Finding a decent tradesman to work on your house can be real headache if you don’t know anyone. I always encourage people to shop around and get referrals. There now many television shows showing builders from hell. But now also clients from hell as people can have misunderstanding on both sides. That horrible feeling of “will I get ripped off” or “I don’t have a clue where I’m going to find a reliable plumber, electrician, plasterer or carpenter” is no fun. Lack of knowledge, information and experience can lead to costly mistakes.
Most of us have been there at some point – maybe you just moved to a new area or you just haven’t needed anyone before. It can all be a bit daunting, so these 10 tips will help you along the way.
These tips will help to make it easier to find a decent reliable tradesman to work for you.
It is always crucial to have clarity form the beginning. Less stress, avoiding court actions and less likelihood of being “stitched up” Build good relationships and you may be the one who can recommend a good builder to your friends !
1. Three recommendations
Good tradesmen get a lot of their work through recommendations from previous customers. So it makes sense to tap into that. There are several ways you can do this.
The most obvious is to ask friends and neighbours. If they’ve employed a decent tradesman they’ll probably be more than happy to help.
Several websites offer a way of finding good tradesmen. Who truly know their trade where you can choose people based on what previous customers have said about them. Just ask us for our list and we will be happy to help. It’s not quite the same as getting a recommendation from someone you know but, an opinion from someone who has recently employed them is very helpful.
2. Don’t use “Knock at the Door” traders
Keep an eye out and be weary of tradesmen who coming knocking on your door. Ask yourself why they need to knock at the door unannounced. If they’re good, they’ll have plenty of work coming in via recommendations and won’t be randomly knocking on doors.
If someone knocks and tells you they’ve spotted a problem with your roof, chimney, gutters etc and can fix it for you, just thank them politely for pointing it out – then get a reputable tradesman to come and have a look.
3. Think clearly what work you want done
Before calling any trade person, make sure you know the work you want doing. but you’ll be much better off if you can clearly describe the end result you want. You’ll be doing yourself a favour because when you know exactly what you want it make it easier for the customer and the trade person. This makes things easier and quicker for both parties and will also cause the trade person to give a quick response in giving a quote to the customer.
4. Get 3 Quotes
Getting three quotes for the same work, means you’ll know if one is wildly different. Go for three quotes rather than just one or two. With only one quote you’ve no idea if it’s reasonable. Make it clear you want a quote and not an estimate as there’s a big difference. A quote is a fixed price for the job and an estimate is really only an approximate guide. The quotes should be on headed paper with their details, a full description of the job to be done, the cost and any VAT. Be warned of someone offering to do the job “for cash” – no receipt, no record, no be very weary !
5. References from other customer
Ask for references from previous customers. Any decent tradesman will be perfectly happy to supply these. Make sure you follow them up by giving them a call. Depending on the job, you can even ask to come and have a look at the work. If they say they are a member of a trade association, ring up and confirm this. It’s also a good idea at this point to check they have appropriate insurance. They should always be willing to assist you with this.
6. Is the work always guaranteed
Ask about the warranty they give for their work and how they deal with this. You need to know that if anything goes wrong they’ll come back and sort it out quickly and properly. That’s another reason for recommendations. Good tradesman will want you to recommend them and will be happy to correct any problems. In fact a lot of good builders don’t advertise at all. Their past customers bring them all the work they need.
7. Who is it that decides who should be employed
Decide who you want to do the job but don’t base this solely on the price. But who you are the most happiest with. Are you confident that you could point out a problem to them if there was one, or would you feel intimidated because they know more than you. Follow your instinct on this one. If somebody doesn’t seem to fit the bill, don’t just go with “the best. If needs be, get a few more quotes.
8. Make sure you agree to the job in writing
Once you’ve decided with the agreement to the job in writing. This should give peace of mind to both parties before starting the work. The time it will take and when it will be completed, any access and storage arrangements, and the payment details. For small jobs it’s normal to pay on completion. For larger jobs it’s reasonable to make stage payments as the work progresses. This should be based on the value of completed work. If needs be get a breakdown of what is being paid for and look round the job to make sure it tallies to what has been said. It’s also normal on larger jobs to retain a percentage until the works are fully completed. If you’ve agreed to pay for materials you should only do so once they are on site.
Get a receipt for all payments you make. Remember … no receipt, no record, and no comeback!
9. Keep their business card
Good tradesman will leave their business cards just encase you know other people who just may need our service. People usually tends to know others in the area and you never know what other jobs you may need doing later. They get to know each other via previous jobs, previous customers and local builders and trade merchants. And, they’ll know who’s good (and who not to use!) Being able to give them a call and ask for a recommendation is really useful.
10. Making Changes and Tackling Problems
Avoid making changes once it has all been agreed. If you have to make changes, get the extent and the cost agreed in writing. We’ve all done it, agreed bits and pieces verbally as a job progresses only to get a bit of a shock when the final bill comes in. Each time something is changed from the original get it in writing so you both know exactly what’s what and you’ll avoid any shocks or disagreements
If you have any concerns as the job moves along, say so straight away. Leaving a problem will only make matters worse. Don’t be shy, talk to them as soon as possible. Apart from that, keep out of their way and let them get on with the job. It makes life a lot more difficult if you keep chatting with them or watch them while their working.
Armed with these tips you are much more likely to get someone honest, reliable and professional. What a nice feeling knowing you didn’t get ripped off !
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