When I was doing carpentry contracting and general contracting I never took a payment before I performed any work. To my mind it showed a lack of trust to the client and would start the relationship off on the wrong note.
The plumber knows where you live but you probably don't know where he lives. He's already got a leg up on you. Don't give him two!
If he doesn't have enough funds to buy materials out of pocket, do you want him doing work in your home?
Just my 2......hey, where's the 'cents' key on the keyboard?
It depends on the dollar amount of the job. If it's a couple hundred dollars he should be paid upon completion. If it is a few thousand dollars it is customary to pay 1/3 for supplies and to show good faith that you'll pay the rest. It is also customary to pay 1/3 at the halfway point ONLY IF you're satisfied with the work. If you're not don't pay until you are. Then pay the remainder at the end.
Also, be sure the plumber is getting building permits. It may cost a few extra bucks but will pay off in the long run because it won't come back to bite you later. If the contractor tells you you don't need them, call the City and make sure. A good contractor will get them if you request it.
It is normal to pay an initial deposit to get the work started, then a pro-rated portion of the fee based on the portion of the project completed.
Generally I would always recommend withholding at least 25% until there has been a final walk through.
More importantly, it is critical to have a clear understanding (meaning written) of the scope of the work and the time frame in which it is to be completed. In the trades their work is very much based on demand. That means that if your plumber is on a job, he schedules you, but something happens with the first job, he will try to balance the needs of both jobs (keeping both parties happy). So if there is an unforeseen problem in either job, talking about what needs to be done when is important.
If the plumber says that it will take five days, and comes to you on day four to tell you that he needs to go take care of an emergency call, just be prepared to negotiate and adjust. He's trying to make a living and knows that if you are happy you will provide him with referrals.
Were you happy with the answers you received? I am an electrical contractor in Chicago with a lot of experience and hopefully insight on this question, but I have felt that I often write a lot here that just goes out into cyberspace and is never read by anyone, a complete waste of time. But I would be very happy to talk about things with you iif you send a reply so I know you are out there listening!
Best of luck,
National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Mortgage Loan Officer, Credit Repair Lecturer
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We would agree with your agent's recommendation. One should always be a little suspicious of contractors that request money up front for a job. .....
What guarantee do you have that they will actually begin the work contracted for? There are other options that don't require you to assume this level of risk that provides them with materials to commence the work.
Most contractors have established credit with their vendors.......could this be a possible problem?
Proceed with care.