Plumbing Costs Estimates: From an Install to a Pipe Repair

A Guide to Estimating Plumbing Costs

Whether your shower is leaking, your toilet needs replacing, or you’re installing a brand-new bathroom, the cost of plumbing work isn’t pleasant to contemplate. The scope of plumbing projects varies significantly, making it a nightmare to nail down costs.

Hopefully, we can give you some idea of how much you can expect to pay for your next project. In this article, we’ll tell you:

  • The general costs involved in plumbing work
  • Ballpark figures for different kinds of plumbing work
  • How to find a good plumber at a reasonable price
  • How you can pay for plumbing repairs

General costs for plumbing work

There are two main costs you need to consider for your project: materials and labour.

  • Materials are items you must supply to complete the job, such as washbasins, toilet pans, bathtubs, and any additional pipes
  • Labour is the amount a plumber charges for their time

Small extra costs may also be incurred, such as:

  • Disposal costs – for instance, the cost of getting rid of an old toilet or basin
  • Parts – small parts the plumber must provide to complete the works

Plumbing material costs

You will need to factor in the cost of materials when planning your project. When receiving quotes from plumbers, it’s all too easy to forget that the materials are not included in the price! Luckily, this area of your project offers ample opportunities to save money: toilets, showers, baths and basins all vary significantly in cost depending on brand, quality and features. If you prefer, you can opt for more basic fittings to keep your costs down. If price isn’t a major concern, you can splash out on designer style or extra functionality.

When choosing materials, bear in mind that some items come with unforeseen costs. For instance, if the type of shower or toilet you have chosen takes longer to install, you will have to pay for the additional labour.

Plumbing labour costs

The cost of labour is the amount a professional tradesman charges for their services. If you are proficient at DIY, there may be some jobs you are happy to do yourself to save on labour costs. But for many of us, or for more serious issues, hiring a professional plumber is the only way to get the job done.

Do plumbers charge by the hour or the job?

For smaller jobs, plumbers will generally charge by the hour. However, they may charge by the day or by the job for bigger projects, depending on what is involved.

How much do plumbers charge per hour?

In most parts of the UK, plumbers charge between £40 and £60 per hour, with £50 being the average rate. In London, you may pay up to £80 per hour.

What about day rates?

For larger jobs, plumbers may offer a day rate rather than an hourly rate. Typically, you can expect to pay between £300 and £400 per day.

Does a two-person job cost more?

Many jobs require only one plumber, but larger jobs may require two. If this is the case, you will need to pay extra to cover the labour costs of both plumbers.

What is the callout charge for a plumber?

Callout charges vary, but you should be prepared to pay around twice the standard hourly rate. Ask your plumber what this fee includes, however, as some will include an hour’s labour in this cost.

How much does an emergency plumber cost?

As you might expect, the going rate for an emergency plumber is higher than the average rate. This is because the plumber must come out quickly, quite possibly outside of standard business hours.

The callout fee will be around £100, plus you will likely be charged a higher hourly rate.

Why are plumbing costs so steep?

When charging for their work, plumbers must factor in business costs, travel costs, training costs, insurance costs, plus various other costs such as membership fees to competent member schemes. A plumber has sought-after skills and expertise, and this is also reflected in the price paid.

While the cost of plumbing repairs may seem steep, the cost of not calling a plumber can be significantly worse. Water damage not only impacts the value of your home but can also cause warping and mould issues, not to mention attract vermin. In severe cases, water damage can even weaken the foundations of your property. That’s why it’s important to get plumbing issues sorted out quickly by an experienced and accredited professional.

Rough costs for plumbing jobs

Below, we’ve provided some rough costs for plumbing jobs so you have an idea of how much you can expect to spend. This section covers:

  • Toilets
  • Showers
  • Bathtubs
  • Basins and taps
  • Radiators
  • Boilers
  • Pipe repairs
  • Bathroom installations

Plumber’s rates and material costs do vary, and every home is unique. Therefore, we would recommend getting several quotes and pricing up any material costs before committing to any project.

Toilets

Replacing a toilet

Typically, it will take a plumber 2-4 hours to replace a toilet. You will need to consider the cost of the toilet itself, as well as whether your chosen toilet is easy or difficult to install. The longer it takes to fit the toilet, the higher the labour cost will be.

