A Complete Guide on How to Bid on Plumbing Jobs

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Want to know how to bid on plumbing jobs smartly? Then refer to this complete guide on how to bid plumbing jobs so that with the right pricing strategy you can outweigh the competitors.

Professional plumbing contractors must possess more than just technical skills; they must also be professional in their approach to pricing plumbing jobs. The plumber should prepare an accurate plumbing estimate.

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters’ employment are predicted to grow by 16 percent between 2016 and 2026. Therefore, if you have the right strategy to win over more customers, your business can scale and prosper in the long run.

As a plumber, time is the most valuable asset. This is why it is essential to accurately forecast the time and effort required to provide customers with a quote that will secure the job and bring you a good profit on the plumbing job.

A plumbing estimate is valuable for two reasons. To begin with, they provide the customer with an accurate cost estimate. Secondly, a plumbing estimate provides a detailed outline of how you will take on the job over your competitors.

Whether you are an experienced plumber or a journeyman plumber, here is the detailed guide on how to bid on plumbing jobs that can make it easier to land the job every time.

How to Price a Plumbing Job

1. Calculate your hourly rate from the bottom up

When quoting, set the amount you would like to get each week. It is important to factor into your calculations if you plan on earning $900 a week by working 40 hours a week. As a start-up, you’ll lose productivity as you’ll have to drive, handle administrative tasks, and so on during the initial stage.

Calculate your hourly rate from the bottom up

Remember that you will also need to add in money for taxes, vacations, insurance, pensions, etc., so you should round up your hourly charge to $40 per hour to include all these expenses.

2. The overhead costs and profit margins should be calculated

As far as overhead is concerned, these expenses are not directly related to your work but are necessary to keep your business running normally.

Estimating and sales costs include administrative staff, insurance, marketing, office rent and supplies, and office supplies.

When bidding on plumbing jobs, it is essential to consider the costs of lighting, maintaining your truck, marketing, etc.

A percentage of the total project costs is usually added to calculate this cost. Consult an accountant if you are unsure what your overhead percentage is. A company’s profit can be described easily and is usually calculated as a ratio of its total costs over the project’s profit margin.

3. Mark ups costs

A markup is an amount you charge the customer for a product or service. There is a markup on the job, a percentage of everything that goes into the job. For example, if you have a project that costs you $1800 and marks it up to 30%, you will charge $2,340 and get a profit of 30%.

It is essential to know that markups do not have to be consistent from job to job and from customer to customer. You can select the most appropriate markups for your business if you want. Here is a free markup calculator for you.

For example, if a customer needs some emergency repair and doesn’t mind paying more than what you quoted them, your markup percentage might increase since they are willing to pay more.

Several factors can influence the timeline, depending on what you are doing. As far as emergency repairs are concerned, they will mean that you will be working outside your normal business hours and may even need to prioritize that customer over other work you have to do.

Commercial work will also require you to work outside regular business hours, and you’ll likely have a tighter deadline to meet. This allows you to charge a higher rate.

4. Calculate the total number of hours you have worked

Another excellent way to price plumbing job bids from customers is to calculate the number of hours you will be investing on the busy job site to complete the work. This method of charging the price for the plumbing job will only apply to an hourly rate.

Let’s say you will be devoting a total of 10 hours to the job. To derive the exact cost for the job, you need to multiply the hours by the hourly rate you will be charging the customers. For instance, you are charging $20/hour for the job. In this case, the total cost will be (10 x $20) $200.

5. Add up all the numbers

Well, you are now closer to locking the bid. It’s time to add up all the costs you will consider while determining the job price. From staff, resources, travel expenses, and equipment. Add all the costs and then decide, keeping in mind your profit margin and get the final price.

As a result, you will earn a net profit after covering overhead and buying the materials, including taxes.

It is a simple formula that will ensure you blow your competitors out of the water and have a steady client base as long as you follow this formula, communicate with your clients, and stay prepared.

6. Review your proposal

Getting the proposal to cross-examine by someone senior with great understanding, math and all, is always a good idea. They must check all the expenses that need to be considered and all the math used to bid on the contract. Calculating a sum using a formula in a spreadsheet is particularly arduous.

Review your proposal

To determine the bid for the plumbing services, consider adopting InvoiceOwl as your go-to estimating and invoicing software. With this software, you can easily create estimates and invoices as it is one of the most user-friendly software, and you will never miss any aspect of pricing them.

Get started with a free trial today and explore a range of exclusive features.


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Types of Bid Plumbing Jobs

There are several types of plumbing jobs to bid on:

  1. Remodel plumbing bid

    Typically, this bid can be used by clients looking to remodel residential or commercial spaces with a lot of plumbing, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

  2. Bids for new construction plumbing

    Commercial or residential contractors most often request plumbing bids. A building with a new plumbing system requires the most work to bid on since you will be responsible for planning and installing it independently.

  3. Plumbing service bid

    There are many situations in which government agencies and property managers will request you to bid on plumbing services they wish to be awarded to a plumbing company that will have the right qualifications for the job.

    As the winner of this bid, you’ll be liable for the plumbing-related services you provide to the client during the contract period.

Factors Affecting The Cost of Plumbing Jobs

1. Labor

It is important to note that labor cost is a significant factor when determining your bid. Labor rates that are too low will make it difficult for you to compete with other plumbers in your area.


If your quote is too high, you will not win the job because the customer will not be able to justify the price. While it is easier to raise a bid after the project has begun, you should compare the prices of contractors in your area to find a middle ground between these two extremes.

2. Determine the profit

The second that influences the plumbing bidding price is determining the profit margin.

