What to look for when hiring a tradesman

We’d like to think that most disasters won’t happen to us, like being struck by lightning or missing your wedding day due to traffic. But other disasters, such as ‘cowboy’ tradesmen, are sadly more common.

Although most contractors in the building, plumbing and electrical trades are honest and efficient tradesmen doing the best job they can, a handful of shady operators do exist. Thankfully, there are simple ways to make sure you don’t fall victim so, regardless of how you find a tradesman, check a few basic things before going any further.

INSURANCE

Always check the tradesman you choose has liability insurance. It is crucial – without it you’re depending on the contractor’s goodwill to remedy mistakes.

CONTACT DETAILS

A good tradesman will never hesitate in giving you his contact details. His business cards should have his phone number, address and website.

ACCREDITATION

Electricians should be registered with a body like NICEIC, ELECSA, BSI, Benchmark or NAPIT. Visit http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/ for a full list.

Gas engineers must join the Gas Safety Register in order to operate. Verify their numbers with the organisation.

Builders are less regulated, however some may have membership of National Federation of Builders, Safe Contractor Scheme or TrustMark. Unlike the gas and electrical trades, such memberships aren’t obligatory, but they go a long way towards establishing credibility.

UP-FRONT PAYMENT

Never pay a tradesman before the job is done. The only payments which could be made in advance are if materials are needed. If this is the case make sure you get a written and signed receipt as proof.

SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE

Before the job starts make sure both parties sign off agreed costs, time frames, modifications etc.

RECOMMENDATIONS

References are good, but recommendations are even better – it goes a long way if someone you trust tells you that a contractor did an excellent job. ​

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