from multiple plumbers. Comparing estimates from multiple plumbers helps you determine the average costs for your project and relevant materials. It also helps you notice when a plumber is offering either high or low bids
- Verify the license of any plumber you intend to engage. You can verify a plumber's license by checking the Arizona Registrar of Contractors' (ARC) online contractor search portal or by contacting the Registrar at (602) 542-1525.
- Do not make high upfront payments. In some cases, an upfront payment may be necessary for your plumber to start work. However, ensure any upfront payment you make is a small part of the agreed total payment. Also, request a written and detailed outline of how the upfront payment will be spent on the project.
- Make payments with check, money order, or credit card. Payments made through these channels are traceable and can be effectively recorded, unlike cash payments.
- Ask the plumber to provide references from recent clients, preferably from clients who had a similar plumbing issue as yours.
Residents of Tuscon who have fallen victim to a plumbing scam or any home improvement scam in the city can report the incident to the ARC by requesting a complaint form and submitting it as guided on the form. Otherwise, residents can utilize the ROC customer portal. If you need assistance with reporting a scam or would like to make related inquiries, you can contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525.
Besides filing a complaint with the ARC, you can also file a small claims case against the relevant contractor at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court and request compensation. Note that you cannot claim more than $3,500 in a small claims case. Also, even though small claims cases do not require attorney representation, you can consult an attorney for legal advice on presenting your case.