Average hourly rate for electrical and plumbing work?

Question Icon
Posted by: from Simcoe
11/26/2014 at 6:46:46 PM

We recently did a home reno and hired a local company to do electrical and plumbing. He verbally quoted that the job would be upwards of $2000. He said that was at the high end and it wouldn't be that much but $2000 was safe.

4 days with about 21 hours of work into it we got a bill for double. He says things came up and all the extra's were extra and I shouldn't expect things for free.

If $2000 was the high end it should have left him room for those unexpected things and if we were over that he should have at least said something.

What I am wondering is what is the average hourly rate for someone to do 21 hours of electrical/plumbing work? We got a breakdown of materials but labour is one huge lump sum.

User Icon
Michael from MASTROsecur Inc in Toronto
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 8:08:40 PM


I am not sure what the unexpected could be or means? But would love to know if an explanation was given to you. At times, these are the type of contractors that give the honest working ones issues with all the non sense they cause like this one.

With respect to rates for contractor Plumber and or Electrician should not exceed 45$/hr that is for lic'd contractors.

Hope all works out!


User Icon
Mary in Simcoe
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 8:18:56 PM

He said he didn't expect the issues in the attic (it is a tight space which he had full access to view during the quote) The shower door took longer and then said taxes are not included in quotes and on renos unexpected is expected. The he reminded me that this was for both hydro and plumbing. Which is confusing since he didn't quote me 2 different prices just one for all the work, so why make a point to differentiate them now?

His labour alone BEFORE taxes was $2700.00.

User Icon
Robert from ElecTriLight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 8:55:16 PM

Fully licensed Electrical contractors can easily charge $65-$90 per hour depending on staff, overhead, specialization, etc, etc. Plumbers are near the same price. But one guy saying he is able to do both for you??.. I don't know many licensed electricians who play with water too...

You should have received a contract and signed off on what would be agreed to and a clause talking about any issues within walls COULD lead to further costs, not a bill after claiming there were many problems.

Ask for the list of issues and proof of materials.

Normally labor is 60-70% of these invoices, $4000 doesn't tally up.

User Icon
Mary in Simcoe
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 9:21:37 PM

Apparently he doesn't have xray vision -- he isn't a super hero and cannot see the unforeseen. (according to his recent message)

He admits to not warning me but then goes on to say he likes to complete the job as if it were mine -- Um shouldn't that be MY call? not his if he wants me to pay for it?

The interesting part is where he say he can't quote the unforeseen and if he did he wouldn't get many jobs.

Things like this happen all the time in renos.

He took $350 off and said that is all he can do -- he doesn't work for free

But even with the $350 off our bill is over $3500.00 :(

If someone can look at the bill for me that might be helpful -- I just don't want to post it here.

Can you do private messaging on here?

User Icon
Robert from ElecTriLight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 9:25:54 PM

Are you in Ontario or BC?

My contact page is there. I can look at it for you.

User Icon
Mary in Simcoe
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 10:18:40 PM

Ontario - I will submit a contact form?

User Icon
Robert from ElecTriLight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time11/26/2014 at 10:22:18 PM


IS he licensed to do electrical work??

User Icon
Date/Time11/30/2014 at 11:03:35 AM

Hi Mary,

I am sorry you had a surprise bill at the end of the work. I know that nobody should work for free (in his words) however, if there was no written estimate of the work involved, or written explanation as to what the extras were, there is no transparency in this job at all. Also if there is no written contract, there is also no written proof that you agreed to pay $2000 or $12000 in work to be done. There is great need in this industry for both to change, protect yourselves as homeowners and get it in writing, and honest contractors will do just that and have no problems conveying the scope of work and when issues arise that will be extra cost.

If you get an estimate in writing, and no work changes, or no written change orders have been signed by you, than the contractor is only allowed to add an additional 10% onto the estimate to cover those added extras without needing written consent. It sounds like an unfortunate situation, however I think it will be a lesson moving forward in this regards.

