Becoming a professional locksmith is one of the most underrated yet appealing trades careers out there. It is one of the fields facing a skills shortage and a worthwhile consideration for anyone looking to take up a new career path.
While what often comes to mind in this line of work is installing door locks or fixing locks when a home or business owner has damaged or lost keys, there is much more to it. In many ways, locksmiths are security experts who can ably advise property owners on everything from what are the best door locks for their premises to where to position CCTV cameras for the best views.
So while a traditional local locksmith primarily focuses on sourcing for, installing, replacing and repairing all the locks, they have now expanded their locksmith services to take on access and security needs in the home, businesses, other properties, and vehicles.
What Do Locksmiths Do
There are many services that a good locksmith can provide. As said, much of their work will involve the planning, installation, repair, maintenance, and replacing locks. They also handle issues related to keys. If you have lost them or have a broken key, they can help you make a replacement and even make copies.
Some locks can also have the tumbler configurations reconfigured. While this will require rekeying, it is a more cost-effective alternative to replacing an otherwise still usable lock. You can also hire a locksmith to install combination locks and timing devices for safe rooms at home and in businesses.
There are also emergencies where such services can also be of need. Emergency locksmith services are called upon when a key is lost or another mishap occurs during outside-of-normal working hours. Maybe they have been locked out of their home, office and car by mistake. The situation can often be more serious when you have an unattended child locked in. An emergency locksmith can help to pick the lock of the door without causing damage.
Due to the work involved when working with locks, locksmiths also have to have woodwork, metalwork and mechanical skills. This is not just due to the locks themselves, but also the doors they are being installed into. Whether it is a metal or wooden door, they need to ensure a clean finish upon installing, repairing or replacing the lock.
The uPVC door has become increasingly popular due to its affordability, strength, and thermal efficiency. This type of door also needs careful handling due to its more complicated design. You will often find euro cylinder locks being the standard locks for this type of door that is often used for exterior access. Installing a uPVC door lock requires knowledge of metalwork.
With digital locks now part of the trade, customers may also need help in retrieving lost codes or changing them due to security issues. Controlled entry systems that require a code, swipe card, push-button or telephone to provide entry or exit can also be installed by a locksmith.
The range of services offered by the locksmith industry is very diverse and generally centred on ensuring property and lives are protected. However, with this diverse range of offerings comes an extensive price list for each locksmith service. Let’s look at what kind of locksmith charges to expect for some of the most common locksmith jobs in London.
How Does a Locksmith Charge for Services?
It can be very distressing to realise you have a broken key or lost one that you need to open or close a lock. More so when you urgently need to get past the door. This kind of accidental occurrence is made even more problematic when you have to contend with the unexpected expense of having to hire a locksmith.
When considering how much it costs to fix or change locks, you have to factor in the expense of the hardware and the services of a locksmith.
Different brands and types of locks have different prices. A visit to the local hardware or online search will help you become familiar with popular choices like mortice locks, a night latch, or euro locks.
Simple tasks like picking a basic cylinder lock can be done within an hour. Those that are more complex or require work on multiple locks and doors means more time. With labour charges applied hourly, you can expect to pay more. If replacement of parts or an entire lock is required, and you are relying on the locksmith to bring it in, the job will be more expensive. This is due to the extra time and effort they will put towards sourcing the right parts.
Working on a uPVC door lock is also costlier due to the extra care that has to be taken to avoid damaging its design. In some cases, the entire door may need to be replaced.
Tradesmen often have a reputation for inflating costs. Knowing ahead of time what the general cost of certain locksmith services is can help in reducing locksmith costs to a more manageable level. You will be in a better position to negotiate any locksmiths prices, whether they are per hour or job.
Besides some guidelines on what kind of locksmith charges you can expect for general services, we will also look at how you can reduce locksmith prices in emergencies. Whether you have locked yourself outside your house or your child in the car, we will offer some helpful advice on how to manage an emergency locksmith cost when it unexpectedly arises.
How Do Locksmiths Charge, Per Job or Hour?
The industry standard is to charge for labour at an hourly rate. The rate will vary depending on the type of job and location. The more complex the nature of the work, the more you can expect to pay. Those in more urban areas like London can also expect to pay more expensive hourly rates than those in more rural regions. Generally, most locksmiths will charge an hourly rate from about £65 an hour.
However, it is noteworthy that some locksmiths have a set rate for the first hour of work and a reduced rate from the second hour. The second rate can even be less than half of what has been charged for the first hour.
