If you've got a massive plumbing project on the horizon, you most likely know that you'll have to call a plumbing company, but how do you know whether to hire a plumber or a plumbing contractor? There's a lot of overlap between the two professions - indeed, many people think they describe the same occupation - but there's a lot of difference between the two. Knowing who to hire is as simple as asking yourself a few basic questions.
What is the Scope of the Project?
Plumbers are best for everyday projects, like replacing fixtures, unclogging toilets, or even installing sewer lines. Those jobs may not be basic, but they're more frequent and usually start off as apprentices before moving on to a master license, which can take nearly ten years to complete. They can also choose to specialize in certain areas, such as water sprinklers. water heaters, or even gas line installation. Those types of specializations usually require obtaining certain certifications to be able to advertise those services.
Plumbing contractors, on the other hand, have many of the same characteristics of plumbers, but are best for more complex tasks like gas control valves and backflow prevention devices. They also deal primarily with commercial or large-scale residential applications, such as apartment buildings and multi-level office buildings. The plumbing system of a row of duplexes, for instance, is much different than a single-family residence, so it takes a plumbing contractor to formulate the blueprints. Even though plumbing contractors can (and oftentimes do) complete the job themselves, they usually subcontract the bulk of the work to plumbers.
How Much Planning is Required?
Plumbers are a versatile bunch, able to perform as consummate professionals in just about every type of plumbing situation. They're best utilized in "day of" situations though: coming onto a job site to do a designated set of tasks. Plumbing contractors are the ones that lay out the tasks for the plumbers to perform. They can design an entire plumbing layout, apply for permits, and coordinate with other professionals that may be on the job site. They're even called in to simply consult on other projects, even without doing the actual work themselves.
If you've completed a structure with a different plumber, you may also be able to hire a plumbing contractor to come in and perform a final inspection. They'll not only ensure that the project has been efficiently completed, but also meets local and federal guidelines.