In major US cities like Detriot, over 10 percent of homes waste more than 90 gallons of water per day. Considering that Detroit residents pay $26.08 per 1,000 cubic feet of water, such leakages may translate to additional hundreds of dollar on your utility bill in a year. While a qualified plumber will help fix these damages and save you money, you should do your due diligence before hiring a professional in the city. As part of your inquiry, ensure to ask the following questions to determine the plumber is best fit for your project:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Detroit?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Detroit?
- Do You Comply with the City of Detroit Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Detroit Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Detroit?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Detroit?
Before offering plumbing services to city residents, plumbers in Detroit must obtain a plumbing license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). A plumber who offers or performs plumbing services without a plumbing license commits a misdemeanor, and such plumber will be liable to a minimum fine of $500, or a maximum imprisonment term of 90 days, or both a fine and an imprisonment term for a first-time offense. However, this penalty increases for subsequent offenses and fines can go as high as $5,000.
The LARA oversees the regulation of contractors across Michigan, including plumbers. Plumbers are classified into four categories, which are apprentice plumbers, journeymen plumbers, master plumbers, and plumbing contractors. While master, journeymen, and plumbing contractors are required to obtain a license from the LARA, apprentice plumbers are only required to register with the Department. To be eligible for a plumbing license, interested persons must meet certain conditions. These conditions include being at least 18 years old, having plumbing work experience, passing any administered license examinations, and paying the relevant licensing fees.
Note that the work experience required varies and depends on the plumbing license category in a person's application. For example, a journeyman plumbing license applicant must have a minimum of 6,000 hours of work experience obtained within no less than three years of being an apprentice plumber. Interested persons who have met the applicable license conditions can obtain the relevant licensing form and submit the completed form, along with any required documentation, to the LARA. Also, interested persons who have any license-related inquiries can contact the LARA at (517) 335-9700.
Note that plumbers who hold a master plumber or a plumbing contractor license are required to further register with the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED). For inquiries on this citywide registration, interested persons can contact the BSEED Licensing & Permits Division at (313) 224-3179. Residents can also confirm if their intended plumber is licensed by the LARA by utilizing the LARA license verification portal.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical charge rate of plumbers in Detroit is approximately $33 per hour. However, a plumber's exact hourly rate will generally depend on the nature of the plumbing work and the labor, materials, and permits needed to execute this job. As such, it is recommended that you consider different estimates from different plumbers before agreeing to any plumber's rates. Doing this will assist you with determining a reasonable hourly charge rate and a fair budget for your plumbing work.
A plumber in the City of Detroit earns an annual average wage of $69,130. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Detroit compared with plumbers in other parts of Michigan and other major cities in the country:Detroit Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$33.24Michigan Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$30.62Chicago Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$44.20Los Angeles Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.04Phoenix Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$25.87Charlotte Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$21.86Washington DC Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$27.93
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The 2015 Michigan Plumbing Code regulates all plumbing works across the City of Detroit and establishes minimum plumbing safety standards for these works. Particularly, the code ensures that the installation, alteration, replacement, relocation, and use of plumbing systems across the city are done without exposing city residents to plumbing hazards or health risks. Some of the plumbing systems regulated by this Code include medical gas systems, sanitary drainage systems, stormwater systems, sewage disposal systems, and water supply and distribution systems. Non-adherence to the Plumbing Code is unlawful and attracts different penalties, depending on the nature of the violation. Such penalties include the stopping of your plumbing work by the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) and payment of fines.
Therefore, it is recommended that you confirm that your intended plumber is familiar with the Plumbing Code before hiring this plumber. Inquiries regarding the provisions of the Plumbing Code and Code compliance can be directed to the BSEED Plumbing Division at (313) 224-3118.
A plumbing permit is generally required before any plumbing work can commence in Detroit. However, permit exemptions are made for faucet or valve repairs and clearance of stoppages, provided that these repairs or clearances do not require the alteration of existing piping.
The BSEED issues plumbing permits to licensed plumbers or homeowners, and eligible applicants can apply by mail or in person. For mail applications, applicants are required to obtain a plumbing permit application form and mail the completed form along with payment of applicable fees to:
- Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department
- Construction Division
- Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
- 2 Woodward Avenue
- Room 408
- Detroit, MI 48226
Applicants who are applying for a plumbing permit by mail can request assistance with making the required payments by contacting the BSEED Cashier Office at (313) 224-3202. For in-person plumbing permit applications, applicants can visit the BSEED Office at the above-mentioned address, request a plumbing permit application form, submit the completed form, and pay the required fees. Applicants can also make plumbing permit-related inquiries at this office.
After obtaining a plumbing permit, applicants are required to schedule an inspection before the conclusion of the relevant plumbing project. Particularly, applicants must schedule an inspection within 180 days of obtaining a plumbing permit, failure of which invalidates the permit. Applicants can schedule an inspection by calling (313) 224-3202, and inspections are typically conducted 48 hours after a request. These inspections are done to assess your plumbing project and determine whether it was done according to applicable City Codes.
