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Discuss May not be in the right section in the Plumbing Forum | Plumbing Advice area at PlumbersForums.net

Messages
1
I was on this forum a long time ago and I would like to explain my experience of plumbing. This may be a long post but I will be happy if it helps just one person.

I came to plumbing late in life and went on a course that you qualify in 10 weeks. I was hit with all the negativity that no one will employ you and you won't know anything etc.

So, partly I felt that this was 'plumbers protecting' themselves and just negative feedback. Mainly though you can't be successful unless you complete an apprenticeship. This is both true and false. No-one wanted to help at the beginning and I didn't know that much. The harsh reality is being in a school and someone's home is a world apart. A plumber who has only worked on a site has the same issue of transition changing from site to domestic work. (I have watched this personally)

Trying to work out why something has failed and looking at the issue thinking: 'It shouldn't even work like this!' Attempting to put things right only to move the problem further on. This is just demoralising and eats away at you.

Still, I kept plugging away, reading, learning and my understanding increased slowly. Only taking on small jobs, just to build confidence and understanding. Learning to look around the house - not all 15mm pipe is 15mm pipe. I ended up cutting a pipe on a mobile home that was plastic and then realising that it was not 15mm. How could you know that it was German pipe! (I think it was 16mm) An hour's job installing a washing machine that took all day!

I could go on like this but every plumber knows of these saga's that happen every day - sorting out a mistake that you couldn't envisage. As a beginner and on your own though - this is a lonely existance.

The biggest help was that I was in a plumbing shop and there was a plumber who was moaning about being soooo busy (all plumbers do) and needed help. I offered to give him a hand for a couple of days and we came to an arrangement on pay (it wasn't a lot) He was superb, fast, accurate, explained things as he went I learnt quickly. He was manic though, more spare parts in the front of his van than in the shop - excellent plumber but poor businessman. (A busy fool!)

I was lucky and had an opportunity to work with a different plumber - he was slower and not as knowledgeable. We sat around for an hour waiting for a boiler to be delivered! Then we had to go shopping and buy the fittings etc.

He was so disorganised. I have seen this time and time again, customers let down constantly, parts that should have been fitted sitting in the back of vans. Excellent tradespeople but poor business people - rushing around to make a living but not being able to run their customers.

I realised I was working less than some plumbers and earning as much as they did. So, organise yourself - let your customers know, turn up or call them if you can't and they will understand. If you order a part go and fit it and be ready to go if you are doing an install. You need to be aware that time management and management of resources is paramount - basic but people don't get it!

Do a job and get paid! I have had an electrician in recently and I am still waiting for his bill - 2 months later.*** I have even asked for it!

Never justify what you charge - Tesco doesn't! A price is a price, does a supermarket reduce the cost of a product because the customer can't pay? You are worth what you charge! Think about your outgoings and keep these in the back of your mind - van, parts, diesel, accountant, tax, NI, road tax, insurance, PLI. The list is endless.

The only thing I have said to any customer is: 'Make sure you are looking at a like for like quote.'

Finally, I am now retired and I retired at 48, I have had a few jobs some dangerous, I have run a business previously to being a plumber but this is what I learnt:

"Plumbing is hateful, it can go wrong in an instant even if you do everything right, it is lonely, if anything happens you are on your own. You can lose money if you are not careful - how could you know the floor was rotten under the shower! The rewards are there but you have to work for it - and work hard.'

In my view it is a young man's game - crawling around lofts, underneath floor boards, being on your knees in airing cupboards, lifting, bending and twisting. Plumbing is relentless and unforgiving.

Above all for the new starters - be humble, listen and learn even if you work for someone and lose half your day rate it'll be worth it. Then ask for help - someone who uses your supplier will know and will have come across that exact problem before.***

Help other plumbers - it is always useful to have a mate in your phone.***. just in case

Thanks for reading
 
Messages
38
I was on this forum a long time ago and I would like to explain my experience of plumbing. This may be a long post but I will be happy if it helps just one person.

I came to plumbing late in life and went on a course that you qualify in 10 weeks. I was hit with all the negativity that no one will employ you and you won't know anything etc.

So, partly I felt that this was 'plumbers protecting' themselves and just negative feedback. Mainly though you can't be successful unless you complete an apprenticeship. This is both true and false. No-one wanted to help at the beginning and I didn't know that much. The harsh reality is being in a school and someone's home is a world apart. A plumber who has only worked on a site has the same issue of transition changing from site to domestic work. (I have watched this personally)

Trying to work out why something has failed and looking at the issue thinking: 'It shouldn't even work like this!' Attempting to put things right only to move the problem further on. This is just demoralising and eats away at you.