  • Cheap and easy, close-coupled toilets can be replaced for £200 to £400. The toilet itself will set you back £100 or £200, with labour costing a further £100-200.
  • Budget slightly higher for toilets with high-level or low-level cisterns. The toilets themselves range between £125 and £250. Labour is an additional £150-250 on top. In total, you can expect to pay £300 to £500.
  • Toilets with wall-hung or hidden cisterns come in a bit higher at £300 or £400. Labour will cost another £300 to £400 as these models take longer to install. This means you can expect to pay £600-800 overall.
Cost to Replace a Toilet

Moving a toilet

Moving a toilet is a straightforward job for a professional plumber. However, it requires more work than replacing a toilet and will therefore cost more.

While new parts may be required, labour is where the bulk of the costs lie. The drainage and water supply will have to be rerouted, which will likely mean opening up a floor or wall.

The distance you wish to move the toilet will also impact costs. It may be quite easy to move the toilet a few centimetres. However, moving the toilet across the room, or to another room or floor, will be substantially more expensive.

The cost of this type of job is difficult to estimate, therefore we would recommend consulting several plumbers regarding your specific situation.

Unblocking a toilet

A plumber can unblock a toilet provided that the blockage is above ground. This service costs about £60-80. If the blockage is below ground, you will need to consult a drainage specialist instead.

Showers

Installing a shower

For mixer showers, thermostatic showers and electric showers, you can expect labour costs of £150 to £200. Digital showers and power showers take longer to install, with labour costs averaging £300 to £350. Digital showers may cost more, depending on whether they can be connected to other smart devices in your home.

Different types of showers come at different price points:

  • You can buy an electric or mixer shower for around £60, with many models ranging from £100 to £250. Premium options can cost upwards of £400.
  • Thermostatic showers range between £150 and £300.
  • Power showers are generally more expensive at around £200 to £500.
  • Digital showers come at the highest price point by quite a margin, usually costing between £250 and £1,000.

Cost is not the only factor when considering buying a shower. Showering is a part of everyday life, so convenience, comfort, practicality and compatibility with your home and lifestyle are also important. No one wants to dread stepping in the shower every morning, whether it’s because it takes a long time to warm up, the water pressure is too low, or the water temperature is unpredictable. Where possible, it is better to invest in a type and model of shower that is suitable for you and your household.

  • If you have children or live with a vulnerable adult, you may favour a thermostatic shower, as this regulates temperature to prevent water from coming out too hot.
  • Electric showers don’t require hot water from your boiler, so you won’t have to wait for a hot shower. They are also a good choice if you have a combi boiler.
  • If you have low water pressure, a power shower may be your best bet, even though this option is more expensive to install.
  • Digital showers are more of a high-end purchase and will be particularly enjoyed by tech fans. The digital control offers total temperature precision. Some units are also compatible with smart devices for greater convenience.
Cost to Install A Shower

Repairing a cracked shower tray

A cracked shower tray allows water to seep into other parts of the house, which can cause serious damage. Depending on the extent of the damage, it costs about £200-250 in labour costs to repair.

Unclogging a shower

If your shower is draining slowly, you can try unblocking it yourself with boiling water or chemicals. If these cheap and simple solutions don’t work, however, you can ask a plumber to unclog the shower for you. This service will generally set you back about £80.

Bathtubs

Replacing a bathtub

To install a standard bathtub, you can expect to pay between £80 and £130 in labour costs, although a walk-in bath will be more costly.

The rest of the cost is largely dependent upon the bathtub you choose.

  • Acrylic baths are a popular choice due to their availability and cost-effectiveness. They generally cost around £150-£250 but can be purchased for £100 if you’re keen to keep costs down.
  • Heavier but better at retaining heat, steel baths start at £150, with premium options costing up to £1,000.
  • A luxurious option, iron bathtubs cost over £800.
  • The cost of a natural stone bathtub ranges from £300 to £3,000. These baths look beautiful but are not as easy to maintain as acrylic or steel tubs.
  • Walk-in baths are ideal if someone in your household has mobility issues. These baths feature a watertight door for easy access. These models start at approximately £1,500.
Replacing a Bathtub

Resurfacing a bathtub

If you would like to refresh your bathtub, you might want to consider having it resurfaced. You can have a standard bathtub resurfaced for between £300 and £600 in most parts of the UK. If you have an expensive tub, this service can be worth the investment. For cheaper tubs, however, it may be easier to simply buy a replacement.

