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The Price of Plumbing: Why aren’t costs regulated by the ACCC?

Plumbing is one of the most popular professions in Sydney. Demand is almost always high and, in turn, so are the costs for a call-out.

While advertised prices appear low on an advertisement or website, that tends to be solely for the cost of the plumber call-out. Once the plumber has entered your home or commercial premise and started to diagnose or fix a problem – that’s when the prices start to mount. But why? Is it out of greed or out of necessity? And why isn’t it regulated by the ACCC?

According to an article on Lifehacker, due to the regulations for public health and safety, in addition to competition with other plumbers, each contractor can essentially quote however much they’d like.

Public health and safety states that all plumbing work undertaken by anyone who isn’t a licensed plumber is an illegal practice due to the risks to public health, safety and the environment. Essentially, very basic fixes won’t likely get you in trouble, but trying to fiddle around with sewerage lines will.

What's the true cost of a plumber in Sydney? Image via Shutterstock.

What’s the true cost of a plumber in Sydney? Image via Shutterstock.

Plumbing: It’s Stiff Competition

As for the ACCC, Lifehacker explains that the Commission operates “on the assumption that competition is the most effective way of ensuring consumers get value for money, and many of its regulatory activities are focused on ensuring that competition is maintained.” That is, plumbers as a whole are not allowed to meet and agree not to quote less than a given amount per hour. As each plumber quotes independently – thus, there is no monopoly on the supply of plumbers by a select few companies – then there is no immediate breach of ACCC regulations.

Another thing to keep in mind when looking at plumbers quotes is that the profession is a high-risk one and that many plumbers are self-employed, meaning that the price of a quote is equivalent to the risk that may be involved in completing a job. However, understandably that isn’t the most reassuring way to approach all plumbing pricing issues from the customer’s end.

The Right Plumber for You

This is where doing your research and asking for recommendations from your friends, colleagues and neighbours comes in handy. Efficiency, accuracy and value-for-money are all key elements in finding a good plumber in Sydney. Primarily, it’s important to always call the plumber you’re considering hiring and really ask some questions about how much it’s going cost. Ensure the plumbers coming out to your job are qualified professionals and members of the Master Plumbers Association.

Geoff James
Written By:

Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.