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Licensed Plumber in Norfolk, VA

How to Hire a Good Plumber in Norfolk

If you suddenly see a spike in your water bill for the month, it is likely the culprit is a dripping faucet, loose showerhead, a faulty toilet, or a broken pipe. Considering that the City of Norfolk charges $5.68 per 748 gallons of water used, if any of these goes undetected or unrepaired for months, it may see you lose almost $400 at the end of year and wasting over 10,000 gallons of the city's water. However, hiring a qualified plumber would be a smart move to stop this wastage. Before you complete that move, ask the following questions to ensure you are hiring the best hand around for the job:

  • Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Norfolk?
  • How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Norfolk?
  • Do You Comply with the City of Norfolk Building Code for Plumbing?
  • Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Norfolk Code?
  • What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
  • Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Norfolk?
  • Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Norfolk?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Plumber in the City of Norfolk

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Norfolk?

    Before hiring a plumber in the City of Norfolk, you should always verify the licensing status of the plumber. The regulatory authority responsible for issuing plumbing licenses in Norfolk is the Board for Contractors of the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Bidding or taking on plumbing works without the requisite licenses is a misdemeanor punishable with a maximum fine of $500, and each day of contracting without a license constitutes a separate offense.

    The DPOR is responsible for issuing the journeyman plumbing license and the master plumber license to individuals who are at least 18 years old. To be eligible for these plumbing licenses, applicants must have completed an apprenticeship in an approved and accredited vocational school and must have acquired experience as an apprentice plumber under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master plumber. Applicants must also pass the required plumbing licensing exams conducted by PSI Exams Online. To be eligible for this exam, applicants must fulfill certain requirements. For instance, journeyman plumbing license applicants must have a combined four-year practical experience and 240 hours of formal vocational training in the plumbing trade or an associate's degree or certificate of completion from a two-year program in a plumbing trade field from an accredited school. Master plumbing license applicants must provide proof of one year experience as a state-licensed journeyman plumber or ten years experience to be verified by an attestation letter from a former employer or client. It is important to note that certain applicants are exempted from writing the exams at the discretion of DPOR. Examples of such applicants include individuals certified by the Board of Housing and Community Development before July 1, 1995, or enrolled in an apprenticeship program approved by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

    If all the requirements are satisfied, applicants can download, complete, and submit a Tradesman Exam and License Application form and pay the applicable fees to the DPOR at the address indicated in the top left corner of the form. In addition to this, applicants may be required to attach a letter of good standing to their application form. For more information concerning the licensing processes and requirements for plumbers in Norfolk City, you can contact the DPOR at (804) 367-8511.

    With an active Virginia State reciprocity program with the state of Washington, plumbers from Washington will not be required to satisfy certain requirements like sitting for a licensing exam before applying for a license in Norfolk. You can direct your queries regarding the reciprocity program to the DPOR at the number mentioned above.

    Residents of Norfolk City can utilize the license lookup tool provided by the DPOR to confirm the licensing status of their intended plumber.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Norfolk?

    According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that plumbers in Norfolk earn a mean hourly wage of approximately $24. What determines these plumbers' charges include the nature of the plumbing job, the complexity of the work, the cost of materials, and the expertise of the plumbers. This is why before hiring a plumber in the city, you should get bids and estimates from at least three qualified plumbers. This enables you to compare rates and go for the best price that suits your budget.

    A plumber in the City of Norfolk earns an annual average wage of $49,730. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Norfolk compared with plumbers in other parts of Virginia and other major cities in the country:

    Norfolk Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $23.91
    Virginia Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $24.75
    Oakland Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $51.01
    Atlanta Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $26.53
    New York City Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $35.78
    Detroit Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $33.24
    Houston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage
    $26.71

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Comply with the City of Norfolk Building Code for Plumbing?

    When looking for a plumber near you, hiring those conversant with the Plumbing Code provisions relevant to your project is imperative. The 2018 Virginia Plumbing Code applies to all plumbing projects in Norfolk, including the installation, alteration, modification, and maintenance of plumbing systems. It also stipulates standards aimed at ensuring the safety of residents when plumbing materials are used in the city. Hiring a duly licensed plumber who is knowledgeable about the Code ensures that your project is not in violation of its provisions. Violating relevant sections of the Plumbing Code applicable to your project is a misdemeanor and carries penalties of up to a $2,500 fine and 12 months in jail. For more information on the Plumbing Code, you can generally ask professional plumbers. Nonetheless, you can contact the Office of Code Enforcement of the Norfolk Department of Neighborhood Services at (757) 664-6510.

  4. Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Norfolk Code?

    Per the provisions of the Virginia Plumbing Code, plumbing projects in the City of Norfolk that involve the construction, alteration, repair, conversion, or removal of plumbing systems require permits. However, any plumbing work involving the replacement of plumbing fixtures and well pumps without altering water supply, distribution systems, sanitary drainage systems, or vent systems in the process does not require a plumbing permit.

