Keeping it Local – How to Find a Tradesman You Can Trust to Do The Job
We’re all familiar with that sinking feeling you get when something goes wrong in your home and needs fixing. There’s the uneasy feeling that comes with the safety, warmth and security of your home being compromised, which is bad enough. On top of this, there’s the worry that you will have to find a tradesperson to deal with it.
Money worries are, of course, another area of concern when something in your home or garden needs attention. Getting jobs done well is often very expensive, and many household repair jobs need to be done quickly, leaving you with few options but to find the money to pay, and quick. This is why choosing the right tradesperson is so important. The last thing you need is to find yourself paying twice for the same job!
Finding the right tradesman for the job…
Tracking down a reliable builder, plumber, electrician or carpenter can be difficult. It’s thought that unscrupulous tradespeople cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year. Not only this, but they cause much inconvenience and heartache to thousands of homeowners who are left high and dry with shoddy workmanship or unreasonably hefty bills.
However, we should all take comfort in the fact that it’s actually much easier to find a good tradesperson now than it has ever been before, thanks to – yes, you guessed it – the internet. Tradespeople working in the local area are highly aware of the power of social media. If they do a bad job even once, they can have their reputation sullied for years to come!
There are also a large number of sites set up specifically to help you find a reputable tradesman. These sites will usually invite customers to leave reviews and even verify these reviews to check they are genuine. Here’s our rundown of the best tools you can use to find the best tradespeople in your area and avoid the cowboys!
First, check a tradesperson is approved by trading standards
Finding traders who are approved by your local council’s trading standards is a good place to start. You can check whether a recommended tradesman is a safe bet or not if the trading standards have approved them.
Your council will have a list of traders who are approved. You can find your local council’s website here.
Check local Facebook groups for advice on trusted traders
Whether you’re trying to find a local plumber, heating engineer, window cleaner or electrician, your local community Facebook page might be the best place to find the right tradesman. Facebook group posts are easily searchable and a bit of digging can unearth some great recommendations. However, cautious steps are recommended:
- Make sure the recommendations aren’t merely coming from the tradesperson’s friends and family
- Find out if several different people have recommended the same person
- Before booking with the tradesperson, find out if they are approved by your local trading standards
- Check to see if they have a website or whether they feature on tradesperson review sites, such as those below
Take a look at one of the following websites to help find tradesmen than can be trusted
Checkatrade is an extremely popular site that helps you find a recommended tradesperson. Tradesmen can sign up for free and, as a customer, you can leave a review following a completed job. Your review is then often followed up by a representative from Checkatrade to ensure that you are a genuine customer, which adds validity to the site.
Checkatrade is regarded as a highly effective way to avoid cowboy tradespeople as members have to pay at least £49.99 plus VAT to join. They are then vetted by Checkatrade and must sign up a set of commitments to quality and workmanship called the Checkatrade Standard. Members give their permission for all reviews to be published, good or bad, but they are offered the right to reply when a bad review comes through. If you want to make sure you’re not wasting your money when appointing a tradesman, Checkatrade is a great way to find a tradesperson you can trust.
RatedPeople is another similar site, which allows tradespeople to join for a fee, providing they pass a series of checks, including credit checks. Customers who look for tradespeople from sites such as Checkatrade and RatedPeople often find that any problems with work carried out is resolved quickly as they can take negative reviews down if the tradesperson makes good on their job. This is a major incentive for problems to be fixed quickly and offers a form of insurance to customers using site members.
Which? Trusted Trader scheme
The Which? Trusted Trader scheme checks and vets tradespeople around the country and awards them with their Trusted Trader mark, which they can display on their vehicles, websites, uniforms and anywhere else they think their customers might look.
To achieve the award, traders must go through a rigorous process, which includes an interview, financial and operational checks on their business and calls to their recent customers.
TrustMark – Government-endorsed tradespeople
If you are looking for tradespeople that comes with an even more official form of positive feedback, opt to track down a tradesman or tradeswoman with a TrustMark. This is given out by the government as a sign of official endorsement. The focus is on quality and financial protection, which is great if you’re short on cash. TrustMark says: “Our goal is to achieve a position where consumers can engage firms in complete confidence that work will be of a high quality, protected and at the agreed costs.”
Finding the right balance between trust and cost
It’s all very well looking at these registered, endorsed and approved tradespeople first, but they won’t always offer you the cheapest quote. Whenever you embark on a search for a tradesperson, the cost is, of course, always going to play a role in the decision you make. This is particularly true for those of us who would find it difficult to scrape together hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds overnight to fix an expensive plumbing, heating or roofing problem.
Our advice is to use a combination of sources to find the right person for the job. Personal recommendations and good customer feedback go a long way, so start by asking around your friends in the area and finding out who they used when their boiler broke down, or their roof started leaking. Ask whether they were reasonable and then carry out some checks yourself using the resources above.
Get a few new quotes and chase, chase, chase
Lastly, it’s vital that you ask at least two or three different tradesmen for quotes before deciding who to go with. Meeting them in person can help when judging characters and getting a feel for their levels of expertise too. We know it’s a headache to have to free up time to get quotes, but it could save you hundreds of pounds, so it’s time worth spending.
Also, we all know tradespeople are super-busy and can be slow to pick up the phone or reply to emails sometimes. Don’t write someone off because of this, especially if they have come highly recommended and have a good reputation online. Keep at it and chase them up until they give you a time and date to do the work or check the job and quote. Remember, if they are busy, it’s probably a good sign, so persevere!
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