Cowboy builders, dodgy tradesmen, whatever you call them, finding someone reliable and trustworthy is a big priority when you have home improvements that need professional expertise. Here’s how to find a tradesmen you can both afford and trust.
Rogue builders and untrustworthy tradesmen are never far from the headlines, with countless TV shows and radio programmes telling the horror stories of people who’ve been left high and dry by cowboys.
While this paints a dire picture of tradesmen, there are thousands of professional handymen, craftsmen and builders working in the UK - it’s just a matter of finding them!
Here’s how to find decent tradesmen so you don’t get ripped off by the dodgy ones.
If you’re visited out of the blue by a worker purporting to be an experienced local tradesmen you need to say no to anything they offer – even if they promise a really good deal.
Remember you’ve got no idea who they are and whether they’re appropriately qualified, sufficiently experienced and adequately insured without doing your research.
It’s far safer to go in search of tradesmen when you need one rather than accepting offers on your doorstep.
Hiring a tradesman who calls at your door could leave you with no recourse if something goes wrong and they fail to deliver what they promise.
If you feel pressurised simply ask for a business card and say you’ll think about it. Don’t sign or agree to any work without checking their credentials; and definitely don’t hand over any money!
One of the easiest and safest ways to find a tradesman you can trust is to find out who your family and friends call when they have a job that needs doing.
Ask if they can recommend someone who has carried out work for them or someone they know in the past so you can be sure they’re both competent and trustworthy.
If you can, ask to see the work they completed and find out how much it cost to get a better idea of the quality of their work and whether they provide value for money.
Of course, if you do get a recommendation you should still shop around and compare what they have to offer with other reputable tradesmen in your area.
Since the dawn of the internet age it’s never been easier to review builders and tradesmen’s reputation before you hire them.
There are several websites which work by compiling reviews of local builders and handymen in the aim to help customers fight back against dodgy or expensive tradesmen.
Here are some of the largest trade review websites you could use:
Bear in mind that these websites are a form of advertising as tradesmen do have to pay to get listed.
For this reason it's also worth checking out reviews on sites like Yelp, Touch Local and Review Centre that let tradesmen list their services for free.
Google Local Business reviews are also worth checking out - simply search for the service you want and your area (builders in Cheltenham for instance), and you'll be able to see if any of the resulting listings have user reviews assigned.
Remember if you found local reviews useful then submit your own review (good or bad) of the tradesman you end up using to help others looking in the future.
If you can't find any reviews of companies in your area then checking for customer testimonials is a good alternative.
As with any big purchase it makes financial sense to shop around to make sure you get value for money.
However, you should only start the hunt once you’ve followed the other 4 steps to ensure you’re only comparing costs from reputable and trustworthy businesses.
It’s generally a good idea to get three quotes that explain the cost and details of the work to be carried out so you can make an accurate comparison.
It’s important to get a full written quotation from any company or tradesman who you're considering for your project.
It should include full details of the work being carried out, total cost and give you an idea of both when the work could be completed and how long it will take.
You should keep records of your conversations with each tradesmen and make sure you get any revisions to the original quote in writing. This will help prevent any disputes at a later date just in case something goes wrong.
Checking that a trademen or builder is registered with a recognised industry body is a good way to make sure they are a skilled, legitimate professional.
While this won’t guarantee that the builder or handyman will do a good job, it will help filter out people who don’t have the experience or skills to complete the job.
Using registered tradesmen will also give you a body to complain to should, despite your best efforts vetting tradesmen you’re ultimately let down by poor or shoddy work.
Remember, the cheapest quote may not always be the best option, especially if it comes from a tradesman without a strong reputation, suitable credentials or from a cold caller!
You should make sure you compare quotes from each tradesman on a like for like basis. Things to look for include:
Check each quote thoroughly and choose the tradesmen you feel offers the best value for money, safe in the knowledge that you’ve already excluded builders and tradesmen that can’t be trusted.
I am tired of hearing trollop about getting a good tradesman from websites for which the tradesmen has to pay the website to be a member. This obvoiusly equates to you the consumer having to pay more for the job as the tradesman has to give a slice of his money to the website that refered him to the client. Futhermore the website doesnt really care who he is so long as they are getting their cut of the money. This is why they always throw in the clause that they are not reponsible. (read their conditions)The whole thing is a total rip off. Its simple- contact your local council trading standards office. Most will have a list of local trading standards approved contractors. Use one of them!
You've listed 4 sites you can visit to find trades. 2 of them you can't see trades, you have to leave a job and then they then sell your personal info to trades who have not been vetted.
At least Checkatrade and Trustmark have some vetting and you can actually see trades and previious customer comments.
Shame on RatedPeople and MyHammer for selling consumers details with out them knowing.