The dos and don’ts of finding a reliable tradesman

Plumber with monkey wrenchFinding a trusted local tradesman is easier said than done; so how can you tell the cowboys from the craftsmen and make sure that you don’t invite a rogue trader into your home?

When it comes to finding trusted tradesmen it’s hard to beat personal recommendations. Start by asking friends and family and if you are still out-of-luck try asking your neighbours.

Next it’s time to get online, but remember that everything you find on the web isn’t always what it at first seems. In recent years there’s been a proliferation in seemingly ‘independent’ review websites, when in reality the tradesmen have paid good money to be listed and it’s easy to post bogus reviews.

Remember the old adage that ‘if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is’ and take glowing online recommendations with a pinch of salt. Quality tradesman are in high demand which means they are unlikely to be the cheapest and are unlikely to be able to start work immediately.

Instead visit Trading Standards website where you can search their database of Trusted Trading Schemes and find quality tradesmen who have been vetted and approved. Alternatively try Which? Local where you’ll find a directory of nearly 140,000 businesses that have been independently reviewed by Which? members (it’s a paid service with a month’s trial membership costing just £1.00).

Once you have found someone you think you can trust; check their credentials. Whether they are a Gas Safe registered engineer or a Part P approved electrician; don’t just take their word for it but ask to see proof. The Ombudsman Services estimates that six out of ten homeowners fail to check tradesmen’s credentials and some discover the truth the hard way.

Next get a written quotation detailing the scope of the work, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Make sure that the quote includes the tradesman’s address and a landline number (rather than just a mobile), and double check whether VAT has been included in the overall costing.

It’s not unusual to be asked for part payment (typically to cover materials) and the remaining payment on completion. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t pay the full amount up-front.

Finally it’s a good idea to get in-touch with your Home Insurance provider and check whether you’re covered should anything go wrong. Some insurers automatically cover repairs and renovations while others will charge an additional premium; either way it’s important to know exactly where you stand.


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