For more information on plumbing permit applications and plumbing inspections, you can contact the BSEED Plumbing Division at (313) 224-3118. Alternatively, you can explore the BSEED plumbing permit FAQ.
Plumbers operating within Detroit provide different services to city residents, including plumbing inspections, consultations, installations, repairs, and maintenance. Depending on their client's plumbing needs, plumbers may even perform multiple services. However, when searching for a plumber, it is essential to find one with the necessary skills and specializes in plumbing services relevant to your plumbing needs. Generally, doing this ensures that you receive a satisfactory service at an economical rate. For example, apprentice plumbers can satisfactorily perform minor plumbing repairs like faucet and fitting installations and replacements at less expensive rates than journeymen plumbers. Similarly, for more complex plumbing works like gas repiping, it is best to engage a skilled journeyman or master plumber, as they are better skilled than apprentice plumbers.
Note that the cost for plumbing services varies and mainly depends on the type of service. Nonetheless, below are some common plumbing services in Detroit and their estimated costs:Bathtub installation$1,700 - $2,000Drain clog clearance$110 - $135Drain line video inspection$225 - $265Fuel tank installation$2,000 - $2,500Septic system installation$6,500 - $8,000Sump pump installation$750 - $1,100Toilet installation/repair$135 - $150Well pump installation$675 - $800
Plumbing problems are wide-ranged, and they include faucet leaks, frozen pipes, overflowing toilets, dripping showerheads, and clogged drains. Urgently fixing any plumbing issue in your home plumbing system is crucial, as this prevents more serious problems like excessive water bills and property damage. Considering a faulty irrigation system alone can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water monthly and potentially flood your home, the importance of urgently fixing plumbing issues cannot be overstated.
When searching for a good plumber near you for an emergency plumbing service, it is a good idea to ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Alternatively, you can check out third-party consumer websites like Better Business Bureau and Yelp. These websites have a database of plumbers that you can search by location. Upon selecting a plumber, you also see reviews from this plumber's previous clients, which you can utilize in making better-informed decisions. However, it is crucial that you first verify the license of any plumber you decide to hire. In this regard, you can utilize the LARA license verification portal.
As a condition for licensing, plumbers in Detroit are required to maintain workmen's compensation insurance, bodily injury insurance, and property damage insurance. The mandatory minimum coverage amount for each insurance varies and is typically stipulated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Accordingly, you can contact this Department by email for inquiries on the relevant insurance requirement your intended plumber must satisfy before handling your type of plumbing project.
Hiring a duly insured plumber is particularly crucial since this ensures that you are not personally liable for expenses resulting from injuries or property damage during your plumbing work. These work-related injuries are not unusual, as over 200,000 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses were recorded amongst construction-related workers across the country in 2020. You can confirm if your intended plumber is insured by asking this plumber to furnish you with the relevant certificate of insurance. For further confirmation, you can also contact the insurance company that issued the certificate.
A lot of considerations go into planning a plumbing project, as well as other types of home improvement projects in Detroit. An example of such considerations is how to avoid being a victim of a contractor scam. These scams are usually done by fraudulent individuals who claim to be licensed contractors and ultimately defraud homeowners. Besides impersonating licensed contractors, these fraudulent individuals usually present unsolicited bids and request high part payments but never begin or complete the project for which they were paid. For example, in January 2021, a Macomb County contractor was indicted on charges of contractor fraud, following a string of fraudulent schemes in which several homeowners across Michigan, including in the City of Detroit, were defrauded to the tune of over $25,000. In most of these cases, this contractor lied about being licensed, collected a high deposit or full payment for a home improvement project, and absconded.
Fraudulent schemes like this are not unusual in Detroit, and it is crucial to protect yourself from such schemes when planning your home improvement project. In this regard, you should take the following steps:
- Be wary of plumbers who offer unsolicited bids
- Ensure you verify the license of any plumber you plan to hire. You can do this by checking the LARA license verification portal
- Compare bids from multiple plumbers. This way, you are aware of the average charge rate for your plumbing project and can avoid excessive rates
- Avoid paying high part payments and do not make full payment for the plumbing project until the plumber satisfactorily delivers the agreed service. If the plumber insists on a part payment, pay only a fraction of the full payment and request a detailed breakdown of how the part payment will be used for the project.
- Get a written agreement. When hiring a plumber, ensure your agreement with the plumber is written and signed. Advisably, the agreement should contain a brief description of the plumbing project, the agreed pay, the agreed or estimated completion time for the project, and the plumber's duties
- Pay your plumber with a credit card, by money order, or check. Generally, avoid paying with cash as these are usually more difficult to prove in the event of any payment disputes
If you believe that you have been defrauded by a plumber, you can file a complaint with the LARA Compliance Division. For inquiries or assistance with filing this complaint, you can explore the LARA complaint filing webpage or contact the LARA Compliance Division by email or at (517) 241-9316.
You can also pursue direct compensation against this plumber by filing a small claims action at the Michigan 36th District Court. Note that only a maximum claim of $6,500 in compensation is allowed in small claims actions handled by this court. Therefore, before filing this small claims action, it is advisable that you contact a qualified attorney to seek legal advice and weigh your available legal options.