How to Start a Plumbing Business in Ontario: Step-by-Step Guide + Funding Options

Starting a new plumbing business in Ontario can be a rewarding and lucrative endeavor. According to IBISWorld, Canadian plumbers’ revenue has grown at a CAGR of 0.9% to $18.5 billion through 2023.

This growth is due to factors such as population growth, aging infrastructure, and increasing demand for eco-friendly plumbing solutions.

One of the advantages of starting a plumbing business is the high demand for skilled tradespeople. With an increasing number of homes and businesses being built or renovated, there is a consistent need for plumbing services.

Additionally, with many plumbers retiring or leaving the industry, there is a shortage of qualified plumbers, making it an opportune time to enter the market.

However, starting a new plumbing business also comes with its challenges. One of the main challenges is the competition from established plumbing companies.

Building a customer base and establishing a positive reputation can be difficult in a market with so many competitors. Additionally, the cost of equipment, insurance, and licenses can be significant barriers to entry.

In this article, we will explore the key considerations when starting a new plumbing business in Ontario.

Whether you are a seasoned plumber looking to strike out on your own or an aspiring entrepreneur with an interest in the plumbing industry, this article will provide valuable insights into starting a successful plumbing business.

Step 1: Obtain Plumbing Certification

It is necessary to obtain plumbing certification or have a certified plumber on staff.

Ontario has a mandatory certification system for skilled trades, including plumbing, which is regulated by the Ontario College of Trades.

Here’s how you can obtain plumbing certification:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements: To become a licensed plumber in Ontario, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete a plumbing apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs typically take 5 years to complete, and you will need to accumulate a certain number of hours of practical experience working under a licensed plumber.
  • Apply for apprenticeship: You can apply for a plumbing apprenticeship through the Ontario College of Trades website. You will need to complete an application and pay a fee. You can also find a list of approved apprenticeship training providers on the OCOT website.
  • Complete in-school training: As part of your apprenticeship, you will need to complete in-school training at an approved training provider. In-school training typically involves attending classes for several weeks or months each year and completing exams to demonstrate your knowledge.
  • Accumulate practical experience: While completing your apprenticeship, you will need to accumulate a certain number of hours of practical experience working under a licensed plumber. You will need to track your hours and have your supervisor sign off on them.
  • Complete the Certificate of Qualification exam: Once you have completed your apprenticeship and accumulated the required hours of practical experience, you can apply to take the Certificate of Qualification exam. The exam will test your knowledge of plumbing theory and practical skills.
  • Apply for your plumbing license: If you pass the Certificate of Qualification exam, you can apply for your plumbing license through the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. The application will involve providing proof of your apprenticeship completion and passing the exam, as well as paying a fee.
  • Maintain your certification: To maintain your plumbing certification in Ontario, you will need to renew your license every year and complete any required continuing education courses. You will also need to follow all applicable regulations and standards for plumbing work in Ontario.

Step 2: Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits

It is important to understand the regulations and requirements that apply to plumbing work in Ontario. This includes obtaining the necessary permits and licenses for plumbing work.

You must ensure that you or the individuals performing the plumbing work are certified journeypersons or registered apprentices in the trade.

Here are the steps to obtain licenses and permits:

  • Ensure you meet the requirements: To operate a plumbing business in Ontario, you must be a licensed plumber or have a certified plumber on staff. Additionally, you will need to obtain liability insurance coverage and worker’s compensation coverage.
  • Obtain the required permits: You will need to obtain a plumbing contractor. You will also need to obtain any necessary building permits from the municipality where you will be working.
  • Get bonded: In Ontario, plumbing contractors are required to be bonded. This means that you will need to obtain a surety bond from a bonding company to protect customers in case you fail to fulfill your contractual obligations.
  • Apply for your license: Once you have met all the requirements, you can apply for your plumbing contractor’s license. The application process will involve providing proof of your insurance, bonding, and certification.
  • Renew your license: Your plumbing contractor’s license will need to be renewed every year. You will need to complete any required continuing education courses and pay the renewal fee to maintain your license.

Step 3: Obtain Insurance

Running a plumbing business involves various risks, including property damage, personal injury, and errors or omissions in work performed.

Insurance can help protect your business from these risks and provide financial coverage in the event of a claim or lawsuit.

