Many of our readers complain about being ripped off by tradesmen. So, how do you find inexpensive, competent, reliable workers who you can trust?

Personal recommendation

It’s hard to beat a personal recommendation. Email your friends, family and work colleagues to see if they know someone. 

If you draw a blank, try asking industry contacts—for example, if you’ve used a good carpenter in the past, ask them if they know a great plumber

Make sure you tell the person who you’ve been recommended how you got their details.

 

Use the internet

There are various websites that allow you to search for tradespeople. My favourite is Check a Trade—they have over 16,000 vetted, interviewed and monitored tradespeople who undertake approximately 8,000 jobs a day. 

If you need a builder, try The Federation of Master Builders’ website. If you want the builder to undertake significant amounts of work, ask him to show you his portfolio (which will most likely be the camera roll on his mobile phone).

Rated People is another website that offers a similar service.  If you’re in an area not well serviced by the type of tradesman you want, you should look for people/post your job on multiple sites. As with the other two websites, it’s free to use.

Top tip: make sure the tradesman you use is registered with the correct trade body. For example, plumbers undertaking gas work have to be CORGI registered.

 

Get three quotes

Using these websites will enable you to find competent tradesmen. However, to be sure you get the best price, you should obtain at least three quotes, based on your written description of the job.

If, during the course of the work, additional work is required, either agree upon a day-rate for the work or obtain supplementary quotes.

 

Paying for the work

Never pay for a job in advance; only pay for the work that’s been done. It’s even reasonable to withhold 10% of the payment until a month after the job has been finished. Then, should you encounter a problem, such as a dripping pipe, the tradesman will be more willing to swiftly rectify that issue.

Some people offer an early-bird bonus too. If the builder says the job will, for example, take six weeks, offer him a bonus if the work is completed within this timeframe.

 

Knowledge is power

Many people admit to knowing nothing about building work. This leaves you at the mercy of the builder. 

Do some research about what the work entails—a little knowledge will help you better communicate with the tradesman and will leave you less exposed.

 

Pizza, tea, coffee and biscuits

“Spend £20 on pizzas and save yourself £10,000 on build costs”. So said a recent post on a self-build website. Make sure there are plenty of biscuits, tea and coffee too. 

Once you have built up a rapport, you are far less likely to get ripped off.

 

Find them and keep them

Once you’ve found a good tradesman, keep his details and recommend him to friends. Also, take the time to write a positive online review. 

What goes around comes around—and, who knows when you’ll need them again?

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