I know I'm inviting flames, but my mom's 50 gallon Nat Gas water heater
failed last night. I got her the same plumber who did ours a few years ago.
Yep, he came right out with a brand-new Bradford White Defender and did a
very nice job installing it, yes at 8PM on a Friday night. The price was
exactly what he quoted me, $925 installed. This is not a misprint. I almost
passed out when he made the quote, and I did tell him we could get through
the night without the heater if he wanted to do the job today (I know, still
a weekend call). He said it didn't make any difference.
This particular plumber is fairly well-known to be a quality guy, with
prices to match. He was quite insistent on the phone that I could call
anybody I wanted, and that I would find that he was in pretty much the same
ballpark as anyone else in the area. I don't remember how much he charged
for the job he did here. I'm acquainted with his brother through work, and
we know a lot of the same people, so due to his reputation, I didn't want to
waste his or my time, so I just told him to come on and get 'er done. He was
here for about an hour and 45 minutes. He told me that water heater prices
had gone up a number of times due to steel prices and the new sealed
combustion chambers, among other things. He did what I consider to be an
excellent job, installing a new ball valve on the intake so we didn't have
to mess with the old crusted closet valve, cleaning up after himself, etc,
but didn't remove the old heater from the property. I've seen quite a few
water heaters out front with the trash, so maybe they don't do that here.
We are in a nicer working-class suburb of NYC, have lived here since it
wasn't as affluent. I have no doubt whatsoever that although he is an
independent, his overhead is pretty high as far as shop space, taxes, fuel
etc. I get a pretty hefty pay when I work overtime, so I understand what it
means to be fairly paid.
He didn't break his price down parts/labor wise, and I guess I just want to
know two things:
1/ How much does a 50 gallon Bradford-White cost?, and
2/ If you were me (not a plumber), how much do you think is a fair
price for this job?
By the way, there's no "hidden story" here. The driveway he backed his van
into is literally 10 feet from the water heater, which is out in the open in
a large basement (no stairs). The weather was about 60 degrees out, no rain,
no screwed-up plumbing in the house. He used all the existing water lines,
etc. I had the hot water system almost fully drained and everything turned
off when he got there. He was gone from home maybe 2 1/2 hours. I know where
he lives, right by his shop, it's 15-20 minutes away from Mom's.
I mean, I'm thinking, OK, $100 per hour from the time you leave home seems
decent, so $925 minus $250 leaves $675 for the water heater. Something seems
outta whack here....
I know one guy will say "I wouldn't leave home on a Friday night for less
than $500", and another will say "You been HAD". Who's right?
I'm trying to do the right thing by wasting YOUR 3 minutes reading this, and
not calling some poor guy on the "24 hour emergency" line to waste his time
making me a quote. Job's already done anyway.