Choosing a plumber, especially during an emergency can be a little unnerving. How do you find someone you can trust, somebody who you can be confident will do good work? It can seem as difficult as choosing a doctor. Face it, most of us don’t know what separates a true pro from someone who is less than stellar.

Ultimately what we all want is to find a good plumber who will do good work, protect our home and give us real value for our dollar. How do we do that, and what should we look out for? Here are a couple of things to think about.

In a prior post, we talked about the value of using licensed, bonded and trained plumbers. They will deliver the most value because they have the knowledge required to do the job to code — in other words, to do it right. They will also be insured for liability as well as worker’s compensation in case someone is injured. This gives you a higher level of certainty.

Next, is to be aware of a tactic that some plumbers use. This tactic is to promote their business as a low-price leader, promising an initial low price as a way to get a job, often without telling you that the low price has a number of terms, conditions and hidden fees.

A true pro will be happy to provide you their hourly rate and present you with an estimate when they have done an inspection to determine the scope of the project. Some jobs are relatively straightforward, such as unclogging a kitchen sink or replacing a water heater. Others may require more time and effort.

Doubt can lead someone to choose the low-price leader, or someone who promises a low initial fee. But this can lead to sticker shock when a plumber presents a bill when the work is done. The cheapest up front may not be the best value long-term.

Here is an idea to consider. Look for the licensed and bonded plumber who works to earn a customer for life — whose workmanship and business practices are to the highest standards. These are plumbing contractors who may offer an initial discount, such as a lower rate for the first hour, as a way of saying “we know this is a challenging decision and we want to make it easy for you to get to know us.” But their mission is to do the job correctly the first time. Getting it done right is always the best value in the long run.