Ten Tips for Finding a Great Tradesman
In recent years the property market has, at times, seemed fairly unwelcoming. High prices and slow sales meant that many people have chosen to focus on improving their current homes rather than moving to a new one. Many of these home improvement projects can be undertaken by the homeowner as a DIY project to fill a weekend but sometimes things can go wrong or a project can be too much or too complicated to handle yourself. In these circumstances it is advisable to call in the professionals. Find a tradesman, a builder, a plumber or an electrician with the know-how to finish the work to a high standard. Though the vast majority of tradesmen are dependable, hardworking businessmen, hundreds of people are still burnt by rogue traders every year. Here are ten tips to help you find a reputable tradesman and avoid dodgy dealers.
1. Listen to Word of Mouth
The best way to find a good builder or plumber is to ask people that you know. Your friends and family should be happy to pass on the details of any tradesman that provided a good quality of service. Equally they may also be able to warn you of any potential rogue traders that you may unknowingly be considering. In addition, any recommendations given to you by friends and family can be backed up by inspecting in person the work that has been done.
2. Use Local Directories
If you don’t know anyone with a good recommendation then looking in local directories can be a good place to start. You can find a tradesman on a national level but it general it is advisable to find someone local as this can cut travel time and they can be on hand faster if there is a problem. Look in the Yellow Pages for ideas. Other local directories like Dentons can help you to create a list of potential tradesmen that would be right for your job.
3. Find Out Their Reputation
Even if you don’t know anyone personally who can give a recommendation or review you can often find out the reputation of a local tradesman online. They may have their own website with reviews from previous customers, if not there are a number of websites dedicated to providing unbiased reviews and ratings of tradesmen. Websites like Check a Trade or My Builder can help you to select the right tradesmen from your list of potentials.
4. Check Their Previous Work
It is always a sensible move to look at the work a tradesman has done before as this can give you a good idea of the quality of their work. If your choice of tradesman is based on a friend’s recommendation then it can be quite simple to pop round to their house and have a look in person. If you have chosen a tradesman based on a rating or a review online, the reviewer may be able to post pictures of the work that was done.
5. Know What You Want
Do your research and think carefully about what you want done, especially if it is a big project. Being more exact about your requirements and knowing what you want from the project can be of great benefit. Knowing more about your project will mean that your tradesman will be able to be more accurate in calculating the quote and the timescale for the project.
6. Shop Around
Don’t just get a quote from one company or individual and assume that the quote you get is the right one. The quote you receive may be much higher or much lower than the average and you will not know because you will have nothing to compare it to. Talk to several different companies or individuals about the project so you can get a good idea of the going rate. Many experts will often recommend getting at least three different quotes.
7. Be Sensible About Pricing
Though it may be tempting to go for the cheapest quote on offer, by doing this you may not be getting the best quality of work. You should always try to reconcile a fair price with a good standard of work. Cheaper does not always mean best value. Equally, an expensive price tag may not always mean that you will receive the best work.
8. Look Up Qualifications
Many good tradesmen will have qualifications – feel free to ask to see their certification and documentation. Having qualifications, however, should not be a requirement; some builders and plumbers among others have years of professional experience rather than a certificate. Tradesmen also often belong to trade associations or professional bodies – you can contact these organisations to verify their membership as some rogue traders may claim membership without having it.
9. Get Everything in Writing
Making sure to get everything down in writing is useful for keeping track of the project and its cost but can also benefit you if something goes wrong. If your tradesman ends up trying to charge you more than was originally agreed upon, referring to a quote in writing will give you more to go on and a better legal standpoint. Any quote that you agree on should include the contact details of the company or individual, the cost and any VAT. It may also be worth finding out if they offer a warranty – if they do you should also try to get details of this in writing.
10. If they aren't right for you – don’t hire them!
A simple one to end on. If you get a quote from someone, don’t feel that you have to hire them. If they come with recommendations from friends and people on the internet, but you don’t feel they would be right for the project, don’t feel pressured into hiring them. If you meet them to discuss the project and they turn up late or are rude or unprofessional, you do not have to hire them and can look elsewhere.
Useful Advice & Resources
- Citizens Advice - Builders & Home Improvements
Advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau about your rights when having building work or home improvements done. Find out how to solve problems and complain.
- Trade Associations
Professional tradesmen will often belong to one or more organisations but membership shouldn't be regarded as a guarantee of good work. My Builder have provided a list of the different trade associations.