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Top Tips to find a reliable tradesman


Whether you have problems with your central heating or you’re about to build a loft extension, spotting the difference between reliable tradesmen over cowboy builders or plumbers can be tricky. Most of us have come across dodgy workmen, and even suffered at their hands. To avoid this, follow our top tips to find a reliable tradesman.

10 top tips to find a reliable tradesman

1. Go with personal recommendation

It goes without saying, personal recommendation is always preferable to a written reference when trying to find a reliable tradesman. If you’re considering a new loft extension and one of your neighbours has had a similar extension built, that’s a great place to start. A friendly neighbour might be so proud of their loft extension that they will show you around their home to let you take a closer inspection of the work.

2. Get more than one quote

It is just common sense to get three different estimates/quotes for all but the most basic building or plumbing works. The estimates should be for a job which you have specified in detail, not in vague or ambiguous terms. But you should not necessarily choose the lowest estimate, particularly if you entertain doubts about the competency of the tradesman. And if none of the estimates inspire you with confidence, be prepared to widen your search. Always trust your instincts.

3. Ask for estimates in writing

Make sure that estimates are submitted in writing from bona fide tradesmen with a proper business address. Some cowboys like to hide their traces, whereas reputable tradespeople are open and above board.

4. Choose an experienced contractor for large projects

In the case of large projects, you should put a premium on experience when choosing your contractor. A company that has been trading for 15 years trumps an enthusiastic newcomer. You should also double-check that they have the relevant safety qualifications to install gas and electricity etc.

5.  Find a tradesman who has carried out work on similar properties

Depending on the complexity of the building work you want done, you need to satisfy yourself that the tradesman you use has done work on similar properties to yours. For instance, if relevant, do they have experience with period properties, listed buildings or working in a Conservation Area? Find out this before you give them the go ahead.

6. Think local

This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but local tradespeople are generally preferable to ones who live miles away. If building companies are having to factor in travel time, it may inflate their estimates.

7. Spend wisely

Be very wary of tradespeople offering a discount if you pay in cash. They may take short-cuts with guarantees and insurance clauses.

8. Agree start and finish dates

It is critical, particularly with large-scale building works, that the contract you sign with builders include not just a full description of the work, but a start and finish date. Unforeseen delays can lead to particularly acrimonious disputes. Penalty clauses for late completion are advisable, but may be difficult or expensive to enforce. It is also worth agreeing in writing that the property will be left in mint condition, and that you will not be expected to clear up after the builders.

9. Never pay up front

Contractual clarity about how payments for the work should be staged is also essential. You may be asked to pay a deposit, but you should never, for obvious reasons, make final payment until the job has been completed. Hold some of the money back until the work is carried out to your satisfaction. It is worth going around your home with the tradesman, snagging the job and agreeing the areas that need improving. Then put this in writing on an email.

10. Check you’re insured for building works

The best way to avoid sleepless nights is to insure yourself against things going wrong. You should not only check your own insurance policy before starting major building works, but ask for proof that the company you are using has its own insurance against unforeseen problems in the course of the work.



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Date Posted

November 3, 2018


Katy Storer

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