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plumber dilema


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I  am very happy to do things the French way but I have come across a bit of a dimema.

We have a very good plumber and have asked him to install our bathroom for us.

I talked the sales person in a bathroom shop to give me some furniture at a very good price.

It seems here that you use your plumber(artisan) to buy the stuff.  Problem was that our plumber wanted the price of the furniture to be 200 euros more (20%).  So I declined.

We then found furniture 50% off but he also declined saying only if we bought it 30% off.

To me this sounds mad, but he is very good we would not change him.  So, what I will probably do is to fit something myself when I next spot a bargain.

I guess this comes down to us English being bargain hunts and then pay sky high for a cowboy plumber.  Whereas here like a good meal, you pay more for the pleasure.


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Our French plumber charges us a very reasonable labour rate for a first class job and the parts are always charged out to me at the exact retail price, not a penny more.  He clearly buys the kit at trade discount (probably around 20%) to balance out his profit on the deal.  His service is excellent and I know that if I have an emergency, he will come out to me within ten minutes and not charge me extra, so I don't begrudge him that at all.

The real value is in our relationship...



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I don't get your plumber's line either.  Generally you get the artisan to buy the goods from the shop then you pay 5.5 per cent tax not 19.6 (assuming your place is old enough...).  Trouble is you then have to pay him to install it in order to avail of the cheaper rate tax.

Personally I'd rather pay the 19.6 and fit it myself!

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We also have a very good plumber who we would not want to lose. We asked him to change a bath/shower tap. The bill for the tap alone was €196 euro, without fitting!! As SD has said that's where he's making a lot of his money. Better to have someone a bit more expensive who comes when you ask, than someone cheap who never comes.

Reminds me of the old joke about the chap who is looking for a secondhand door for his car.

Goes to a scrapyard and asks the bloke:" how much are your doors?"

 "Ten quid".

"Have you got a driver'sdoor for a Mondeo".

 "No mate".

Goes to the next scrapyard: "have you got a driver's door for a Mondeo?"

"Yes, twenty quid"

"Twenty quid! - at the other place they're only ten quid"

"So why don't you get one there?"

"They haven't got any"

"Well, when we haven't got any ours are only ten quid"


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The difference between the 5.5 & 19.6 is another benefit... so there are a fair few benefits if you are a plumber.

Even the shop manager said you can buy it if you want but your plumber wont fit it...

So it seems to be 'thats how it works in France'

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The problem is that if you pay the Plumber say 25euro/hr you think he just puts that in his pocket

Reality in France for a plumber per 1000euros

55% material cost, 25% cotisitations, 20% profit

The 20% profit is on a good job, there are more bad jobs than good ones so the 20% becomes 10% or even 0%

A plumber on his own will turn over maybe 90k euros a year, that gives him 18k on a good year

Perhaps this is why he needs the margin on the material and it is just possible his not ripping you off

The material percentages vary for heating, plumbing, electrics etc but the principals are valid for all trades

I accept there are people out there who will rip you off, too many of them unfortunately, but there are alot of good people also who are only charging what is necessary to make a reasonable living

Le Plombier

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Our plumber is also our electrician and he buys all the electrics and pipes etc.. for plumbing but doesn't buy any sanitary ware at all and doesn't want to know. In fact, I am having trouble at the moment finding toilets with vertical exits through the floor versus the normal horizontal through the wall that he says he needs.[:(]

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Thank you Jane and Danny. I have actually been to Lapeyre and that is probably where I will buy them.

I thought they only have three though. For some reason the vertical exit is a lot more expensive for the same model with a horizontal exit. I want a decent quality and the better one at Lapeyre is over €400 and it looks like a lower quality one.

The plumber says the exit pipe is very acute as well and suggested the lowest price one because of the shape of the pipe, but I don't like it. However, after looking at other shops for a lot more money but of better quality the acute pipe may have to do. [8-)]

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