How to Hire a Good Plumber in Honolulu
Residents of Honolulu spend about $5 per every 1,000 gallons of water used, making it a city with one of the highest water bill costs per month. With a typical household expected to waste up to 10,000 gallons of water a year from undetected leaks and untimely fix of faulty faucets, smart homeowners in the city retain the services of qualified plumbers to ensure their indoor and outdoor plumbing systems are running efficiently. To find a reliable and competent plumber in Honoluly, ensure to ask these essential questions you before signing off on the contract:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Honolulu?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Honolulu?
- Do You Comply with the City of Honolulu Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Honolulu Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Honolulu?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Honolulu?
The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is responsible for licensing a wide range of professionals that wish to practice in Honolulu. More specifically, the Board of Electricians and Plumbers (BEP) under the DCCA is responsible for licensing plumbers in the city. Plumbers in Honolulu are licensed in two categories as per BEP guidelines. For each category, an applicant must pass an examination and meet the minimum requirements as stipulated by the BEP. The categories licensed by the BEP are:
- Journey Worker Plumber (PJ) - All applicants trying to become Journey Worker Plumbers must show evidence of five years of work experience, with not less than 10,000 hours of plumbing-related experience.
- Master Plumbers (PM) - All applicants looking to become Master Plumbers in Hawaii must have at least two years of work experience as a journey worker in Hawaii or another state.
According to Chapter 444 of the Hawaii State Statutes, regarding contractor licensing requirements, after licensing with the BEP, plumbers must register as contractors with the DCCA to do plumbing work in the state. Before employing a plumbing contractor, you should use the online license verification tool maintained by the DCCA to verify the plumber's license. If you have queries about contractor registration requirements or how to apply for a contractor license, you can reach out to the DCCA at (808) 586-3000. Other inquiries about plumber licensing in Honolulu can be directed to the BEP either by email or at (808) 586-2704.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Honolulu?
When hiring a plumber, you should take steps to ensure that you know how much the service would cost. This would enable you to plan and create a budget to cater for the plumbing work you wish to execute. The costs associated with hiring a plumber often depend on the type of work to be done, the fees related to obtaining permits, and the prices of materials to be used during the plumbing work. It is also good practice to cross-check rates and fees with at least three other plumbers in Honolulu. Cross-checking rates would ensure you are not getting scammed of your money.
A plumber in the City of Honolulu earns an annual average wage of $67,890. Below is a breakdown of the Average hourly wages for plumbers in Honolulu compared with plumbers in other parts of Hawaii and other major cities in the country:Honolulu Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$32.64Hawaii Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$32.52New York City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$35.78Houston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$26.71New Orleans Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$27.86Los Angeles Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.04Boston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40.46
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
All plumbing works across Honolulu must mandatorily comply with the Honolulu Plumbing Code. The Plumbing Code is designed to protect the public by creating a minimum standard for planning, installing, altering, or repairing plumbing and drainage systems across Honolulu. The Code also details the minimum quality requirements for plumbing materials that contractors and property owners can use for plumbing works within the city. Hence, to ensure that your plumbing project is in compliance with the Honolulu plumbing code, it is crucial to hire a plumber who understands the content of the Code and can implement it correctly. You can utilize third-party services like Yelp or Better Business Bureau to find competent, qualified plumbers. If you have questions about the code, you can contact the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Planning & Permitting, by email or at (808) 768-8000.
Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Honolulu Code?
The Honolulu Plumbing Code requires building permits to be issued for any plumbing work to be performed within the city. The City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning & Permitting (DPP) is responsible for issuing building permits for all plumbing works within the city. However, according to Chapter 18 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, building permits are not required for the following:
- Repair work of plumbing systems that do not involve replacing or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures in the city.
- Repair of a plumbing system performed by a licensed plumbing contractor, costing less than $1,000 within a 12-month period. These repairs must involve only the replacement of valves, pipes, and fixtures.
- Any plumbing project performed on behalf of Honolulu and in conjunction with the Hawaii Water Supply Board.
