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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in the City of Durham
Steady drips and small leaks can waste as much as 50 to 100 gallons of water per day for any resident in the City of Durham. With residents of the city paying as much as $6 per 100 cubic feet of water supplied, wastages like this may translate to additional hundreds of dollars in water bill liability. Therefore, hiring a qualified plumber in the city to stop such leakage will be a wise choice. However, before you finalize on contracting a plumber in the City of Durham, ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Durham?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Durham?
- Do You Comply with the City of Durham Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Durham Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Durham?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Durham?
- How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Durham
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Durham?
It is mandatory for anyone who intends to perform plumbing services in the City of Durham to be licensed. However, a license is not needed for minor repairs or minor replacements to an already installed plumbing system. Failing to comply with licensing requirements is seen as a Class 2 misdemeanor which can result in administrative fines and other penalties.
The North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors is responsible for regulating licenses in Durham. The Board issues different licenses classified into plumbing-class I contractor license (P-I), plumbing-class II contractor license (P-II), restricted limited plumbing contractor license (RLP), and plumbing technician license to eligible individuals. The requirements for each license vary and are listed below:
- Plumbing-class I contractor (P-I) and plumbing-class II contractor license: interested persons must have had two years of full-time on-site experience in the installation, maintenance, service, or repair of plumbing systems.
- Restricted limited plumbing contractor license: applicants are required to have 1,500 hours of full-time experience in the installation, maintenance, service, or repair of plumbing systems.
- Plumbing technician license: interested persons must have 3,000 hours of full-time on-site experience in the installation, maintenance, service, or repair of plumbing systems
However, one-half of the requirements for P-I, P-II, and RLP licenses can be substituted with academic or technical training. Interested persons who have satisfied these requirements can apply for a license online, pass the necessary examinations, and pay the required fees. Interested persons can also make inquiries regarding plumbing license applications by contacting the Board at (919) 875-3612 or via email.
You can verify if your intended plumber is duly licensed via the License Search portal maintained by the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Durham?
The cost of hiring a plumber varies, depending on the nature of the job. For instance, the average cost of unclogging a drain ranges between $120 and $150, while hiring a plumber to install a bathtub in your bathroom can cost you between $1,800 and $2,300. Hence, when hiring a plumber for a home project, it is advisable to get written estimates from various plumbers. This will help you find a plumber who can complete your project within your budget.
A plumber in the City of Durham earns an annual average wage of $48,720. Below is a breakdown of the Average hourly wages for plumbers in Durham compared with plumbers in other parts of North Carolina and other major cities in the country:
Do You Comply with the City of Durham Building Code for Plumbing?
The 2021 International Plumbing Code (IPC) regulates the design and installation of plumbing systems in all types of buildings, except detached one and two-family dwellings and townhouses that are not above three-story buildings. The goal of the Code is to protect lives and properties from the potential danger associated with plumbing systems and projects. The Code also covers general regulations and requirements for the identification of pipe fitting, pipe, trap, fixtures, devices and materials used in plumbing systems. Violating this Code can lead to administrative and civil penalties, including a jail term of up to 30 days. Hence, it is advisable to always go for a plumber that is familiar with the city's Plumbing Code to avoid Code violations and the relevant penalties.
Inquiries regarding the Plumbing Code and its requirements that relate to your plumbing work can be directed to the Code Enforcement Division of the Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department at (919) 560-1647.
Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Durham Code?
Section 10-48 of the Durham City Code states that a permit is required before any plumber can erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove or replace any plumbing system in the city. However, permits are not required for certain plumbing works, such as:
- Connecting a water heater that is being replaced in any type of building except in any one or two-family dwelling unit, provided that a licensed plumber performs the work.
- Installing, repairing, replacing, or altering any plumbing system costing $5,000 or less in any single-family residence or farm building.
Plumbing work done in violation of this Code is seen as a misdemeanor, and penalties include a maximum fine of about $50 and a maximum jail term of 30 days.