Repairing a chip

The cost to repair a chip in your bathtub varies depending on the size of the chip. However, it will typically cost between £80 and £120. This makes it much cheaper than replacing the bathtub.

Basins and taps

Replacing a basin

It costs about £100-200 in labour to replace a basin on a like-for-like basis, where no new pipework is required.

A standard basin typically costs between £100 and £150. Washbasins start at £50. You can purchase a cheap full pedestal basin for around £70.

Replacing or installing a basin or bath tap

It costs about £50 in labour costs for a basin or bath tap to be replaced. This job normally takes about an hour. To have a tap installed with new lines can take 1-3 hours and will cost £50-150.

Taps can be purchased for just £15, but premium taps can cost over £200. On average, bath filler taps and bath shower mixer taps cost about £60-80, while pillar taps and basin mono mixer taps cost £30-50. Add an extra £20 in extra material costs if the taps are being installed with newlines.

Cost to Replace or Install A Bath or Basin Tap

Repairing a basin or bath tap

A leaking or dripping faucet is one of the most common repair jobs around the home. Often, the leak will be fixed if you replace the rubber washer or O-ring and does not require a plumber if you are proficient at DIY. If standard methods don’t work, however, it’s time to call in a professional tradesperson.

It costs about £100 to repair a leaking tap. This may sound pricey for a seemingly small problem. However, a leaking tap is worse than you might think and should be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid causing problems like mould, damp, water damage and, if nothing else, a big water bill!

Radiators

The cost of a new radiator varies dramatically. You can buy a cheap radiator for as little as £50, but certain models, such as designer radiators, may cost hundreds.

To keep things simple, we have not included the cost of the radiator in our calculations below, only the cost of labour. However, you are welcome to browse our radiators to find the best option for you.

Replacing A Radiator

Credit: @paintbrush_and_prosecco

Replacing a radiator

If you would like to replace your radiator with a similar model, you can expect labour costs between £50 and £120 in most parts of the country. In London, the cost can be as high as £200.

Moving a radiator

To move a radiator to a new location, it may be necessary to run new pipes along walls or behind plasterboard. Floorboards may also need to be lifted. This incurs extra costs, so you can expect to pay £200 to £300 for this service.

Installing a radiator

Installing a radiator incurs similar costs to moving a radiator and may require more pipework. This brings the cost of labour to anywhere between £200 and £400.

Repairing a radiator leak

Repairing a leaking radiator is a common plumbing job that will set you back about £120.

Is it better to repair or replace your radiator?

It depends on your circumstances. It is cheaper to repair it than replace it since you won’t have to spend money on a brand-new radiator.

However, if your radiator is old or in poor condition, it might be better to simply bite the bullet and have it replaced. Rust and other debris builds up inside radiators. Over time, this can cause major damage to your boiler, a far more devastating cost.

In addition, new radiators are more energy-efficient, outputting more heat and taking up less wall space. Great for compact living, and a good way to bring down your energy bill.

Thermostatic radiator valves

Thermostatic radiator valves allow you to control the temperature of each radiator. You can expect to pay between £20 and £60 per valve, although smart valves will be more expensive. They do help to save energy, however, which will offset this cost in the longer term.

Boilers

Replacing a boiler

It can cost between £1,500 and £3,000 to replace a boiler – one of the more expensive plumbing jobs on this list. Since a boiler is an absolute essential, it’s also a job you can’t avoid doing for long. Choose a reliable model and have this installed by an accredited professional to reduce the risk of further issues.

Repairing a boiler

Repairing a boiler will set you back £100 to £500, depending on what the problem is. The price varies because different parts will cost different amounts to replace.

Installing a wall thermostat

The cost of installing a thermostat largely depends on the type of thermostat you choose.

  • Manual thermostats are the cheapest option, costing £10-40 to buy and around £100-150 to install. As the name suggests, these thermostats must be operated manually and cannot be pre-programmed.
  • Programmed thermostats are now a common find in British households. These can be programmed to come on at certain times of the day, great if you want to avoid walking into a cold house after work. These come in at £30-70 and can be installed for around £150-175.
  • The most modern and expensive option, smart thermostats allow you to adjust your heating using an app on your smartphone or tablet. Models start from around £75 but can be as dear as £250. These can be installed for £250-400. While this option is initially more expensive, research suggests that smart thermostats are an excellent way of saving money on your heating bills.