Keep in mind that the workload at the DPP, the need for a physical visit of inspectors and the nature of inspections to be conducted influence the time it takes to get a response. If you have any questions about building or plumbing permits, how to schedule inspections or apply for a permit and exemptions under the law, you can contact the DPP by email or at (808) 768-8000. Alternatively, you can visit the office of the DPP at:
- City and County of Honolulu
- Department of Planning & Permitting
- 650 South King Street
- Honolulu, HI 96813
What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
When looking to hire a plumbing professional, you should note that plumbers offer different services, including installation and repairs of new and existing plumbing systems. Depending on the nature of your plumbing work, you need to verify that the plumber you want to hire can perform the job effectively. Sometimes a plumber might not have the necessary staffing and expertise. After confirming that your intended plumber can perform your plumbing project, you should also collect and review pricing estimates about the plumbing work you wish to execute. Below is a list of some cost estimates for some plumbing works within the Honolulu:Plumbing remodeling$6,793 - $8,782Installation or Replacement of Toilet$239 - $256Clearing of clogged drainage, sinks, tubs, or shower$193 - $237Installation of bathtub$2,980 - $3,645Video inspection of a drain line$402 - $460Installation of gas lines$47 - $67Installation of septic systems$11,451 - $13,600.Cleaning or pumping of septic tanks$424 - $498Cleaning of sewer lines$270 - $412Installation of sump pump$1,325 - $1,905Installation of swamp cooler$3,628 - $3,886Installation or repair of water main$49 - $82Installation or removal of fuel tank$2,725 - $4,433Installation of water softeners$1,607 - $2,156Installation of Well Pumps$1,184 - $1,406
Considering the increased billing rates that happen due to water wastages, you should treat leaks, blocked drainages, broken pipes, faulty faucets, and generally any plumbing defect as emergencies. When these emergencies occur, it is advised that you temporarily stop the leakages and find a competent plumber near you to handle the situation. Such temporary actions include sealing the area up to avoid further damage. You can make use of third-party referral services like Yelp or Better Business Bureau to find a competent plumber near you. Alternatively, you can ask friends, family, or a reliable home improvement contractor for referrals. Upon finding a plumber to handle your emergency, remember to verify the plumber's license with the online license verification tool maintained by the DCCA.
The Hawaii Worker Compensation Law requires all employees of any business in the state to be covered by worker's compensation insurance. The worker compensation law ensures adequate benefits for all employees injured while performing a job, and these benefits include:
- Medical benefits, including surgical and hospital services.
- Temporary disability and wage loss benefits.
- Permanent partial or total disability benefits.
- Payments for deformities sustained on the job.
- Death benefits for fatal injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation for plumbers injured on the job.
However, besides ensuring your intended plumber has active workers' compensation insurance, you should also ensure this plumber has general liability insurance, although general liability insurance is not mandatory for plumbers in Honolulu. Hiring a plumber with general liability insurance will help prevent out-of-pocket expenses when an accident occurs during your plumbing work. You can confirm your plumber's insurance status by requesting proof of insurance. You can also contact the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Planning & Permitting, by email or at (808) 768-8000 with questions about insurance requirements for plumbers in Honolulu.
Before you hire a plumber, it is a good idea to research and inquire into the background and reputation of the plumber you wish to hire. Researching a plumber has many advantages, including helping you avoid getting scammed and helping you find the plumber with the expertise for your project. With several occurrences of contractor and home improvement scams across Honolulu, the importance of researching a plumber before hiring them cannot be overstated. One of such scams occurred in April 2021, when a homeowner was reportedly scammed of $30,000 by a fraudulent and unlicensed contractor. Since contractor scams can happen in different ways, you should take note of the following steps to avoid being scammed by plumbing contractors within the city:
- Avoid plumbers who go from door to door.
- Be wary of plumbers who offer suspiciously low prices compared to the price estimates you get from other plumbers.
- Walk away from plumbers who use pressure tactics. Also, do well to avoid plumbers that try to force you into paying upfront before the plumbing project is completed.
- Always retrieve recommendation letters from the clients of the plumber you want to hire.
- Never sign a blank contract, and always make sure that you document all the bids you receive.
- Consult with suppliers and financial institutions your plumber works with to ensure he has a good reputation.
- Only make payments using credit cards or checks. Credit cards or check payments can later serve as proof you made a payment to your plumber.
- Ensure you or your plumber have obtained the needed plumbing permits before the commencement of work.
If you encounter plumbers operating without a license within Honolulu, you can notify the State of Hawaii Regulated Industries Complaints Office at (800) 394-1902. You can also print and fill a Report of On-Going Unlicensed Activity Form and mail it to:
- Regulated Industries Complaints Office
- Attention: Consumer Resource Center
- 235 South Beretania Street
- 9th Floor
- Honolulu, HI 96813
Additionally, you can report plumbing contractors acting fraudulently to the Honolulu Police Department by filling the department's online complaint form. If you wish to recover funds from a plumbing contractor, where the claims are worth $5,000 or less, you can file a small claims case with the Hawaii Third Circuit Court. You can contact the Circuit Court at (808) 961-7515 with questions on how to file a small claims case. Since the small claims court allows for attorney representation, it is advised that you consult and retain the services of an attorney should choose to file a lawsuit.