There will always be a time when you will need a trusted trader to carry out work in your home. 

In an ideal world, all tradespeople would be reliable, trusted traders, but as everybody knows this is often not the case.

Finding a trusted tradesperson can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Some websites claim that their ‘rated tradesman’ system ensures reliability. However, investigations by the Daily Telegraph and BBC Inside Out have exposed the fraudulent way that some traders can fake their reputations by leaving fake reviews. Also, watch out for the ‘Checkatrade’ websites too, they might claim to vet their members but they will rarely if ever offer a guarantee or warranty for when things go wrong.

Thankfully there are other ways that you can ensure that you won’t get ripped off by a ‘cowboy’ trusted trader.

Word of mouth recommendations or Trusted Trader references?

Word of mouth or personal recommendations from family or friends is a good place to start. Can a friend or colleague recommend a trusted tradesperson they have used in the past? Were they happy with the level of workmanship and reliability?

Are the a domestic electrician or a commercial electrician, it’s worth checking. Ask a trader for references from previous customers who have had similar work done and follow these up.

Are they qualified/licensed for the job?

Always ask to see a tradesman’s license. Depending on what work you need to be done, a tradesperson will also have evidence of their qualifications available for you to check. This is especially important for electricians. How long have they been in business? Do they have the correct type of insurance? All this information should be available to the customer.

Do they have their own website or are they just on Trusted Trader?

An up-to-date website is a good indication of a tradesperson’s credibility. Someone with real expertise will want to showcase their experience in the field and have evidence of their qualifications readily available. Never use someone who doesn’t have an office address and a landline phone number.

Get a few quotes

Call around a few different tradespeople to get quotes on the work that you need doing. If you can get a breakdown for labour and materials on each quote. Comparing them will give you a better idea of what the work should cost. Also, be wary of giving money upfront for materials, a good tradesperson should be able to cover the cost of most materials. Only pay for work that has been done rather than in advance. Most reputable traders will have monthly credit accounts with their suppliers.

Are they busy?

A good tradesperson will usually be inundated with work and booked weeks in advance. If they can start immediately or if they are rushing you into making a decision then that suggests that they are untrustworthy. Be very wary of tradespeople who knock on your door.

Set out a clear brief

By being specific and setting out a clear brief, you can avoid confusion later on. The brief should describe what work needs to be done in as much detail as possible. Establish a firm start date and an estimated finish date.

Get it in writing

For any medium or large jobs, you should insist on a full legal written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong. Agree on any stage and final payments before work starts. Don’t just take their word for it.

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