Why Do Unlicensed Plumbers Charge So Much? | pub singapores national water agency logo vector
Why Do Unlicensed Plumbers Charge So Much? | Final 20221012
Unlicensed Plumbers

When you pay a plumber after they do the work you hired them for, it contributes to much more than just the plumber’s bank account. It gives him the ability to drive to your house and ensures that your call will be picked up when you call the company, even if it is in the middle of the night on any given day. It provides for the equipment needed to fix even the most complicated or technical plumbing problems.

It is understood that the total number of PUB Licensed Plumbers stand at about 1,000 as of 2022.


Many of these companies are multinational and public listed. They would undertake to carry out the biggest projects in Singapore and are paying the best money for these top grade Licensed Plumbers.

Next down the list would be working for medium to small BCA registered companies doing residential, commercial or industrial projects etc. Homeone is one example. They are usually very experience and get paid among the best remuneration package for works like site progress meeting, submission of design to PUB and Certificate of Satisfactory Completion when it is done. They are usually very familiar with design software such as AutoCAD and working through PUB e-service platform on regular basis.

The above would account for about 40% of the total number.

There are a small group of Licensed Plumbers, maybe 10%, who would come out on their own after having worked in the above mentioned companies, opening a company, register it with BCA and have a pool of skilled workers to do PUB regulated works in accordance with the PUB requirements.

All the above companies invest heavily in the equipment needed ; this includes everything from tools, transport, insurance, to various overhead expenses. It also includes the continuous education and training, so that you receive the best service. Quotations from these companies would often be the highest.

About 10% of the Licensed Plumber would be self-employed doing small plumbing jobs that are not under the Regulated works category due to lack of resources and skills comply and to do the PUB submission.

They may carry out Regulated works but usually not authorized by PUB and it is NOT legal. Due to their low efficiency and the high cost of operation in Singapore, their charges could sometimes be higher than the bigger companies.

The rest of the Licensed Plumbers would often be peddling part times jobs like driving a Grab and lending their license details to be listed on some online Plumbing advertisers claiming to be doing Licensed works but often don’t comply with the law.

It is primarily for these six reasons that plumbers are so expensive. Read on for further insight and depth on the matter.

How much do Unlicensed plumbers charge per hour?

This is usually based on the scope and the time of the service.  The average hourly rate for Unlicensed plumbers in the Singapore is between S$40 and S$60 including traveling time. They usually have a basic charge for a minimum for an hour’s work. Additional time is charged after that, for however long you choose to avail the service. It can be per fifteen minutes, per half-hour, or an hour. Generally, plumbing prices are lower by 30% if jobs are planned well ahead.

1. Education and training

Plumbing requires technical expertise and experience. Becoming a licensed plumber takes years of training. Attending the BCA Builder Certificate course in Plumbing and Pipe-Fitting that will take about a year. Here, they receive on-the-job training. They then work another two years before taking the exam if they want to become a they can apply to PUB to become a Licensed Plumber.

Trainee plumbers go through countless hours of training and licensing exams just to perfect the safest ways of fixing stuff around your house. So, it is only fair that they get paid relatively high for all that they have invested in it.

2. Demand

Most plumbing calls happen at the last second and is due to an emergency. It is no wonder that plumbers charge so much. They are expected to leave everything they are doing and fix your problem immediately to prevent further damage. Quite often, this can also be after a long hard day of work, as most of these house calls don’t happen during business hours. Besides that, having an emergency at hand will always come with a higher price, and that’s not something related only to plumbers.

Plumbing companies sometimes charge a higher premium in emergency cases to compensate the plumbers for the extra effort and offer them an incentive, which is only fair. Other companies don’t charge extra for after-hours service; however, they make up for the extra cost in the form of higher rates all around. Furthermore, skilled plumbers are in high demand, so plumbing companies must offer competitive pay to employ a licensed & highly skilled plumber.

3. Travel expenses

A plumber has to come to wherever you are, which essentially means transportation costs. They come to you in their insured van stocked with equipment. On a busy day, a plumber can easily drive almost 100 km in total, so petrol gets used up quickly. The plumber or plumbing company has many costs of transportation; these include the cost of fuel, stocking up the van, and the ongoing care and maintenance of the van. The plumber must also purchase and renew his vehicle insurance for long mileage as well as public liability insurance. Between the purchasing, fueling, and maintenance of these vans, lots of money is spent on transportation costs alone.

4. Staff

Running a medium to large plumbing company is far from a one-person job; it is so much more than just fixing pipes. Without full-time employees, the company would not be fully functional. Office staff members have multiple duties including answering phone calls at odd hours, arranging the schedule, keeping track of all accounting and bookkeeping, updates on the website and advertising, maintaining the detailed database of customer records, ensuring that all the technicians are fully prepared for the day’s jobs, and so much more. 24-hour availability of emergency services and effective communication would not be possible if it weren’t for the office staff. With a whole team of staff to pay, it is justifiable that plumbers are expensive. Even an independent plumber will have overhead costs that he or she may outsource.

5. Tools

Plumbers have to keep a wide range of tools and supplies on them at all times in order to deal with all sorts of unexpected problems and issues. Many plumbing problems require specialised tools. While many plumbing tools are available at local hardware stores, those tools are generally made with cheaper parts and a one-size-fits-all approach. Thus the tools he or she has to get can only be bought from a professional plumbing supplier and do not come cheap.

They generally cost 2 to 3 times more than the average tool you see at the hardware store, not to mention they frequently deteriorate and must be replaced. Many plumbers also have costly, high-tech equipment that requires a special kind of training to use. Some examples of such equipment are full-colour sewer cameras, a high-pressure sewer jetter, and backflow testing equipment. What you pay the plumber goes to help offset those costs.

6. Dangers

Plumbing can be a risky job. It is illegal for handyman to carry out regulated plumbing and sanitary jobs if he is unlicensed plumbers or not operate under the direct supervision of one.

Violator can be fined up to S$10,000 under the Public Utility Act 2001.

This is because bad plumbing jobs can be potentially dangerous. Imagine there is a water storage tank rapture and hot water pouring down to the person taking the shower.

For sanitary job, sewage, bacteria, toxic chemicals, etc. extra precautions must be taken so that they don’t fall sick or endanger others. Every day, there’s a new job, and a plumber has no way of knowing what dangers they will face that day, but regardless they must jump in and save the day. Some of these tasks can even be physically dangerous, like moving through loft space with no support structure. Therefore, it’s only fair that plumbers are relatively expensive.

For these reasons, you may feel that plumbers are expensive, but it is important to keep in mind their many costs such as transport, tools, materials, paying the rest of the staff, as well as their rigorous education and training in the field, not to mention the risks and dangers associated with the job itself.

Unlicensed Plumbers
Unlicensed Plumbers
Unlicensed Plumbers
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