To obtain insurance:


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    • Determine your insurance needs: Before you begin shopping for insurance, you need to determine your insurance needs. Consider what types of risks your plumbing business faces, such as damage to property, injury to employees or clients, or liability claims.
    • Shop around for insurance providers: Look for insurance providers that offer coverage for the specific needs of your plumbing business. You can compare rates and coverage options from multiple providers to find the best fit for your business.
    • Obtain quotes: Once you have identified a few insurance providers, request quotes from them. The quotes should detail the coverage offered, the deductibles, and the premiums you would need to pay.
    • Review the policy: Once you receive the quotes, review the policies carefully. Make sure you understand the coverage offered and any exclusions or limitations in the policy. If you have any questions or concerns, ask the insurance provider or a lawyer for guidance.
    • Purchase insurance: Once you have decided on an insurance policy that meets your needs, you can purchase it from the insurance provider. This will involve signing a contract and paying the premium.
    • Maintain insurance: To keep your plumbing business protected, it’s important to maintain your insurance coverage. This means paying your premiums on time and keeping your policy up to date with any changes to your business operations.

    Step 4: Register Your Business

    It is necessary that you comply with all the legal and regulatory requirements for starting and operating your new plumbing business including registering with the Ontario government.

    Here’s how you can register your business:

    • Choose a business name: Choose a name for your plumbing business and ensure that it is available and not already in use by another business in Ontario.
    • Choose a business structure: Decide on the type of business structure you want to operate under (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation).
    • Register your business: Register your business with the Ontario government through the ServiceOntario website.
    • Obtain liability insurance and worker’s compensation coverage: You will need to obtain liability insurance coverage and worker’s compensation coverage to protect your business and your employees.
    • Register with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board: If you have employees, you will need to register with the WSIB and pay premiums to provide them with coverage in case of workplace injuries or illnesses.
    • Hire employees: If you plan to hire employees, you will need to follow all applicable regulations and obtain any necessary permits or licenses.
    • Follow all applicable regulations and standards: As a plumbing business owner in Ontario, you will need to follow all applicable regulations and standards for plumbing work, including the Ontario Plumbing Code and any local bylaws or regulations.

    Step 5: Purchase Necessary Equipment

    Having the right tools and equipment is essential for providing high-quality plumbing services and ensuring the safety of your employees and customers.

    The specific equipment you need will depend on the types of plumbing services you offer and the size of your business.

    Here is how you can purchase the necessary equipment:

    • Make a list of required equipment: Create a list of all the equipment you will need to start your plumbing business. This may include tools, vehicles, safety equipment, office supplies, and more.
    • Determine your budget: Decide on a budget for purchasing equipment. Consider how much money you have available and how much financing you may need to obtain.
    • Research suppliers: Look for suppliers that offer the equipment you need. Compare prices and features to find the best options for your business.
    • Choose equipment: Once you have identified a few suppliers, select the equipment that best meets your needs and budget. Consider the quality of the equipment, the warranties and guarantees offered, and any additional services or support provided by the supplier.
    • Purchase the equipment: Once you have chosen the equipment, you can purchase it from the supplier. This may involve signing a contract and making a down payment or paying the full amount upfront.
    • Arrange for delivery or pickup: Coordinate with the supplier to have the equipment delivered to your business location or arrange for pickup if possible.
    • Set up the equipment: Once you have the equipment, you can set it up and ensure it is working properly. This may involve hiring a technician or training yourself or your employees on how to use the equipment.
    • Maintain the equipment: To keep your equipment functioning properly, it’s important to maintain it regularly. This may involve cleaning, lubricating, and repairing the equipment as needed.

    Step 6: Establish a Business Plan

    A business plan provides a roadmap that outlines the steps needed to achieve the business goals.

    It can help you identify potential challenges and opportunities and plan for them accordingly.

    A business plan can also provide a framework for making decisions. It will help you evaluate different options, weigh the pros and cons, and make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

    To create a business plan:

    • Define your business goals: Start by defining the objectives of your business. Identify what services you will offer, your target market, and your long-term vision for the company.
    • Research the industry: Learn about the plumbing industry in Ontario, including the competition, market trends, and regulations. This will help you identify opportunities and potential challenges for your business.
    • Identify your target market: Determine the specific demographic and geographic segments you will target. Consider factors such as income, age, and location.
    • Develop a marketing strategy: Create a plan for how you will market your plumbing business to your target audience. This may include advertising, social media, networking, and other promotional activities.
    • Determine your pricing strategy: Decide on your pricing structure, taking into account the cost of materials, labor, and overhead. Research market rates to ensure your pricing is competitive.
    • Create a budget: Develop a budget for your plumbing business, including expenses such as equipment, supplies, marketing, and labor. Determine how much financing you may need to start and run your business.
    • Plan your operations: Define your processes and procedures for providing plumbing services. This may include scheduling, invoicing, customer service, and quality control.
    • Establish a team: Decide on the staffing needs for your plumbing business. Consider the skills and experience required for different roles, and develop a plan for recruiting and training employees.
    • Project financials: Use your budget and pricing strategy to forecast your revenue and expenses over the next few years. This will help you determine your financial goals and identify potential areas for improvement.
    • Review and revise: Regularly review and update your business plan to ensure it remains relevant and effective. Use feedback from customers, employees, and industry experts to refine your strategy over time.

