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How to Price Plumbing Jobs: An Easy Formula to Create Fast Estimates

February 2, 2024 8 min. read
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Knowing how to estimate the price of a plumbing job can be the difference between a profitable job and one that costs your business money.

You need to know how much to charge for your services, how to estimate time on the job, and how to factor in material costs in order to stay profitable.

Keep reading to learn how to charge for plumbing work and estimate jobs faster to earn more money.

1. Calculate your hourly labor cost

Determine whether the job needs one or more plumbing technicians. Then, consider how long you expect the work to take. Multiply the duration of the job by the number of technicians required. 

For example, if a job takes 2 hours and requires 1 technician, the labor hours are 2 hours x 1 technicians = 2 hours.

To calculate your hourly labor cost, add up the hourly wage of each plumber, including taxes, workers’ compensation, and any other related employment costs. A markup of 20-30% is standard to cover these additional expenses. 

For example, if your hourly rate is $24, your formula would look like this: $24 + 20% = $28.80.

Then, multiply your labor time by your hourly labor cost to get your total labor cost. (2 x 28.80 = $57.60)

2. Estimate your material cost

For plumbing services, repairs, or installations that require extra materials—like fixtures, piping, or specialty tools—add the exact cost including taxes.

Here are some examples of materials to consider including for the following jobs:

ServiceMaterials you may need
Water heater installationWater heater, venting pipes, pressure valves, water and gas piping, thread compound, solder
Leaking pipeEpoxy putty, pipe clamps, slip coupling, replacement pipes
Clogged drainChemical drain cleaner, plungers
Emergency servicesPlumber’s putty, duct tape, washers
Burst pipeFittings, emery cloth, connectors

Here’s the formula to use:

(Sum of required materials costs) X (product sales tax rate) = (Total Material Costs)

To continue our example, let’s say the cost of materials to fix a clogged drain totals $47.62 and your state’s sales tax is 5%. This would make your total material costs $50.

READ MORE: How to bid plumbing jobs and win more work

3. Calculate your overhead cost

Overhead costs are the operating expenses you pay to keep your business running smoothly. These could include:

To calculate your hourly overhead costs, use the following formula:

Total monthly overhead costs ÷ # of billable hours per month

If your overhead costs for the month are $4,000 and you and your team produce 500 billable hours every month, your overhead costs would be $8.00 per hour.

Then, to calculate your overhead costs for a plumbing repair, use this formula:

Hourly overhead costs x # hours the job will take to complete

If you’re servicing a clogged drain and you estimate the job will take you two hours to complete, your overhead costs for the job will be $16.00.

4. Total your costs and add your markup

Add your labor, material, and overhead costs to get your plumbing cost estimate. This is what you’ll be spending on the job.

Using the same example below, our total cost formula would look like this:

$57.60 (labor) + $50 (materials) + $16 (overhead) = $123.60

Next, add your markup to the total cost estimate. Markup is how much you charge on top of your costs to earn a profit.

For example, if you want a profit margin of 25%, the cost of your job should account for 75% of the total price that you bill your customer.

To calculate the total price, use the formula:

Price = Cost ÷ (1 – profit margin)

Using the example above, the total price you should charge to achieve a 25% profit margin will be:

Price = $123.60 ÷ (1 – 0.25) = $123.60 ÷ 0.75 = $164.80

You’ll need to charge a markup of $41.20 on top of your cost of $123.60 to reach your 25% profit margin.

You can also enter your labor, materials, overhead expenses, and profit into Jobber’s service pricing calculator to find the total price of your plumbing job.

Additional pricing considerations for plumbers

Before you send an estimate to a prospective customer, make sure you’ve considered any other factors that may cut into your profits. 

Letting your customers know about these added expenses from the get-go can keep you from eating the costs when the job is done.

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Type of plumbing job

How much you charge for a plumbing job will depend on the type of service, and the tasks and materials required. 

For example, for plumbing installations, you’ll have to consider costs for:

  • Materials
  • Labor
  • Plumbing permits

Plumbing repairs, on the other hand, require costs for:

  • Diagnostic time
  • New parts
  • Labor

2. Added labor time

Your pricing may vary based on the scope of work, accessibility, or even the age or condition of the client’s plumbing system.

Take into account these factors when pricing your plumbing services:

  • The removal of garbage and debris from the job site
  • Correcting any existing plumbing code violations in old or neglected properties
  • Removing or replacing any deteriorated piping
  • X-raying floors or walls before cutting or drilling
  • Provision of backflow prevention devices where required
  • Opening, repair, or replacement of walls or ceilings required to complete work
  • Time required to shut down, drain, and refill water piping, etc.
  • Servicing pipes, fixtures, or equipment in hard-to-access areas

Always complete an on-site assessment before sending an estimate. This will give you a chance to examine pipes, assess their general condition, and determine how easy or difficult they may be to get at.

3. Plumbing permits

For larger, or more complicated plumbing jobs, you may need a permit to stay in compliance with local plumbing codes and regulations.

Permit requirements will vary by state, but most regions require a permit to:

  • Installing new plumbing systems for new constructions or additions to existing buildings
  • Replacing or upgrading a water heater
  • Upgrades to the piping on an existing plumbing setup
  • Moving plumbing elements, including pipes, fittings, and drains
  • Emergency repairs that  require fixing pipes of at least five feet in length
  • All work involving sewer line maintenance
  • Replacing old drain lines

Check your local government or state website to see what plumbing permits are required for your region.

If your project requires a permit, add the cost to your pricing formula, before applying your markup.

Average pricing for plumbing services

Here are the average price ranges for common plumbing services:

Plumbing servicePrice range
Water heater installation$850 – $1,700
Water heater repair$200 – $1,000
Fix a leak$150 – $450
Unclogging a drain$150 – $350
Toilet repair$150 – $400
Drain line repair$225 – $1,175
Water main installation$625 – $2,700
Faucet installation$150-$400
Repiping a house$350 – $2,100
Septic tank cleaning$300 – $600

How to create a plumbing estimate

Once you’ve calculated your pricing, you’re ready to create an estimate and send it to your client. 

You can write out your estimate by hand, fill in a plumbing estimate template, or use quoting software like Jobber. 

With Jobber, you can customize your quote design with your company branding, add the job details, and even include product photos.

You can also suggest optional services or premium upgrades, like more expensive faucet options—right on the quote. Your customer can select the option that best suits their needs and watch their total automatically update before they approve.

Plus, Jobber automatically sends quote follow-ups to customers you haven’t heard back from, so you can be sure you’re never leaving work on the table.

Quote follow-up message settings and SMS previews in Jobber

What to include in your plumbing estimate

Your plumbing estimate should include:

  1. Your business’s name and logo
  2. Your business’s contact information
  3. Your client’s name and contact details
  4. A quote or estimate number
  5. A breakdown of the type of service you’ll be providing, including materials and costs
  6. How long the estimate is valid for
  7. The total cost for the service, including taxes

With the correct information and a professional layout, your plumbing estimate can help you impress your clients and win more jobs.

If you’re just starting a plumbing business, knowing how to price a job will help you create estimates faster and win more work.

Once the job is complete, use Jobber’s free plumbing invoice template to send professional invoices in just a few clicks and get paid faster.

Originally published in March 2018. Last updated on February 2nd, 2024.

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