It is not always easy to find a good tradesperson who is available to do the work you need done at the time you need it doing.  To add to the difficulty, many people will neither understand exactly how the work should be completed, nor any technical explanation.   Here are some tips on how to find a reliable business.

  • Plan ahead.  If it is not an emergency repair, allow yourself plenty of time to find the right trader.  Good builders, roofers and other traders tend to be busy, particularly now there are fewer European traders working in the UK.  It is better if you are able to wait for your preferred trader than if you have to use someone who is free at the time.
  • Keep a list.  Householders may find it worthwhile compiling a list of reliable local traders – for small building jobs, plumbing, roofing, electricals, gas, gardening, painting and decorating and a handyperson – before they need them.  This will give you a place to start when you do need someone.
  • NEVER employ someone who calls unexpectedly at your door.  There is a good chance, if you do, that you will be inviting a criminal to work on your home, however small the job initially appears.
  • Seek word of mouth recommendations.  If trusted friends, neighbours or family members can recommend a tradesperson who has done good, reasonably priced work at their home, there is a lower chance that anything will go awry.

If you are new to an area, try to join street or neighbour social media groups and ask on there: although you may not know the person recommending someone, if several people recommend the same person, they will be worth considering.

  • Be suspicious of ratings websites.  Feedback can be manipulated and not every ‘5-star’ trader will be good.  (See ‘Ratings: can they be trusted?’ here: xxxx for further advice).
  • Be clear what you want.  Even if you do not know the technical terms, be clear and ensure the tradesperson understands what you want to be done – and anything you do not want.  Don’t be afraid to ask what they are doing or why it is necessary if they are doing something you were not expecting.
  • Always ask more than one trader to quote for big jobs.  This is vital.  If you are going to spend a lot of money for the work, you need to be happy that you are accepting the best quote.  This is not always the cheapest – some builders, for instance, may offer non-completion penalties, or genuine insurance backed warranties that you may prefer.  Obtaining at least three quotes is recommended.
  • Reputable Approved Trader Schemes.  Most trades and some Councils have approved trader schemes – check with your local Trading Standards team.  They vary in quality and effectiveness of complaints / redress policies, but the best can be a way of finding reliable traders – for big jobs at least. 
  •  Understand the website you are using.  If you try to find a trader online, recognise the difference between sites that recommend and name businesses and ones where you enter the work that needs doing and any traders are able to contact you about it.  If it is the latter, you will not know anything about who contacts you.  Satisfy yourself that the website is itself reliable.
  • Know who you are dealing with.   It is vital to know exactly who you are employing, not just the trading name.  The legal name of a trader – which could be a limited company or one or more individuals – must be on business paperwork, along with a genuine address.  If it’s an accommodation address, where mail is received, but the business has no physical presence, check that they are registered there.

LTS has published further information on-line here: Doorstep Crime – London Trading Standards; and a booklet, ‘Don’t Deal at the Door’ (with a ‘no uninvited traders’ notice on the back), which is available from your local Trading Standards team (details will be found on the council website).

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