When considering hiring a locksmith, be sure to verify if such reduction applies for price comparison. This is especially important when you enquire how long the job will take and are informed it may require many hours’ work.
Locksmith pricing may also include a separate call out charge. Not all locksmiths will have this as a separate item, but for those that do, this may affect the total cost for the locksmith service. Be sure to verify the existence of such a call out fee before engaging the tradesman and having them travel to your location.
Another of the locksmith price factors is VAT fees. Larger firms, in particular, may have to include this fee in their charges for call out, hourly rates and materials. You can often avoid this additional fee by choosing a smaller firm or solo tradesman. If the work is business-related, you may however be able to claim back this expense.
Labour fees also tend to be higher in emergency situations. This refers to when you seek out locksmith services outside of normal working hours and on bank holidays. Depending on your location, choice of locksmith and type of emergency locksmith jobs, you may be required to pay anywhere between £10 to £100 more per hour. Again, if there is a call out fee, this may also be higher when engaging an emergency locksmith. Most emergency locksmiths do not however charge a call out fee.
Emergency locksmiths may also charge a higher price if they must travel a longer distance. Since not all locksmiths offer emergency services or may be able to, you may need to contact an emergency locksmith that is further away than you would have hoped. This may mean a higher bill for having to travel beyond his normal service area.
How Much to Open a Door?
If you have lost your key and need help gaining entry into your home, office or car, this work should not take long with standard locks. On average you can expect to pay £70, however, prices often start from about £69 and can reach as much as £250 for high-security locks.
If there is a need to replace a lost key, expect pricing to range from £125-£140 for standard rim cylinder and mortice locks.
The fee will also likely be higher if you have broken your key in the lock and it needs to be extracted. Removing the key without the need to change the cylinder should cost from £75-£95.
How Much to Change Locks?
Changing locks is a more labour intensive task and may require more specialisation if you want an upgrade. The cost will vary depending on the type of locks and the extent of work that will need to be done to the door and frame during replacement. Remember that when working with a wooden door, carpentry skills are needed.
Garage locks are the cheapest to replace and will cost from £75-£85 in labour fees.
One standard mortice lock replacement may cost from £110-£120.
Night latch replacement will cost from £85-£95. A night latch or Yale lock does not require the entire lock to be changed. Only the cylinder needs to be changed. Basic cylinder locks can start from £25, with more high-security options priced from £85.
Replacing euro cylinder locks can cost from £75 in labour costs. The cylinders are priced from about £25.
How Much to Repair Locks
Locks to external doors tend to be more complex and therefore attract higher charges. However other factors like the type of lock and the level of repairs can affect locksmith prices.
External door repairs are priced from about £50-£70. Internal door repairs, like to bedroom or bathroom doors, can cost about £40-£60. Note that the price of repairs may however vary whether dealing with standard or unusual locks. The higher-security or complex the lock, the most expensive it will be to repair.
Emergency Boarding Up
Whether it is as a result of adverse weather, a break-in, or other calamities, you may find yourself with damaged windows and doors that put your property and safety at risk. If expecting bad weather that may cause damage to your property, you may also need extra protection. This is where emergency boarding up services come in.
Emergency boarding up services are offered by professional locksmiths who can custom fit and install the boards, ensuring your home is safeguarded from external exposures and trespassing. Depending on the level of damage or number of entry points to be covered, emergency boarding up services are typically priced from about £150-£350.
Emergency boarding up services can be a big help while you wait for the necessary materials and tradesmen to perform repairs on a damaged property. There can often be delays especially when harsh weather or other widespread calamity is responsible. Having exposed windows and doors puts a property owner at increased risk of suffering vandalism and theft.
Tips for Reducing Locksmith Costs
Comparison shopping is a must when you want to reduce locksmith costs. Reach out to as many locksmiths that serve your area as you can and get a quote for their services. You need to be as detailed as possible to get as accurate an estimate as you can.
Try to engage such services during normal working hours. If you can safely wait till the bank holidays, weekends or odd hours have passed, you may save yourself some money. You can avoid the often exorbitant emergency rates some locksmith companies are known for.
Don’t buy your own hardware. You can rely on the locksmith to bring in the new lock you want to be replaced or upgraded, you are likely to not suffer a mark-up on the retail price.
It is also important to ensure you are dealing with certified locksmiths. If you engage rogue locksmiths, you may end up with a botched job that needs redoing. If relying on insurance, you may find your insurer will not cover the costs unless confirmed done by certified locksmiths. This also ensures you are covered by public liability insurance in case of other damage to your property in the course of repairs being done.