Plumbing permits are issued by the Durham City-County Inspections Department. To apply for a plumbing permit, an applicant must pay the required fees and submit a completed application online via the Land Development Office software. Note that depending on your plumbing work, your plumber may be required to submit plumbing plans together with the permit application. When the permit is issued, the permittee can commence the plumbing work. After your plumbing work begins, you are required to schedule inspections of the work that is being done. You can contact the Durham City-County Inspections Department at (919) 560-4144 to schedule an inspection. This inspection is usually carried out to ensure that the work performed complies with the City Code. Below are the types of inspection that the plumbing inspector must carry out:
- Slab inspection: this is done prior to pouring concrete.
- Rough-in inspection: this is done after all plumbing is in place and before covering with insulation or Sheetrock.
- Sewer inspection: this is carried out after connection is made to the city system and prior to covering the ditch.
- Final inspection: this is done after all plumbing is complete.
After a final inspection, you can apply for a Certificate of Occupancy, which proves that your plumbing work has satisfied the requirements of the Durham City Code and other city requirements.
Inquiries regarding permitting and inspection can be directed to the Durham City-County Inspections Department at (919) 560-4144.
Plumbers in Durham offer a wide range of services, and this largely depends on their license type. For instance, P-I contractors are licensed to do all plumbing works for all structures. In contrast, P-II contractors are only licensed to work on plumbing systems in single-family detached residential dwellings. Hence, before hiring any plumber, it is important to confirm that this individual is well-equipped and licensed to deliver the services you need. Below are some common cost estimates for plumbing services in the city of Durham:
Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Durham?
Every household plumbing issue, including leaky faucets, clogged sinks, and worn-out fixtures should be treated as an emergency because they can potentially escalate, become costlier to repair, and increase your water bills. For perspective, household leaks alone waste about 900 billion gallons of water nationwide annually. Considering that a leaky faucet can waste up to 30 gallons a day, and that's about $7 on your monthly bill, leaving plumbing issues unattended is not advisable as it can inflate your water bills and lead to you paying for unused water. To fix any plumbing emergencies in the home, ensure you hire skilled and licensed plumbers that can handle your plumbing needs as soon as possible. You can use the Find a licensed contractor portal provided by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors to search for qualified plumbers near you. You can also check third-party websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, ensure any plumber you hire is duly licensed by verifying on the License Search portal of the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Durham?
Plumbers encounter different risks that compromise their health and safety every time they do their job. Some common hazards plumbers experience are slipping and falling while working in heights, being hit by falling objects, exposure to hazardous chemicals, the danger of acquiring acne and burns, injuries caused by hand tools, and encountering rodents and contaminated water.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 186 fatal work injuries occurred in North Carolina in 2019, with about 39 fatalities occurring amongst construction-related professionals. Therefore, although plumbers are not mandated to be insured before operating in the City of Durham, it is recommended to hire only insured plumbers, as this will financially protect you against unforeseen damages and accidents that may arise from the project.
How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Durham
Home repair scams are generally prevalent in North Carolina, such that in 2019, the North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ) received about 1,215 home repair scam complaints from residents. These scammers use different methods to perpetuate their fraudulent acts, such as price gouging, asking for huge amounts upfront and either disappearing with the money or doing a shoddy job, and using cheap materials for a job and then charging premium prices for these materials. For example, a contractor in Durham County scammed elderly residents out of $2 million for projects that were left unfinished or never started. Therefore, all homeowners in the City of Durham are advised to be aware of how to protect themselves and their money from fraudulent plumbers and home improvement contractors. Some tips to note include:
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door offers.
- Always verify if a plumber you are considering hiring is licensed.
- Get contractor recommendations from people you know and trust.
- Ask for written estimates and compare bids from multiple plumbers before agreeing to any work.
- Do not pay a huge amount upfront. You can pay one-third of the total estimate of the project as upfront payment or as a deposit
- Avoid paying with cash. Make most payments with a check or credit card instead, as these help with tracing payments.
- Ensure that your desired plumber maintains valid insurance
If you believe you have been a victim of a plumbing scam, you can submit a consumer complaint to the NCDOJ Consumer Protection Division. Complaints can be submitted online in either English or Spanish. The NCDOJ typically reviews complaints by trying to mediate between consumers and businesses. However, NCDOJ does not provide legal advice, legal representation, or monetary compensation to individual consumers. If not satisfied with the decision of the NCDOJ, consumers can seek the help of a private attorney for legal advice or file a lawsuit at the Durham County Small Claims North Carolina Judicial Branch for matters involving $10,000 or less.