Plumbing Cost Guide for Retrofit and New House Construction

Plumbing is an essential part of many remodels, as well as new construction projects. Toilets, sinks, tubs, water heaters and sewer lines are all indispensable for a functioning house.

Depending on the job, plumbing costs can vary greatly, from just a few hundred dollars to install a new kitchen sink to thousands of dollars for putting in new drainage or a septic tank.

Lets take a look at plumbing prices for the most popular projects in the bathroom, kitchen and around the house.

How much does it cost to hire a plumber?

Homeowners report spending an average of $250-500 for basic plumbing work or repairs. This can involve things like installing a toilet, sink or faucet, repairing a leaking pipe or clogged drain.

Most licensed plumbers charge $70-90 per hour for labor. Master plumbers may charge as much as $120 per hour for their work.

Flat service fee for a house call

Many companies have a flat service fee to come out for a house call. Prices range from $150 to 350, depending on your location. This fee covers the inspection of the issue and the first hour of work. After that, you will be charged the regular hourly rate, unless its an emergency repair. Service calls cover basic plumbing services such a repairing a faucet or toilet leak, unclogging a drain, etc.

Travel fees

Some plumbers also charge a separate travel fee. This can range from $50 – 200 depending on the distance they need to travel. This fee covers their spending gas, car maintenance and insurance. Many pros don’t openly disclose this charge, and instead roll it into their hourly rates and services fees.

Cost of emergency plumbing jobs

If you have a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe and water leaking all over the floor, you should immediately call a plumber. Many companies charge $75-100 per hour on top of their regular labor rate. Others do a time and half, double, or triple hourly rate up-charge depending on the time of day, weekend or holiday hours.

So you can expect to pay $150-400 per hour for an emergency repair of a plumbing fixture or pipe (excluding any materials). Most plumbers provide a 24 hour emergency service.

Keep in mind that local labor rates can vary greatly. States with high income rates and real estate prices will have plumbers charging 20-25% more than the national reported averages. On the other hand, lower income areas will also have much lower labor rates, compared to the national average.

This is why you should always get quotes from local pros, if you want a really accurate estimate for your plumbing project.

Bathroom plumbing installations

Major bathroom remodels as well as new bathroom additions require hiring a plumber. If its a brand new bathroom, you may be able to get a bundle discount if you combine jobs.

Here is how much you can expect to spend on professional labor when installing or replacing the following items (estimate DOES NOT include the cost of the fixture):

Bathtub: $1,500 – 2,000
Jacuzzi/whirlpool tub: $1,300 – 2,200
Shower enclosure: $1,200 – 2,000
Replace shower head: $75 – 150
Replace shower/tub control valve: $200 – 400
New piping: $1,000 – 2,500
Sink: $300 – 450
Point of use water heater under the sink: $300 – 450
Replace sink drain: $100 – 200
Toilet: $300 – 400
Replace toilet handle: $80 – 120
Faucet: $200 – 275
Re-rout a single pipe line: $650 – 900

Kitchen plumbing installs

Plumbing work will most certainly be required during a kitchen remodel.

Kitchen sink: $320 – 400
Replace sink drain: $100 – 200
Faucet: $200 – 300
New gas line for oven: $200-450
Garbage disposal: $150 – 200
Install gas pipes: $600-1,000
Replace old pipes: $1,000 – 2,500
New dishwasher with plumbing: $400 – 600
Replace existing dishwasher: $200 – 350
Install ice maker line for fridge: $200 – 300
Point of use water heater under the sink: $300 – 450
Gas barbecue for an outdoor kitchen: $2,600 – 3,000

Heating and water systems

Our homes can’t run smoothly without heat and water. Here is how much plumbers charge to install these vital systems:

Install a water heater tank: $400-1,200
Tankless water heater: $900 – 1,600
Solar water heater: $3,000 – 6,500
Install a water main: $1,500 – 4,000
Water treatment purification system: $1,100 – 1,900
Install drainage: $2,300 – 3,800
Replace a holding tank: $1,700 – 2,800
Sump pump (usually installed in the lower level (basement) of the house and helps move water away from the foundation): $800 – 1,300. Also, keep in mind that a pedestal sump pump will cost less to install than a submersible one.

Septic and sewer installs

Installing new septic and sewer systems can be one of the most expensive plumbing projects. Because its such a heavy financial investment, its very important to research all your local building codes and regulations regarding these systems, before going forward with the installation.

Its also very important to hire a plumber who specializes in septic systems. Mistakes in the tank’s sizing and placement can be extremely costly and damaging to your property.

Moreover, you will need to periodically pay for cleaning your septic tank to make sure that there is no overflow.

Here are average sewer and septic system installation prices:

New septic tank: $3,500 – 5,000. However, if your property has a very large leach field and if you have a big house, you can end up paying as much as $10,000-12,000 for a big septic tank.

Install a sewer line (it will carry waste water from your home to your town’s main sewer line): $2,500 – 3,800. If there is a very long distance between your sewer line and the main connector, you can spend as much as $6,000-7,000 on materials and labor.

Permit to install a sewer line: average cost is $900. However, prices for sewer permits vary widely depending on the town, from as low as $400 to as much as $1,500.

Cost of plumbing repairs

Leaking water anywhere in the house is a huge problem and should be taken care of right away, before major damage is done.

Also, if you have an older house, you should expect that at some point either the pipes or the various plumbing fixtures will start to corrode, break and leak. Timely repairs and any necessary replacements are the best strategy to prevent more expensive plumbing work.