Pipe repairs

The amount it costs to repair a pipe generally ranges between £150 and £300. The cost will depend on the extent of the damage and the location of the pipe.

  • The harder it is to get to the pipe and isolate it, the longer it may take the plumber to repair it, which pushes labour costs up. A simple repair should only take an hour or two, but a more difficult repair may take longer.
  • For something more severe, like a burst pipe, you will need to hire an emergency plumber, whose services will cost more.

Installing a bathroom

A bathroom can range from a small cloakroom with a basic basin and sink to a sprawling state-of-the-art bathroom with a designer bath and digital shower. A new bathroom can cost anything from £3,000 to £15,000. The cost will vary significantly depending on several factors:

  • the size and location of the bathroom
  • the fittings you require
  • whether the new fittings will remain in the same location as the previous fittings
  • the amount of pipework needed

Hopefully, this guide has given you some ballpark figures for the cost of each item in your new bathroom. However, bear in mind that it may be possible to make additional savings:

  • Have the whole bathroom installed in one go –a plumber will generally charge less for labour to do one large job than several small, separate jobs.
  • Leave bathroom fittings in their original location – it is much quicker and easier to install a new bath, shower, toilet, or basin in the same place it was previously than to try and move it elsewhere. Moving bathroom fittings means rerouting the drainage and/or water supply, which incurs extra costs.
  • Choose similar bathroom fittings – choose bathroom fittings that work similarly to your previous fittings. This will minimise labour costs as it will make installation quicker and more straightforward. It will also prevent unseen complications when installing.

How to find a good plumber

Many of us know what it’s like to use a service or buy a product only to realise it would have been cheaper elsewhere. Likewise, we've all heard stories of cowboy workmen who overcharge customers or do not perform work to an acceptable standard.

There are several things you can do to protect yourself against rogue traders or to avoid paying prices that aren’t competitive.

  • Do your research – there are many resources online to help you work out what plumbing costs to expect. While these sites provide only rough figures, they should prevent you from paying over the odds. Shop around for plumbers in your area ahead of time, in particular emergency plumbers, whose charges and rates can vary. That way, when a serious problem arises, you won’t have to find someone on the fly. According to the BBC, emergency plumbing is a hotspot for rogue traders, who take advantage of the fact that it is a distress purchase.
  • Use a vetted plumbing company – finding workmen you can trust is an ongoing challenge. You can find vetted companies through find-a-trader sites such as Checkatrade and associations like the APHC (Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Limited). You can also use Trustmark, the only government-endorsed quality scheme for works carried out in the home.
  • Go by recommendation – if someone you know personally has had a positive experience with a tradesperson, you may wish to get a quote from them for your own project.

How to pay for plumbing repairs

Plumbing problems can arise out of the blue and can be a major unforeseen cost. This can put a serious dent in your finances. However, there are a few ways to manage the cost.

  • Insurance – a good insurance policy is your first port of call for covering plumbing costs. When taking out home insurance, it can be tempting to choose a cheaper and more basic plan. But in the long run, more comprehensive cover may be the most cost-effective solution.

If you can’t or don’t want to claim on your insurance, there are other methods for weathering the costs.

  • Instalments – some plumbing companies allow you can pay for the work in instalments. This allows you to split the cost over a longer period.
  • Pay on a credit card – paying by credit card means the plumbing costs won’t immediately come out of your bank account. Depending on the terms of your credit agreement, you may be able to pay off the bill in instalments. This will spread the cost more evenly. You will also pay interest, however, meaning you will pay back more overall.
  • Use a rainy-day fund – it’s not just plumbing problems that can hurt your finances. All sorts of unexpected costs can arise, especially when you own your own home. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a separate bank account for emergency expenses. This is often referred to as a rainy-day fund.

Need some ideas for your next project?

If you’re looking for ideas for your next plumbing project, check out our buying guides for tips and inspiration - DIY Home Improvements - Bathroom DIY: How to Fit a Toilet - Plumbing Basics - Learn about your home plumbing system.


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