TLC Plumbing Inc
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California State License Board (CSLB)
Contractor License #717308
Most service firms will quote an hourly rate over the phone, but does that really tell you anything? What any homeowner really wants to know is, "How much will it cost me to fix my problem?"
Quoting an hourly rate might seem to provide a rough estimate. Yet, how often have you seen home repair jobs drag on for hour after hour with "the meter running"? Too many variables come into play, including the exact nature of the problem and the skill level of the service technician dispatched to your home.
Here are a few questions you should ask service and repair companies that quote hourly charges over the phone.
Most contractors will not be able to give a straight answer to this question. However, there are a few progressive contractors who do quote exact prices, guaranteed, once they perform a diagnosis. They will usually charge a modest up front fee for the diagnosis, though many waive the charge if they get the job. Nonetheless, it does remove the guesswork.
Ask for the contractors license number and proof of general liability and worker‘s compensation insurance. Most people do not realize that the homeowner can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker gets injured while working in a home.
On the flip side, in some states where licensing is required, a homeowner is not obligated to pay for any work done by an unlicensed contractor.
Time spent picking up parts not stocked on their service vehicle is typically charged to the job. Additionally, some companies may charge for the time it takes to get to the job depending on how far away it is.
Who will be doing the work?
It may be a master mechanic with many years of experience. It could also be a youngster with less than a year of experience - maybe even an apprentice filling in during an absence. Who does the work has a lot to do with how much you end up paying when rates are quoted on an hourly basis.
If the problem persists or reappears after the technician leaves, will the company come back to fix it at no extra charge - immediately?
Most companies will answer affirmatively to this question. However, most labor guarantees extend only a month and callbacks tend to be the lowest priority when service firms get busy.
Most service companies can't pinpoint their time of arrival closer than "morning” or “afternoon." This can get expensive if the homeowner has to take off a full or half-day of work.
Progressive service companies can many times pinpoint within an hour or two when their service technician will be at the door. If he or she does get delayed, these companies will call with an updated time of arrival.
Another useful gauge of a service firm's value is if there is even anybody available to answer these questions. Many contractors try to do business by using answering machines, promising to return calls at some undetermined time. This isn't much help to someone who needs an emergency repair right now.