One of the ‘joys’ of homeownership means having to find a professional to fix a problem that you can’t resolve in your property so will need to find good tradesmen in your area.
There are a number of issues to consider when doing so, including:
- How to find an experienced tradesman or woman
- Checking that you can trust them
We’ve often struggled to find good tradespeople and generally find it takes a few years when you first move to an area to build up your contacts of good tradespeople.
While you could use word-of-mouth, which is the best form of advertising, you may need to rely on an online search and it helps that there are organisations available to help in this process.
For example, you could contact your local council or use their website to see if they have recommended traders. If so, then use the search terms ‘trading standards’ or ‘approved traders’ to find them on their site.
Even if they don’t have a list of traders that they may have approved, the council site may have links to other websites that will list tradesmen that you can trust in your area.
Schemes that recommend tradesmen
It’s helpful that there’s more than one scheme covering your area for finding a quality tradesman you are after. Among the ones you could check are:
Trustmark is a Government-endorsed trader scheme. The idea of the scheme is to cover work that someone may need to have carried out around their property.
Those registered with Trustmark have been vetted thoroughly to ensure they meet the required standards and deliver good customer service, trading practices and technical competence.
Buy With Confidence
The big attraction for using the Buy With Confidence website is that it is a Government-run scheme and all the firms on it are Trading Standards approved. As with Trustmark, the businesses on the site have been vetted by Trading Standards to ensure they operate in an honest, legal and fair way.
The Checkatrade site is a popular way to search more than 36,000 recommended tradespeople and service providers. The firms have been vetted and monitored and, more importantly, customers can rate the tradespeople and leave a review.
The site is heading towards 4.8 million reviews so you can read an honest appraisal of a potential tradesman.
Chartered Trading Standards Institute
There’s also the Chartered Trading Standards Institute which gives consumers an opportunity to search for a particular business in your town or city with the reassurance that the tradesman operates under a specific code of practice.
This is also the point to highlight that if a tradesman claims to be a member of a particular scheme, then you should check that scheme’s website to ensure that they really are a member and will be complying with their code of conduct.
You can also use a scheme that will recommend a trader and trade associations are a good way to find quality tradesmen. One great way of doing this is to use the Trade Association Forum to find the relevant trade association and within that site, search for a registered tradesman.
Find a builder
One of the big issues, when you need to find a builder, is that you want to avoid becoming a horror story when you become embroiled with cowboy builders. Unfortunately, there are lots of cowboy outfits out there, so you need to be careful when finding a reliable builder.
Indeed, the situation is so serious that the Federation of Master Builders says that cowboy contractors are costing the UK’s economy around £10 billion a year with their activities.
We’ve had our fair share of poor tradespeople. From those who just didn’t turn up to start the work to those who did the work to such a bad level, we had to get someone in to re-do the work properly after they finished.
We’ve even been threatened by unreputable tradespeople when we dared to complain about the poor job they had done on our guttering falls that caused water to pool in the guttering instead of draining freely. When we left them a bad review, they threatened us further!
While there’s no doubt, many people have much worse stories to tell than a bit of dipping guttering, our experience shows that even small seemingly simple jobs can be done poorly by a bad tradesperson.
While it certainly doesn’t stop you finding bad tradespeople, it can help to check their reviews os sites such as:
If you’re not sure how much your work should cost, or you just want a broad range of tradesmen to choose from MyJobQuote is a great place to start.
Not only can you request quotes from tradesmen local to you, they also have some very helpful guides on how much you should expect to pay for a wide range of common jobs.
While this is a commercial website, customers post jobs and builders will bid on them. However, customers can also leave feedback and the trader’s qualifications and identities have been verified.
A spokesman for MyBuilder said that negative feedback is published and will be flagged up to their customer service operation and while traders can reply, a decision to suspend membership will be made within three days.
He added: “Traders threaten legal action all the time but we do not bow to pressure in removing any bad reviews.”
We have used MyBuilder several times and have had a mix of very good, and some not so good tradespeople from their site. Just make sure you’ve met the tradesperson face to face before giving them the job.
It’s not foolproof but we’ve found you can often get a good sense for the quality of a tradesperson from a quick meeting.
Another well-known commercial site that sees tradesmen being verified before being allowed to offer their services. Rated People say that one in every four applications are screened out before a tradesman is accepted.
They say that with nearly 90,000 jobs being posted on the site every month, up to 15 of them will end in a dispute.
A spokeswoman said: “A tradesperson will fix the problem usually so the customer takes the review down.”
All of the sites detailed here are effectively a tradesman’s register that you can access to find someone to carry out a small job in your home.
However, it’s probably a better idea to use the sites where the tradespeople are thoroughly vetted, rather than taking a risk by using a site where the tradesman pays to effectively advertise their services.
This means that you should probably begin your search with Trustmark and Buy With Confidence as these are independent sites offering a vetting service.
Local tradesmen near me
All of the sites listed here offer a local search to ‘find a tradesman near me’, for example, but there are also other sites available for this purpose, including TrustaTrader.com, hoppy.co.uk and hamuch.com.
Recommended tradesmen for the elderly
Finding a recommended tradesman for the elderly is particularly important since they are more liable to be trusting and susceptible to the overtures from cowboy operators.
They also probably need small jobs doing around the house that they cannot complete themselves, so it’s crucial they find a tradesperson who has the right approach and skills for meeting their needs.
This will help avoid wasting time and money, and also the inevitable frustration in a job badly done.
Along with using word-of-mouth, it’s also possible to access various organisations helping elderly people who have these registers in place.
As an example, Age UK offers a Trusted Trader Scheme and some of these offer handyman services.
The charity also recommends the Trustmark website for finding quality tradespeople and they also warn elderly people to avoid any trader who knocks on their door looking for work. They also need to avoid being pressured, always say no, and if there’s an issue they should call the police.
There’s no doubt that finding quality and reputable tradespeople in your area can be a time-consuming and frustrating process and Age UK offers this helpful advice:
- Get at least three quotes to compare prices
- Check any credentials and trade licences (for example, a boiler engineer needs to be Gas Safe registered)
- Always ask for references so you can speak with a previous customer
- Check how long they have been in business
- Get their contact details, including a landline phone number and not just a mobile phone.
For anyone wanting to know how to find good tradesmen, then this article offers just about everything you need to know.
Should there be an issue with the work that is carried out then you need to take it up with the tradesperson concerned and then contact your local Trading Standards to help get the work corrected.
This will help prevent the tradesperson from being allowed to dupe other people with false promises and poor standards of work.