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Tradesperson fitting door chain

Finding a tradesperson with the right skill set and the right approach to your job requirements can save you money, time and frustration.

By doing your research and finding out as much information as you can about the firm you plan to use, you can ensure your home improvements or repairs will be carried out properly.

TrustMark, the only government-endorsed scheme for all trades in and around the home, explains how to go about choosing a good tradesperson.

How to find a trusted tradesperson

You should look around and draw up a shortlist.

Start by gathering personal recommendations

It’s a good idea to start by getting a personal recommendation from a family member or friend as this is often the easiest and safest way to find a tradesperson and one of the best ways to ensure a quality service.

Use the TrustMark tool to find tradespeople

The Find your local TrustMark tradesperson tool allows you to search using your postcode to find reputable local firms and expert tradespeople in your area.

Don’t accept cold calling

There are lots of rogue traders who knock on people’s doors to get work. Don’t feel pressured to hire someone who turns up at your door unexpectedly. If in doubt, always say no, close the door, and if necessary contact the police. See Age UK’s free guide Avoiding scams (PDF 327 KB) for more information on rogue traders.

You have your shortlist. Now to pick the right one

You should now have a list of names of established tradespeople. The next step is to check their references and prices.

Stick with established firms

Find out how long the tradesperson has been trading for and make sure they have an office address and landline phone number. Be wary of firms only willing to give you a mobile number.

Get three quotes for the job

Ensure you get a number of written quotes for the job in hand as this will enable you to better judge the true price and be less likely to get ripped off. Approach at least three firms so that you have enough quotes to be able to compare.

Make sure to check exactly what is covered by the price (e.g. labour and material costs) so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Check the tradesperson’s credentials

Check that any tradesperson you are considering taking on is licensed for the trade you are asking them to carry out. For example, boiler engineers must be Gas safe registered, and there are a number of Government-approved registration schemes for electricians and builders. By using a registered tradesperson you will have the ability to register a complaint in the event something should go wrong.

Ask for their references

Seek references and speak to previous customers about the work and service of the tradesperson. If it is a big job, you might want to go and see the quality of their work. If the builder won’t provide references, ask why – it is often very telling about them if they don’t.

How to make sure the job goes smoothly

You now have your tradesperson. Follow these steps to make sure the work goes to plan without problems and unwanted additional costs.

Give them a clear brief

Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief, except for the very smallest jobs. The brief should include what works needs to be done in the greatest detail such as cleaning up and disposal of waste, the materials the tradesperson will use and what you will supply and whether subcontractors such as plumbers are included.

Get a written contract

Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong. Agree any stage and final payments before work starts and for any medium or larger jobs, you should insist on a full legal written contract.

Don’t make advance payments

Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments. However, where materials need to be bought in advance, it is reasonable for the trader to ask you to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses.

Check building regulations

For certain types of work, such as electrical, plumbing, gas, and replacing windows, you may need to get a building regulations compliance certificate from your local authority. This certificate proves that the work has been done to the right standard and is safe. If your tradesperson is a member of a Competent Persons Scheme, a government-run accreditation programme, they can provide your certificate for you. Visit GOV.UK for more information about when you need building approval.

Having problems with a rogue trader? Report them

If the tradesperson is part of any schemes or trade associations, you must report any poor service so they can be investigated. You should also report them to your local Trading Standards department, who have the power to make them improve and even stop them from trading

For more information about TrustMark and finding a local registered firm, visit the TrustMark website.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081