    Step 7: Market Your Business

    Marketing is an essential part of any business strategy. It can help you attract and retain customers, build brand recognition and loyalty, stay competitive, and continuously improve your products and services.

    Here’s how you can create an effective marketing strategy:

    • Define your target audience: Identify your ideal customers based on factors such as age, gender, location, income, and interests.
    • Develop a brand: Create a strong brand identity for your plumbing business, including a logo, color scheme, and messaging that reflects your values and unique selling proposition.
    • Build a website: Develop a website that showcases your plumbing services and provides information about your business. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for search engines.
    • Establish a social media presence: Create accounts on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use social media to share updates, promotions, and customer testimonials, and to engage with your target audience.
    • List your business in online directories: Register your plumbing business with online directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, and HomeStars. These platforms can help you reach customers searching for plumbing services in your area.
    • Advertise: Consider advertising your plumbing business through online channels such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, as well as traditional methods such as print ads or radio ads. Make sure your advertising is targeted to your specific audience and has a clear call to action.
    • Network: Attend local networking events or join industry associations to connect with other professionals and potential customers. Building relationships with other businesses in the community can help generate referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
    • Offer promotions: Consider offering promotions or discounts to attract new customers. This can be especially effective when launching a new plumbing business.
    • Collect customer reviews: Encourage your customers to leave reviews of your plumbing services on your website, social media platforms, or online directories. Positive reviews can help attract new customers and build trust in your business.
    • Measure your results: Monitor your marketing efforts and track your results using metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and customer feedback. Use this data to refine your marketing strategy over time.

    Step 8: Hire Employees

    Hiring new employees can be important for a new plumbing business, as it can help to increase capacity, bring specialized skills, provide flexibility, improve customer service, and support future growth.

    However, the decision to hire new employees should be based on a careful assessment of the business’s needs and resources.

    Here are the steps you can take to hire new employees:

    • Determine your staffing needs: Identify the positions you need to fill based on your business goals and operational requirements. For example, you may need plumbers, apprentices, office staff, or salespeople.
    • Create job descriptions: Develop detailed job descriptions that outline the responsibilities, qualifications, and requirements for each position. This will help attract qualified candidates and streamline the hiring process.
    • Advertise job openings: Post job openings on job boards, social media, and industry-specific websites to attract potential candidates. Consider using targeted advertising to reach qualified candidates in your area.
    • Review resumes and applications: Review resumes and applications to identify candidates who meet your requirements. Conduct phone screenings or initial interviews to further evaluate candidates and narrow down your pool.
    • Conduct in-person interviews: Invite top candidates for in-person interviews to assess their skills, experience, and fit for the role. Ask behavioral-based questions to gauge their problem-solving abilities and communication skills.
    • Check references: Contact references provided by candidates to verify their employment history, skills, and qualifications. This will help ensure you are hiring a reliable and qualified candidate.
    • Offer the job: Once you have identified the ideal candidate, offer them the job and negotiate compensation, benefits, and other terms. Make sure to follow all relevant labor laws and regulations.
    • Provide training: Develop a training program to onboard new employees and ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to perform their job. Consider offering ongoing training and development opportunities to keep your team up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.
    • Follow all legal requirements: Make sure to follow all legal requirements for hiring employees in Ontario, including minimum wage laws, labor standards, and employment insurance. Consult with an employment lawyer or accountant if you have any questions or concerns.
    • Monitor performance: Monitor employee performance regularly and provide feedback and coaching to help them improve and grow in their role. Celebrate successes and address issues promptly to maintain a positive and productive work environment.


    While there are certainly challenges to starting a new business, the potential rewards are significant. With the demand for skilled plumbers on the rise, there is ample opportunity for growth and profitability in the plumbing industry.

    By following the guidance outlined in this article and remaining committed to your business goals, you can build a thriving plumbing business that provides valuable services to your community.

    Resources for Plumbing Businesses in Ontario

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