The real costs of home repairs

John the Plumber


December 4, 2021

A customer asked me how much it cost to install a new 40 gallon water heater.

I answered him: $1,450.

He said: Why so much??

I asked: How much do you think it should cost you?

He answered me: $500 maximum...I can get a new one from the hardware store for $400.

Me: For $500 I invite you to do it yourself.

Him: But.... I don’t know how to.

Me: You can watch a video on YouTube or for $800 I’ll teach you how to. So besides saving you $450, you’ll get the knowledge for the next time you need to do this type of plumbing work.

It seemed right to him and he agreed.

Me: But to get started, you’ll need tools: a dolly, a torch, channel locks, drill motor and copper cutter, a box cutter or knife.

Him: But I don’t have all that equipment and I can’t buy all of them for one job.

Me: Well then for $100 more I’ll rent my stuff to you so you can do it.

Him: Okay

Me: Alright. I’ll be at your house tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Him: But I can’t tomorrow. I have to work.

Me: I’m sorry, but I’m only available tomorrow to teach you and lend you my stuff. Other days are busy with other customers.

Him: Okay. But that means I’m going to have to sacrifice my day at work and lose money.

Me: You’ll also need to purchase supply lines, gas line for a sediment trap, expansion tank, earthquake strap, and some copper pipe and fittings.

Him: Okay, how much will all that cost?

Me: You can buy all that for about $175.

Him: Wait...I need to pick all that stuff up?

Me: Yes, along with the water heater.

Him: But I don’t have a truck!

Me: Ok. For $25 I’ll let you rent my truck to pick it up. For another $25 you can use it to take the old water heater to the dump. You’ll also need a permit. Permit fees are anywhere between $35-$90 depending on where your home is located.

Him: I need to haul away the old heater? Oh, okay, I guess. How do I get a permit?

Me: Prior to COVID, we would just go to the city or county offices but now everything is done online.

Him: Can you show me how to do that?

Me: I pay my office staff to do that. If you come in to the office, I’ll have one of them train you for $10.

Him: Oh geeze! When am I supposed to find the time to do that? You know, I’ve been thinking. I’d rather pay you the $1,450. I just don’t have the time or knowledge to deal with all of this.

When you pay for a service, you pay not only for the material used, but also:

• Knowledge

• Experience

• Tools

• Accountability

• Professionalism

• Accuracy

• Permits

• Safety and security

• Payment of tax obligations

• Fuel

• Insurance

Actual cost of a job is much higher than just the price of the item.

Only by knowing all the elements necessary for the production of certain work can you estimate the actual cost.

If you need a plumber, call John the Plumber at (661) 823-8031. You can also email him at or send him a message via his John the Plumber Facebook page.


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