    The Department of City Planning, through the Office of Permits and Inspections, is responsible for reviewing and issuing plumbing permits. A qualified plumbing contractor can apply for plumbing permits on behalf of a homeowner. To apply, the plumber can utilize an online E-Permitting Portal, which requires them to sign in to an existing account or create one with their valid license information. Once logged in, the plumber can complete and submit the relevant plumbing permit application form for review and pay the applicable fees. Note that if your projects require plans, your plumber will need to send all requisite plans for review in a single PDF via email. If the application is successful, the Office of Permits and Inspections will issue permits. In addition, the plumber also has to request an inspection online, and they must at all times make the projects accessible for inspection at different stages of the project. All queries relating to Norfolk permitting and inspection can be directed to the Office of Permits and Inspections at (757) 664-6565.

  5. What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?

    Plumbers in Norfolk offer a wide range of services in both residential and commercial structures. Irrespective of the services you need a plumber for, you should always ensure this plumber has the required expertise and experience. When you hire a qualified plumber, you have some assurance that the plumber will carry out the proposed project satisfactorily and comply with the Plumbing Code. However, ensure you find out how much your intended plumber charges for the proposed project to confirm if the cost is within your budget. Cost estimates for some common plumbing services readily offered by licensed plumbers in Norfolk are provided below:

    Plumbing remodeling or addition
    $4,500 - $6,200
    Toilet installation or replacement
    $150 - $180
    Clearing drain clog or blockage
    $135 - $165
    Bathtub installation for acrylic tub
    $2,000 - $2,500
    Drain line video inspection
    $280 - $350
    Gas line installation
    $30 - $50 per linear foot
    Septic system installation
    $7,500 - $9,500
    Septic tank cleaning or pumping
    $260 - $350
    Sewer line cleaning
    $180 - $290
    Sump pump installation
    $900 - $1,400
    Swamp cooler installation
    $2,500 - $2,800
  6. Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Norfolk?

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10% of homes waste about 90 gallons or more per day in the country. Considering how much water is wasted due to a simple leak, you should plug in any plumbing defects on time. Even though every plumbing issue requires a quick fix, some plumbing issues require emergency services more than others. Plumbing issues like burst pipes, clogged drains, worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaking valves require urgent attention. These plumbing issues can severely damage the home structure and pose serious health issues to residents. For instance, mold formed on home walls due to leaks can cause respiratory problems.

    When faced with plumbing issues like this, it is best to look for a qualified plumber who can attend to it urgently. You can find these plumbers typically via third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp. However, ensure to confirm that the plumber you are hiring is duly licensed. To do this, you can utilize the license lookup tool provided by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).

  7. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Norfolk?

    Plumbers in the City of Norfolk are not under any legal obligation to maintain a general liability insurance policy. Nonetheless, you should ensure your intended plumber is duly insured so that you are not financially liable for any bodily injury or property damage that may occur during the plumbing job. This is because plumbers are susceptible to several work-related injuries. In 2019, the country recorded 5,333 fatal work-related fatalities, of which 180 of these fatalities occurred in the State of Virginia. So when hiring a plumber in the city, you should ask for their insurance certificate and verify it with their insurance provider.

    It is important to note that even though plumbers are not mandated to carry insurance for themselves, plumbers with employees are required to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, failure of which attracts a fine of up to $5,000. Further inquiries relating to workers' compensation insurance requirements for Norfolk plumbers can be directed to the Virginia Worker Compensation Commission at (877) 664-2566.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Plumber in the City of Norfolk

Residents of Norfolk should always be careful when looking for plumbers to fix their plumbing issues. There are deceptive contractors who pose as qualified plumbers with the sole mission of defrauding unsuspecting homeowners. Some of the methods used by these unscrupulous individuals include posing as licensed contractors, door-to-door solicitation, shoddy work, requesting full payment before work starts, and stopping work midway. For example, in August 2016, an unlicensed contractor was arrested for defrauding several victims after receiving money for home improvement services but never completing the work as agreed. The unlicensed contractor conned at least 25 families across the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake.

To avoid falling victim to plumbing and home improvement scams in Norfolk, you should consider implementing the following tips:

  • Hire only licensed plumbers. You can confirm their licensing status online through the DPOR license lookup tool
  • Get bids from at least three different plumbers before selecting one
  • Request for previous work references from your intended plumber and ensure you contact the references to get work reviews on concluded works.
  • Avoid paying more than 10% of the total cost of service as a down payment
  • Do not make a final payment until the work is satisfactorily completed.
  • Keep a record of all documents, like receipts, invoices, and work contracts, related to the project.
  • Execute a work contract with the plumber.
  • Never sign any contract that you do not fully understand. You can also consider getting an attorney to help you review contracts before signing them.

If you have fallen victim to a deceptive plumber's antics in Norfolk, you can file a report by completing a complaint form provided by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). There are instructions at the bottom of this form to direct you on the submission processes. If you are not satisfied with the resolution or decision of the DPOR, you can file a civil action against the relevant professional at the Norfolk General District Court. However, it is important to get proper legal advice before pursuing legal action. You can find active lawyers in Norfolk by contacting the Virginia State Bar lawyer referral services at (800) 552-7977 or by email. Low-income earners in Norfolk can contact the Virginia State Bar legal aid at (757) 627-5423.