As for the hourly rate of a quality, licensed contractor, especially in plumbing and electrical, I would say $60 would be low low end and $90 or so on the higher end, but all are in the appropriate ranges as Robert has pointed out. Now for Michaels response that either of these contractors should NEVER exceed $45 an hour is sooo off base, and unfortunately soo wrong, that those are what give people a very unrealistic sense of costs.

A licensed journeyman, non master electrician should be making between $35-$45 an hour, plus a 4% vacation pay, plus 9% WSIB, plus any benefits that larger company may or may not be covering for this employee, plus a companies overhead and profit. Then if the electrican is a master, he can be upwards of $50 an hour plus all the things I have mentioned prior.

Also, to have another contractor re-view another contractors billing, or quote, as they have nothing to do with the work being down is also wrong and unethical in my opinion. It is like in the car industry, a car salesman that makes a deal, a customer is unhappy and takes it to another sales person, under OMVIC law that second sales person can lose their license due to the facts that they are not involved in the decision making process and discussions involved between the two parties. I think that whoever reviews it will be biased to gain work themselves.

User Icon
Date/Time11/30/2014 at 11:09:30 AM

I think that if you want questions answered to the best of your ability, just talk to friends, neighbors co-workers and ask them about costs they had when doing similar work or i similar situations. As well, go to the ESA to ask them some questions. I think unless the work was shotty, or very poor and lead to some sort of disaster, I think the prices charged are all fair if that is what a person feels they should charge and are worth, Having another contractor look it over and discuss it with you is unethical of the second contractor in my opinion, unless you have that second contractor come out and quote you on exact work, with the previous quote site unseen, then deliberations can begin as to why or why not.

I think your best course of action is to go back to whatever written contract you have with this contractor, see if there were any extras or clauses in the contract that you may or may not have signed noticed etc and if there is any course of action. If there was no contract, or written consent to extras than moving forward you really do not HAVE to pay the contractor anything, but in fairness to everyone involved, he did do work, and if it is satisfactory to you, the minimum payment should be the $2000, and he should definitely have an open dialogue with you regarding the changes and extras, and come up with a solution that is mutually satisfactory. I think this will be a good lesson moving forward though with contractors, and your and their obligations during the process.

User Icon
Alan in Calgary
Date/Time6/6/2017 at 12:19:20 AM

Do a bit of reading on google and youtube how to install then you have an idea to find out if the guy is a cowboy plumber. I got 5 quotes to level basement floor: $50,000 from HomeDepot, $30,000 from another, $10,000 fr another, $6,000 and the last guy $2,800 and the floor was flat as I expected.

Before the work begins, makes sure he writes a contract with the price and a permit from city, that way, he can't cheat or the city will suspend his license.

User Icon
Daniel in Toronto
Date/Time5/2/2018 at 12:56:34 AM

Plumbing and electrical are not jobs you earn from reading a book and getting certified in few months, they are professions and require a lot of skill, training and hard 'yakka' as the Australians like to say.

I have worked for plumbers, including my dad, and it is bloody hard on the body, requires more tooling than almost any other trade (expensive tooling too) and is very hard on the body as any trade is.

I think the government in Ontario sets the rates, which is a joke in my opinion, but if you feel you've been ripped off, ask for a more detailed invoice based on the journeyman published set fees and or complain to their representative body and fair trading bodies.

The average rate for a plumber is $45/hr so I read. Well in Australia its more than double that and in some cases upward of $150/hr.

It really isn't fun, easy work, not one bit. Do you know how many drain blockages I've seen and worked on where I have hot ones flying up from the gully or boundary traps?? It was enough for me to say, "no thanks". Digging up drain pipes filled with excrement, swollen bloody tampons and the rest, back so sore you think you've been lifting an overweight circus freak all day... it's no picnic.

Not many people would like this work, believe me. Not many. Builders in Ontario if you ask, who are 'honest', are sometimes chumps because they are working for peanuts sometimes given the nature and hazards of the work. Go to Australia guys, get a 'ute' and set yourselves up and make 200k a year instead of 65k/year...

Always keep and eye on your tradies without getting in their face and be explicit that you want to see the pricing guidelines for all work beforehand and have a detailed time sheet for every day they put in or you aren't interested in hiring them.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get quotes from top-rated contractors