Good builder, plumbers and electricians are like gold dust. So how do you find one? If you only have a small job it’s often hard to find someone to help, while if your project is large and expensive, you’ll want to ensure your costs will be worth it. Not only do you need tradesman who’s qualified to do the work at the right price, but it also helps if they turn up when agreed, make the minimum amount of mess and are reasonably pleasant to have around – not to mention him finishing on time and on budget, and having adequate insurance cover if things go wrong.
Guide on Finding Skillful Workman
Where do I start?
Nothing beats a personal recommendation from friends, family or neighbors. You can get an idea of what the tradesman was like to have around, and see for yourself the standard of their work
Go through professional associations. Members may have been vetted, and some bodies offer guarantee schemes or will help to resolve disputes. Don’t take someone’s word for it that they’re a member – always check.
Keep an eye out for local properties that are undergoing building works and try asking the owners about their builders – they’ll probably be happy to offer their opinion.
Be wary of anyone ringing up or knocking at the door for work, especially if they want to sign you up for a deal on the spot. Similarly, be cautious of advertising leaflets, especially if no address is given. Anyone can say that they are a tradesman, so always choose the one with a verifiable address and telephone number.
Questions to ask
Ask for references and names of previous clients. If possible, speak to them and look at the work. If the trader is reluctant to let you do this, avoid him or her.
How long do they think the job will take? If one tradesman says two days and another says two weeks, then something is wrong with one of them.
Are they insured against damage to your property and personal liability in case of accident or injury?
Is their work guaranteed? If so, is this insurance-backed, giving you protection if they go out of business?
Ask your builder whether he will be working exclusively on your job or on two or more sites simultaneously.
Getting a quote
Put together a written description of what you want done. If you change your mind later, it is likely to put the costs up.
Get at least three written quotes, for a fixed price and not an estimate. Check that these quotes cover everything you asked for.
Beware of VAT-free or cash-in-hand deals. If you’ve got no receipt and things go wrong, you’ll have a problem rectifying later.
The cheapest quote may not necessarily be the best. Look at the tradesman’s ability to get the job done properly too.
Put all the details of the job in writing: what is to be done, the price, start and completion dates, hours of working, disposal of waste materials, security and safety and, if needed, things like catering and lavatory arrangements.
Never sign anything you haven’t read or don’t understand.
Ask for written confirmation of any guarantees offered by the tradesman and/or his or her trade association. It should include the name of the scheme and its registration number.
If things go wrong
Try to keep calm, and remember that any tradesman who carries out work in your home has a legal duty to use reasonable skill and care, to do the work in a reasonable time and at a reasonable price.
Address the issue as soon as possible. Start by discussing the problem with the tradesman and give them the chance to put it right. State clearly what you would like done and give a deadline.
If this doesn’t work, put your complaint in writing and keep a copy of all correspondence. Make a note of relevant conversations too.
Paying for work
Never pay anything in advance and avoid cash deposits – they should not usually be necessary.
If it’s a large job, agree a schedule of payments in advance. Usually, you’d pay in stages, as certain sections of work are completed.