The majority of tradespeople are reliable, honest and hard working. Honestly! It's just that the cowboys and rogue traders get a lot of publicity and this makes it seems that the majority of tradesmen are crooks. But it really is a small percentage. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to minimize the chance of employing someone who will do a bad job or will steal your money.
If you are looking to get a project done then you are going to want a quotation. A quotation is different from an estimation. Say for example you want some garden landscaping done. A landscaper can give you a quotation for this. A quotation is a fixed price. Estimations mean variable pricing so you may end up paying more. Estimations are sometimes the only option you have - in the case of a boiler repair for example, because it is difficult for a gas engineer to be exact when giving information on the cost of a repair.
Now, for whatever large project you're looking to have done - house painting, a house rewire, a loft conversion, refurbishment, a new boiler installation etc. Always get 3 quotes. This will give you enough to compare. Any more than 3 quotes and your wasting everyone's time and your own - you do want to get the work done, don't you? At the other end of the scale - don't get sweet talked into going with the first man you see for the job. Wait for the 3 quotes and this is a good amount to be able to compare the tradespeople effectively.
It's important at this stage to dot the i's and cross the t's. Spend some time telling the tradesman exactly what you want and getting that listed on the quotation. If it isn't on there then it's going to be hard to blame anyone except yourself when it isn't done - even if you specifically agreed it. Get it written down and signed by both parties.
Check the company or tradesperson you are thinking about employing online. Don't be over concerned about a few bad reviews, but they should have some good one's. And if they are all bad - well that probably tells you something.
Remember, before you can start work on a structural project you must inform the council with a 'Building Notice' and you may have to supply them with the plans and calculations from your surveyor. There is a fee for this of course. Before you select your builder make sure they know that you done this and that you will be required to contact the council again after the project is complete to get a building regulations compliance certificate. Your builder now knows that you are going to do everything legitimately - this may smoke out a cowboy builder.
Every contractor, builder or tradesperson needs to carry public liability insurance. Check to see they have it!
Never use a business who can only provide a mobile phone number.If they have no physical address on their quotes, letterheads or business cards - walk away.Never employ a tradesperson unless you are clear on the work they will be carrying out and what the price is.Never employ a dirty tradesman. If he has come to your house to give you a quote he should be presentable.Never employ anyone who smells of alcohol. It means they probably drink on the job.
This will be based on what you can afford, of course. But it may also be influenced by the quotes you have received. Now, don't always go with the lowest quote. Make your decision on other factors. Do you trust the tradesperson - use your common sense. Are they part of a large company? This is usually safer - they are less likely to steal your money or go bust. This is an important consideration when large sums of money are involved. Call their land line number. How do they answer the telephone? Are they professional? Anyone who answers their telephone with 'Yes' is probably hiding from someone. Don't employ them!
When you have selected the builder or tradesperson for your project, don't hammer them down on price. This seems strange advice but hear me out. A good deal is where both parties are happy with it. Tradespeople and builders are feeling the squeeze at the moment because of the recession. They will be very tempted to accept a low offer just to keep themselves or their companies working. But this doesn't mean you should take advantage. And not just for the moral reasons! When a builder or tradesman is not making any money from a project they get unhappy. An unhappy tradesman may start to cut corners on your job. If they are losing money on the job, they may be very tempted to run off with your deposit or payment. In most cases they didn't start off with this intention but sometimes they can't afford to carry on. Be mindful of these. Talk to your builder or tradesman on a regular basis. Especially, if it's a large project.
Never accept that they are a member of a professional organization without seeing their ID or confirming with the registration body. This is especially true for gas. Have a look at their Gas Safe card.
If you don't understand something ask for it to be explained again in plain English. Don't be fobbed off and don't be meek.
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