10 Budget-Friendly Tips for Replacing Plumbing and Fixtures

Performing plumbing repairs and replacing fixtures can eat up a property owner’s budget overnight. To save money, follow the steps below. The best bet is to find a reliable contractor, then respect his or her time by avoiding wasting it on unskilled tasks. DIY the small stuff, including sourcing the materials. Buying quality supplies, bundling jobs, and finding hidden deals can mean a much more budget friendly remodel or repair.

Find a Trustworthy Contractor

The “you get what you pay for” adage holds true when it comes to plumbing repairs and fixtures. A top-notch contractor can save big money by diagnosing problems fast and fixing them the first time. Plumbers with attractive, low hourly rates are more likely to log more hours than a higher-cost contractor. By the same token, be wary of experienced plumbers who farm the work out to less-than-skilled employees.

DIY Whatever You Can

Since plumbers get paid hourly, respecting their time means saving money. When contractors have to move furniture, relocate storage items, or do their own demo, they still earn a high hourly rate. Prep the area yourself or hire low-cost help. Removal of furniture and other items, doing simple demo, moving rugs, laying drop cloths, marking things for easier instruction, patching holes, and cleaning up after the work is done are all best handled by someone other than the plumber.

Buy it Yourself…

Plumbers often charge a premium for materials. Buying your own pipe, faucets, toilets, and other supplies will save the plumber having to do it. Does it really make sense to pay $75 an hour for a shopping trip? To save money on plumbing fixtures, get a list of materials the contractor will need, then shop around. Check LivingSocial, Groupon, and Angie’s List for deals. Also don’t underestimate the power of saving 5% on every purchase with a Lowes credit card.

…But Buy Quality

Finding deals on plumbing supplies can save money, but don’t do it at the expense of quality. The goal is to do repairs infrequently. Cutting corners with lower quality items doesn’t serve that goal.

Give serious consideration to PEX. It costs half as much as copper, and it takes less work (read: labor hours) to install. Some contractors don’t love it, so make sure to do a cost comparison of PEX vs copper for a few different plumbers.

Bundle Jobs

Yet another great way to save money on plumbing and fixtures is to bundle jobs. Plumbers charge a minimum rate just to show up. They also bill for trips to supply stores. Waiting to fix a dripping faucet until it’s time to swap out an energy-gobbling dishwasher or outdated toilet to can save on labor costs.

Have a Less Expensive Contractor for Simple Jobs

If you’re sensing a common theme here, you’re catching on. With a plumber’s time at a premium, one great way to save money when replacing and repairing plumbing fixtures is doing triage on the jobs on deck. Some property owners recommend having two trusted contractors: one who can do small, simple work inexpensively and another for the bigger, more important jobs. We don’t need to pay top dollar to swap out a leaky toilet valve or put in a new dishwasher, but an on-demand hot water heater is a different story. The ability to choose different price points for different needs can be a real money saver.

Other Ways to Save Money on Plumbing and Fixtures

Don’t overlook these other great ways to save money on plumbing repairs, remodels, and fixtures.

Perform Regular Maintenance. A little more money spent on repairs now can save on plumbing and fixtures long term. Do a regular check for cracks, leaks, drips and other problems that can snowball over time.

Go With Money Saving Fixtures. Some fixtures themselves can save money on plumbing in the long term. Consider low flow shower heads, water saving toilets, sink strainers and drain screens that cost very little to install but mean big savings down the road.

Don’t Move Existing Plumbing. Leaving sinks, bathtubs, toilets, dishwashers, and laundry hookups where they are during a remodel can save thousands.

Swap it out. Think about changing just the toilet seat and lid rather than ditching the entire fixture. A new seat and lid can make a toilet seem like new for just a fraction of the price.