In other words, you should understand the industry and regional standards and your salary requirements. Take some time to consider your personal financial needs before choosing a rate to ensure it reflects them.

While you are taking inventory of your salary needs, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you make an informed decision. Among them are:

  • Is your plumbing company going to need a lot of money to survive?
  • How much money does payroll require?
  • Can I get a free quote from you? It will take time to do this (if you do).

Essentially, you must price every plumbing job in a way that goes well with your plumbing business. Each company may have a different approach to this.

To determine the percentage of each job that should be going toward operational expenses and a percentage for your salary, you will ultimately need to decide how much money should be set aside for your business’s growth/savings and growth.

To divide your profits into three different categories, you may want to use the “rule of threes.”

3. Ease and access

Third, ease of access and job size should also be considered when making bids.

We must spend plenty of time investigating the job site and identifying any underlying problems.

Often, you may hear about a job that seems simple on paper, but once you explore the job site and see what is involved, you will realize it may be a much more complex, time-consuming, or simply more complicated project than you thought.

Customers may benefit from avoiding these obstacles to lower the project’s cost or make less money for themselves if you don’t charge your customers by the hour.

It should be clear by now that it is impossible to anticipate all obstacles or circumstances that could occur, and you will inevitably run into unpredicted problems at some point.

Even so, it’s essential to do your homework and be up-front with your customer about the job’s complexity, and your customer ought to appreciate the effort you took to inform them of this fact.

In addition to ease and access, also think about the job size. A more complicated job may require a little research for you to price it correctly; make sure you factor this research time into your estimate!

And, of course, if you have to hire subcontractors to assist with the job, you’ll want to know their pricing or payment requirements and factor that into your quote.

4. Extra materials and additional expenses

When pricing your jobs, you should remember the cost of materials or additional expenses since it influences the plumbing services bids.

There is a custom in the trade that, in cases where additional materials will be used on a job, they will not be included in the main estimate; they are listed separately.

Additionally, suppose you are providing additional services, such as debris removal. In that case, you must inform your customers of any extra fees associated with those services.

5. Crew and staffing cost

The next step is determining whether you need a crew for the job. Depending on your bid specifications and designs, you will have to price per head on site. Make a profit and account for unforeseen circumstances by adding a little more on top.

Crew and staffing cost

This can get pricey fast without clearly understanding the client’s requirements. Do you need several master plumbers to supervise apprentices or helpers? How much will it cost per head per hour?

The hourly plumbing rate must be determined for each crew member based on their skill level.

If you want to ease the expense tracking process and get an accurate estimate for the plumbing job, then InvoiceOwl is worth the try.

Plumbing Documents You Need to Include

You will need an essential document if you intend to take the next step to bid on plumbing jobs at a professional level. By providing these documents, you can ensure that your quote is comprehensive, intelligent, and well-informed.

  • Plumbing contract

    Creating a plumbing contract protects your business from potential disputes and ensures you’re remunerated accordingly. Your contract should detail the scope of the work, the
    services you’ll provide, and the costs you will incur.

  • Plumbing drawings

    In most cases, you will require blueprints and drawings for large-scale projects. When building a new home or business, you may need plumbing blueprints and general construction plans. You can usually find plumbing drawings within the construction drawings; you may obtain these drawings from the builder or the homeowner if you have the details.

    As a plumber, it is essential to know that building plans, architectural drawings, and construction drawings can all be valuable tools to help you determine the scope and complexity of any plumbing project. This can allow you to estimate the cost of materials and your crew’s hourly rate.

    Drawing a plumbing sketch can help you appreciate the true complexity of any plumbing challenge you may encounter.

  • The plumbing takeoff

    Plumbing takeoffs are detailed breakdowns of every item you’ll need to complete the project and a list of the items you’ll need. In addition, it might reveal if additional workers are required for the plumbing project or if there are other special considerations. Takeoffs are beefed-up estimates.

    During takeoffs, plumbers often work with blueprints, drawings, or colored pencils to sketch the different water piping.

    The takeoff can be handled in any way that works for you and your organization. As you bid on different plumbing jobs, especially those that are more complex, know that this is a valuable resource.


How About Having Leisure Time By Ditching Manual Estimating Process?

Wonderful, isn’t it? InvoiceOwl is here to help you to have more leisure time by automating the estimates and invoices process!

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How do you make a plumbing bid?

    The following steps can help you start your plumbing bid:

    • Ensure that the customer understands what you are trying to do.
    • Communicate your bid clearly and understandably.
    • Demonstrate your abilities.
    • Make it easy for them to accept.

  2. How profitable is a plumbing business?

    Plumbers make an average annual income of $80,000. Suppose that a master plumber earns $40 an hour and bills eight hours each day, which equates to $100,000 per year, although the cost of basic supplies and time spent administrating the business will lessen this profit by a considerable amount.

  3. Why should you start a plumbing business?

    Self-employed plumbers have the advantage of meeting with customers individually. In either case, whether the customer is a homeowner looking for repair services or a contractor looking for a new project, you can represent the company thoroughly and provide customer service that suits the situation.


To avoid undervaluing your work, it’s essential to know how much plumbers cost. With our pricing guide for plumbing work, you’ll be able to cover all the bases, including a labor price list.

Increasingly, plumbing companies are competing for the same jobs, so you need a tool that automates and streamlines your plumbing estimations, saves time on paperwork, and gets you more clients!

You need to use many tools to do a good job in your plumbing business, and a mobile app is no exception. Doing so will enable you to get things done faster and better, charge your customers fairly, and guarantee your profits without the risk of losing them due to organizational errors.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More