Starting up your own plumbing business

People always need good plumbers and in recent years joining the plumbing and heating industry has become more and more attractive. Starting your own plumbing business, either as a sole trader, a franchisee or by registering your own limited business, can make solid business sense.

How to get started

There are around 120,000 registered plumbing and heating engineers in the UK and, if you’re thinking of starting your own plumbing business, you really need to be one of them.

Before anything else you’ll need to decide what services you wish to offer – defining which type of plumbing business you’ll become. You may want to provide traditional plumbing services or specialise in a particular area, such as renewables or water recycling.

Having knowledge of the industry with several years of experience is a good idea before starting your business. If you’re looking to set up a larger concern as a business opportunity without any knowledge you may choose instead to take on a partner to advise you in this side of the business. As with all businesses once you have decided on the plumbing services to offer you’ll need to do some basic groundwork before you start up including:

Legislation

As a general plumber you won’t need a licence to work, but it’s worth having a good working knowledge of UK water regulations and building regulations. Remember that if you’re dealing with gas appliances it is a legal requirement to be on the Gas Safe Register. This used to be known as ‘CORGI registered’ and was well known under this name.

You may wish to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), but remember that they don’t accept members unless they are qualified to at least NVQ level 2. It’s recommended that you reach NVQ level 3 before starting your own business. And if you’re working on solid fuel or oil appliances you may wish to seek accreditation from HETAS (for biomass and solid fuel domestic heating) and OFTEC (for oil and renewable heating technologies). Remember to ensure you have had appropriate training for renewable technologies, either from the manufacturers or through a third party training company.

As an employer you also have an obligation to comply with Health and Safety legislation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

You’ll also need to keep a regular check on the electrical equipment your business uses – from disk cutters and drills to cable detectors and anything else that requires electricity to work. These appliances must checked by an electrician – Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) every two years and it’s worth carrying out regular visual checks on the wiring and plugs yourself.

If you employ staff you’re obliged to take out employer’s liability insurance and you’ll need public and products liability insurance too. These will protect you should a member of the public sustains an illness or injury as a result of the work that you do.

Qualifications needed

While there is no requirement for you to have a plumbing qualification to start your own plumbing business it’s a good idea to gain recognition from industry bodies and you won’t be able to do this without minimum qualification levels. Gaining at least your NVQ level 3 with a reputable training provider, as well as qualifications around the industry, are recommended.

Finance

Starting your own plumbing business doesn’t need to be expensive. If you’re already a plumber you’ll probably already have a good number of the tools you need and any staff you employ are likely to have their own too. You will need a reliable and secure van or other vehicle to get you and your tools from A to B.

Your average earnings are likely to be around £30,000 to £40,000 a year, while some hard working plumbers command much more. You will need to take into account your business costs when considering your earnings and these include:

  • Premises – you may not need business premises if you’re setting up a smaller concern.

  • Fixtures and fittings for the premises.

  • Utilities and services for the premises.

  • Van or other vehicle.

  • Equipment.

  • Training.

  • Insurance.

  • Registration and accreditation fees.

  • Employees.

If you’re contracting to the construction industry you’ll need to consider the implications of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), which involves your tax being taken at source.

It’s also worth remembering to register for VAT if your turnover is over the threshold. 

Setting up your plumbing business as a limited company

Starting your plumbing business as a limited company is easy, especially with the help of a formations agent. When you choose to register your business using the help of The Formations Company you can be registered with Companies House and ready for business in as little as three hours.

 

Not yet ready to form? No problem - check out our handy company formation guides for step-by-step advice first.

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