What’s the Difference Between the Residential vs. Commercial Plumbing Quoting Process?

Accurate plumbing quotes are the backbone of any commercial or residential plumbing gig. They guide budget decisions, resource allocations, and material orders. Whether it's a brand new home, a bustling business, or a large apartment building, getting those numbers right is key. But when it comes to residential and commercial plumbing quotes, both processes are very different.

How the approach to quoting differs

The approach to residential vs. commercial plumbing quotes is quite different because they both have very different needs. Let’s dive into them below.

Differences in scope and complexity

Commercial plumbing: In the world of commercial plumbing, dealing with larger structures demands a unique set of skills and know-how. Think massive apartment complexes, big offices, and industrial spaces. The sheer size and complexity of these projects mean we're not just dealing with your average plumbing job. 

Commercial projects call for a wider lens. In spots like large apartment complexes, plumbers broaden their scope beyond just one-off setups. They have to look at the bigger picture of infrastructure.

They’re dealing with intricate installations and navigating through a maze of regulations to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely. The size and complexity of each commercial project mean that the quote will be more detailed and comprehensive, reflecting the extensive planning, specialised materials, and skilled labour required to complete the job efficiently and up to code.

Residential plumbing: Residential plumbers deal with smaller, simpler projects like repairs, installations, and routine maintenance. Common tasks include fixing leaks, installing water heaters, and maintaining plumbing fixtures. The main focus on these types of projects is on essential elements like water sources, plumbing layout, and fixture installation. 

Think of a typical home or apartment: a bathroom with hot and cold water taps, a showerhead, a bathtub, and a drain. When quoting for residential projects, it’s less about meticulously measuring every pipe and connection. Residential plumbers focus more on quantifying the essential elements.

As a result, residential quotes are typically more straightforward and less detailed compared to commercial quotes, which must account for larger scale, more complex installations.

Groundplan plumbing quantity page

Timeframes and working hours

Commercial plumbing: Commercial plumbers often navigate longer timeframes and varying hours, typically working outside of regular hours to reduce disruption in commercial spaces. 

This difference significantly impacts the quoting process. For commercial projects, quotes need to account for scheduling flexibility, potential overtime costs, and the necessity of having access to plans at any time, especially during off-hours when buildings are closed.

Take Zane Britton of Bay of Islands Plumbing and Gas, who uses Groundplan to streamline processes from Pre-Builds to Takeoffs. Having 24/7 access to plans enhances client communication, transparency and an understanding of the proposed work.

“If there's an on-site change or variation, our team can handle it immediately by marking the drawing. This quick turnaround ensures the tradesmen can continue working without any downtime. It’s very efficient and professional. Without Groundplan, we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Residential plumbing: Residential plumbers have the flexibility of working regular 9-5 hours during the week. Their quotes can assume standard working hours, which results in simpler scheduling and fewer disruptions. 

Documentation and regulatory requirements

Commercial plumbing: These projects require extensive documentation, including detailed floor plans, site plans, structural plans, and hydraulic designs. They must also obtain permits and approvals from local councils or relevant government bodies and adhere to stringent regulations, including health and safety standards and environmental regulations. 

The following documentation is typically required for commercial projects:

  • A floor plan of the proposed building
  • A plan showing the elevations of the proposed building
  • A site plan indicating distances from boundaries
  • Structural plans 
  • Extinguishers Energy Efficiency Design Report and Certification 
  • Soil Test Report
  • QLeave (Portable Long Service leave) – Construction with a value over $150,000
Hydraulic design

Residential plumbing: Residential plumbing projects require fewer permits and less detailed documentation. And while these plans do need to meet local building codes and standards, commercial plumbing typically requires much more detailed documentation. 

The residential vs. commercial plumbing process 

Residential projects: 

  • The project will start with planning the plumbing system. How many water sources are needed? How should the plumbing layout be arranged?
  • Walls and floors are prepared for the installation of drainage and water pipes. 
  • The rough in process begins. This is when plumbers install a building's pipes in the walls before they are closed in.
  • The plumber will lay pipe and other plumbing materials, set up the fittings and fixtures, and start the measuring and installation of all the materials.
Residential plumbing project

Commercial projects:

During the commercial plumbing process, the client and plumbing contractor will come together to discuss project requirements, budget, and timeline:

  • Client and contractor discuss requirements.
  • Contractor conducts an assessment of the site and a team of engineers and designers will create detailed hydraulic designs. 
  • Once receiving all necessary permits and approvals, the preparation begins.
  • The contractor procures all necessary materials, equipment, and fixtures required for the project. 
  • Rough in is completed, and installation begins.
Commercial plumbing plan

With the right takeoff and estimating software, a commercial or residential plumber is well on the way to project success. Sign up for a free trial with Groundplan today to check it out for yourself.

Additional resources

To learn more about the various types of building classes and licencing requirements in Australia and New Zealand, check out the links below:

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