Here are common plumbing problems that can happen in any house and how much pros charge to fix them:

Replace plumbing main stack: $1,700 – 4,200 depending on the material you want to use. Brass and cast iron are most expensive but can also last close to 100 years.

Replace main water shut off valve: $175 – 300
Replace sink trap (p-trap): $250 – 350
Repair gas piping: $500 – 900
Repair a sewer line: $1,450 – 3,200
Repair a storage water heater: $400 – 700
Remove a holding tank: $650 – 1,300
Repair a drain line breakage: $700 – 1,100
Clear a clogged drain: $250 – 400
Replace drain pipe under the sink: $200 – 300
Repair a sump pump: $400 – 700
Clear a sewer main: $195 – 450
Repair a septic tank: $850 – 1,500
Clean septic tank: $350 – 500
Repair a toilet: $180 – 250

Plumbing cost in a new construction home

If you are building a house, putting in all new plumbing will cost $12,000 – 16,000. This estimate is for a 2,000 sq.ft. home with 2 bathrooms. Having a larger house, more bathrooms, and outdoor kitchen, a pool, or an indoor sauna will greatly increase your total cost.

In case you want to replace the entire system of pipes in an existing house, your costs will be $4,000 – 10,000, depending the quality of the piping materials.

If you are installing all new pipe and drainage lines, consider the durability and longevity of the materials you will be using.

Brass and copper pipes last the longest, about 80-100 years. Next is galvanized steel, lasting 70-80 years. There is also PEX piping, which lasts 50-70 years and is the cheapest option.

Which piping material should you install in your house?

Today, most homeowners who are installing or replacing pipes in the whole house decide between either PEX or copper piping. Each has its own pros and cons, but in recent years more and more people prefer PEX pipes.

PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene, and is a relatively new, high tech piping material, compared to classic metal pipes, which have been used for hundreds of years. Its only in the last 15-20 years that PEX pipes have gained popularity in residential construction. Today, more and more homeowners are becoming aware of this piping material and are preferring it to other options.

Pipe prices per linear foot

One of the biggest points of attraction is that Pex pipes are significantly cheaper than copper pipes.

One linear foot of good quality 0.5 inch PEX piping is $0.30-0.40. On the other hand, Type L copper pipe (thicker copper) costs $1.10 per linear foot for a 0.5 inch pipes. There is also Type M, thinner copper (not recommended), which costs $0.8 per linear foot.

Whiles prices depend on the size of the pipes (bigger sizes are more costly), homeowners report saving at least $3,000-5,000 on a whole house pipe replacement, compared to the cost of copper pipes.

There is a clear price difference when it comes to the two materials, but the biggest savings actually comes from installation costs. Most homes will not have more than 300-500 feet of tubing or piping for both hot and cold water. 500 feet is the equivalent of 2 kitchens and 3 bathrooms. However, it takes a lot longer and is much harder to solder copper pipes vs. crimping PEX connections.

Another advantage of PEX is that they are also much faster and easier to install. Because Pex pipes are a flexible material, they are actually less prone to leaks compared to other piping. Pex are also quieter than other types of pipes and are more resistant to breaking under extreme temperature fluctuations.

Copper pipes also have a number of important advantages. While being more expensive, they are also the longest lasting pipes out there, if correctly installed. Copper pipes can be installed both inside and outside the house. They are corrosion, fire and bacteria resistant.

On the down side, copper pipes are very expensive, both because copper metal itself is expensive, and because the installation requires more expertise and takes longer. There is also a greater chance of leaks due to faulty installation. Other potential issues are metalic tasting water, slight chance of corrosion, and the possibility of breakage in freezing freezing temperatures.

Tips on hiring a qualified plumber

If you have a big plumbing project coming up, you may be overwhelmed by the costs as well as how to find the right plumber for the job. Here are a few suggestions on how to find a qualified plumber and pay a fair price for his work.

1. Avoid hiring a handy man to do plumbing installs or repairs. While this may be very tempting because you can save as much as 50% on labor (generally handy men charge 45-55 per hour compared to 70-90+ per hour charges by licensed plumbers), it can backfire and cost more to repair the mistake.

2. Contact at least 3-4 local plumbers to come out and give you a free estimate. Ask for a detailed break down of labor hours, service fees, and material costs.

3. Its typically not a good idea to go for a low-ball estimate, as this may be an indication that the plumber has a problem with his license or likes to cut corners and will do a quick hack job. Very expensive quotes may be an indication that this contractor is very busy, has a solid reputation and charges this rate just because he can.

4. Ask for 2-3 references of recently completed jobs that are similar to what you plan on doing in your home. Don’t be lazy and actually call these people to find out if they are happy with the plumber’s work quality as well as business ethics.

5. Its best to hire a pro who specializes and has experience in the particular project you are looking to do. While there are many general plumbing jobs that pretty much any licensed plumber would be qualified for, others require expertise. These include doing whole house piping, sewer lines, septic systems and gas lines.

6. Once you select a plumber, be sure to draw up a detailed contract that includes a complete scope of work, projected time of completion, materials prices, labor charges, warranty, etc. Don’t sign if the contract is vague and doesn’t provide enough details. You have the right to ask for a contract that protects you as a homeowner.

7. If this is a big job that requires a couple of people, request that a foreman or a master plumber be present to supervise, at least part of the time.

About Yelena G

Yelena G. has been working in the remodeling and construction industry for over 15 years. Her focus is on construction planning and design as well as project cost estimating. Yelena also has a personal interest in interior design, as well as in unique DIY remodeling projects. Read more about Yelena

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