I need to share with your readers my experience with a tradesman (plumber). I had some work done on remodeling a bathroom. The cost included 5.5 hours of labour at $39.50 an hour (which was fair enough I thought), but what I had not expected was the $653.06 charged for materials. When I queried the account they advised I was charged for material at the retail price. Problem was, I personally could go down to a plumbing supplies company and buy the goods at substantially less than retail by simply asking for a discount. For example, I could buy one of the items for $176.89 but was charged $277.13 for the very same item by the plumber. There are a couple of lessons to learn from this experience.

First, don’t be fooled into thinking all a tradesman is making on your job is their hourly rate. In my case, I estimate the plumber a profit of $236 on the materials (or another $42.90 per hour charged). In other words, they made as much on the materials as they did the their labour. They REAL cost of my plumber was therefore $82.40.

The second lesson is you can save a heck of a lot of money if you buy the materials yourself, rather than have your tradesman do it and charge you.