Choosing The Right Tradesman
There are thousands of highly professional, skilled and genuine tradesmen across the UK – here’s a simple guide to help find a good one.
Ask friends and family
A recommendation from a friend or relative is the ideal way to find a trustworthy tradesman. Many of the good tradesmen are very busy and often rely on word of mouth for the next job, so ask friends, family, and neighbours if they have had any similar work done recently. If they have, not only will you get a reliable contact, but you can inspect the work they carried out to make sure it’s up to the standard you require.
Even if you’ve fully checked out your tradesman and feel confident that they are not a cowboy, it is essential to get more than one quote, Do I Need Permission recommend at least three.
Getting more than one quote will give you a good sense of whether you’re getting value for money, but make sure you get a full written quotation, detailing all works to be carried out including the specification of materials and fittings, an estimated time, and a breakdown of the costs. This will enable you to compare quotes like for like.
Try Do I Need Permissions free cost estimators to give you a guide to what your project might cost.
Remember that the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the best, an unusually low figure could mean you end up with cheap materials or a rough job and you’ll spend twice that sum putting the work right.
If anything changes prior to or during work, make sure you agree any addition costs in writing before the changes go ahead.
Make sure you know if your project need planning permission or building warrant if it does is your tradesman providing this service? It is likely a contractor will employ another company to carry out this on their behalf.
Make sure you have the required permissions in place before work starts. Find out if your project needs permission in Do I Need Permission project categories.
Having drawings prepared for your project can also give your tradesmen a specification to provide you with a quote. When getting quotes for your project ask the tradesman to provide a quote based on your drawings. The drawings can also for part of your contract.
Check them out
If you’re struggling to find a recommendation from someone you know, it is often a good idea to start your search with the relevant trade body. Most industry bodies require members to provide evidence of a certain level of competency or training, and some will insist on references and public liability insurance. At the very least, if something goes wrong, you have somewhere to complain.
Don’t just accept a contractor having the membership logo on their van, check they are registered with the relevant body.
As well as trade bodies, it’s worth checking online review sites to see whether a tradesman has been reviewed.
Cowboy builders are only experts at appearing genuine, knowledgeable and professional, which can make spotting them difficult.
One thing that’s a dead giveaway is a cold caller or anyone using the hard sell. Genuine and respected tradesmen rarely have the time to go around doors, so be wary of anyone who turns up at your door, pushing you to sign on the dotted line. Ask for a business card and say you’ll think about it – that will give you plenty of time to check their credentials. Never sign up to anything on the spot, take your time to think it over.
Anyone seemingly unwilling to provide details about their business, credentials or provide references or a written quotation is also best avoided, as the chances are they don’t want you delving into their shady dealings. Though most tradesmen will give out a mobile number once they’ve started a job, a refusal or inability to provide a landline number could also signal trouble. Make sure you know where you can contact your tradesman should things go wrong.
Finally, if you feel pressurised and uncomfortable, either because the tradesmen is pushing you to make a decision to start the job straight away or because they are asking for an upfront payment, beware. The good tradesmen will have credit accounts with suppliers so they won’t need any money upfront for materials, and the genuine tradesman will be only too happy to have you check them out.