Still, I kept plugging away, reading, learning and my understanding increased slowly. Only taking on small jobs, just to build confidence and understanding. Learning to look around the house - not all 15mm pipe is 15mm pipe. I ended up cutting a pipe on a mobile home that was plastic and then realising that it was not 15mm. How could you know that it was German pipe! (I think it was 16mm) An hour's job installing a washing machine that took all day!

I could go on like this but every plumber knows of these saga's that happen every day - sorting out a mistake that you couldn't envisage. As a beginner and on your own though - this is a lonely existance.

The biggest help was that I was in a plumbing shop and there was a plumber who was moaning about being soooo busy (all plumbers do) and needed help. I offered to give him a hand for a couple of days and we came to an arrangement on pay (it wasn't a lot) He was superb, fast, accurate, explained things as he went I learnt quickly. He was manic though, more spare parts in the front of his van than in the shop - excellent plumber but poor businessman. (A busy fool!)

I was lucky and had an opportunity to work with a different plumber - he was slower and not as knowledgeable. We sat around for an hour waiting for a boiler to be delivered! Then we had to go shopping and buy the fittings etc.

He was so disorganised. I have seen this time and time again, customers let down constantly, parts that should have been fitted sitting in the back of vans. Excellent tradespeople but poor business people - rushing around to make a living but not being able to run their customers.

I realised I was working less than some plumbers and earning as much as they did. So, organise yourself - let your customers know, turn up or call them if you can't and they will understand. If you order a part go and fit it and be ready to go if you are doing an install. You need to be aware that time management and management of resources is paramount - basic but people don't get it!

Do a job and get paid! I have had an electrician in recently and I am still waiting for his bill - 2 months later.*** I have even asked for it!

Never justify what you charge - Tesco doesn't! A price is a price, does a supermarket reduce the cost of a product because the customer can't pay? You are worth what you charge! Think about your outgoings and keep these in the back of your mind - van, parts, diesel, accountant, tax, NI, road tax, insurance, PLI. The list is endless.

The only thing I have said to any customer is: 'Make sure you are looking at a like for like quote.'

Finally, I am now retired and I retired at 48, I have had a few jobs some dangerous, I have run a business previously to being a plumber but this is what I learnt:

"Plumbing is hateful, it can go wrong in an instant even if you do everything right, it is lonely, if anything happens you are on your own. You can lose money if you are not careful - how could you know the floor was rotten under the shower! The rewards are there but you have to work for it - and work hard.'

In my view it is a young man's game - crawling around lofts, underneath floor boards, being on your knees in airing cupboards, lifting, bending and twisting. Plumbing is relentless and unforgiving.

Above all for the new starters - be humble, listen and learn even if you work for someone and lose half your day rate it'll be worth it. Then ask for help - someone who uses your supplier will know and will have come across that exact problem before.***

Help other plumbers - it is always useful to have a mate in your phone.***. just in case

Thanks for reading
Good read fella👍
 
J

Just replying

Glad you could retire at 48, clearly you werent a plumber for very long. 😀
🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 about 10 years. The reason I trained as a plumber was that we were considering emigrating and plumbing was a required trade. So, on a fact finding mission to NZ I found that the qualifications here were different, there and I would need to be re-tested blah blah blah. (It may have changed - who knows!) I spoke to a few plumbers there (ex-pats) who explained the quality of life (awesome - depending what you are after) the rates of pay (dreadful) and that a lot of people there had two jobs. The plumber I went to see had the biggest house in his company (bought with the proceeds from the sale of his house in the UK).

To make ends meet he had to rent out rooms. A chemist I spoke to also had a second income to make a living. The cost of living there was very expensive. We decided not to go because financially we would have to take a step back, the house would have been bigger with more ground but what is the point if you struggle to pay for it. At 38 I thought it was too much of a risk - if I were younger I'd have done it.

I was already running a successful business when I decided to change this enabled me to: 'Self-fund training,' and not have to worry before establishing myself. Albeit this took far longer than anticipated but I got there - didn't earn enough to retire from plumbing though!

What I took from plumbing is: good tradespeople don't always make good business people. If you can get 2 or 3 excellent tradespeople together with a manager then you have a good business.
 

Ric2013

Plumber
Messages
2,839
I know a plumber in his 80s. He's retured, mainly, but can't sit still so still does odds and ends and won't turn down an emergency call because he feels you can't leave people without hot water if they call you.

2.5" LCS pipe failed in his own house recently and he claims he now struggles to weld the back of the pipes using a mirror, but he's still managed to do it.
 

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