Meet the expert: Simon Ayers is Chief Executive of Trustmark, a government-backed scheme for finding reputable tradesmen
Whether the boiler’s on the blink or you’re planning a home extension, we all need to hire a tradesman from time to time. But finding a good handyman for any job can be tricky, especially as rogue traders are on the rise – 1.5 million homeowners reported issues with dishonest tradesmen in 2014. Taking time to choose a trustworthy person is well worth it. It will save you stress and money and give you a dependable contact to call on in future.
Where can I find a reliable tradesman?
“Start by asking family and friends to recommend good tradesmen they’ve used before,” says Simon. You could also ask a tradesman you trust, such as your plumber, if they know of a good electrician, for example.
Check with TrustMark to see which local traders have had their skills and finances approved by the government-backed scheme. Call 0333 555 1234 or visit www.trustmark.org.uk.
How do I make sure they're right for the job?
“Make sure they’re qualified to do the work,” says Simon. “Ask to see proof of their professional qualifications.” Any tradesman working on a job involving gas must be Gas Safe registered and carry an ID card proving this.
“Ask for references and examples of past jobs they’ve worked on – a trustworthy tradesman will be happy to tell you this,” says Simon.
It’s usually easiest to do all this face-to-face. This gives you the chance to see if you feel happy with this person coming into your home. If your instinct tells you something’s not right, it’s usually best to look elsewhere.
Should I get a quote?
“Yes! Always get a selection of at least three written quotes before you hire,” advises Simon. “Make sure the quotes clearly explain what they include so no hidden costs pop up later.”
Once you’ve decided who to go with, agree on a payment plan in advance. Never pay the full amount up-front and consider using a payment protection scheme, such as BondPay. For more information, call 0845 463 7233 or visit www.bondpay.co.uk
How do I avoid rogue traders?
“Never hire a trader who sells on your doorstep or who tries to pressurise you into work,” says Simon. You should also be wary if a trader refuses to give you their contact details or a written quote.
Ask for signed receipts for all payments and think carefully before you pay cash in hand – written invoices give much more peace of mind. Check the tradesman has public liability insurance, too, so you’re both covered if anything goes wrong.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a rogue trader, report it to the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0345 404 0506.
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