If you’re looking to hire a plumber, a Bathroom Fitters UK, a carpenter, a builder, an electrician, or any type of professional along those lines, the following few tips should help you find someone proficient and trustworthy.
1. Get references
Don’t be afraid to do a bit of snooping here. Find out from friends who did their stairs/plumbing/whatever. Inspect the work. Ask your friend what the price was like. How was the service? Was the tradesman professional and courteous? Would they do business with them again?
You can also go directly to a tradesman you’re thinking of hiring and ask them for references. If they can’t refer you to many satisfied customers, that’s a red flag.
If you’ve already worked with good, trustworthy getatradesman, ask them to recommend tradesmen in other industries. They usually know who’s good and who’s bad, stories get passed around, even across industries. Or they might know someone who knows someone.
2. Don’t trust marketing
If you find that a tradesman has a website or brochure, take the information on there with a pinch of salt. The words might have a spin and the pictures might be photoshopped or lifted from another site. Don’t just trust what comes out of the horse’s mouth. They are trying to sell you something after all.
3. Beware of cheap
The cheapest price is rarely the best price. Check for value and quality. You usually get what you pay for. Do you just want some leaky pipes installed in your house, or do you want your plumbing done right?
4. Meet them in person
Meet and chat with a tradesman before hiring them. You don’t have to like them in order to do good business together, but liking the person helps. There should at least be mutual respect. Also, if you’re worried about them throwing all sorts of jargon at you, bring along someone who knows a bit about the trade.
5. Find out if they outsource
Will they do all the work from start to finish, or do they outsource certain tasks? If the latter, you’ll need to check references for those third parties too, make sure they can be trusted. And don’t just take the word of the main guy you’re hiring to vouch for them.
If who you hire is outsourcing, there’s less accountability. When a problem arises with a third party, you don’t want them telling you, “there’s nothing I can do, I’m waiting on them, my part is done.” You want someone who will take full responsibility for the job and go chasing up sub-contractors on your behalf if anything goes wrong. They shouldn’t be able to fob you off.
6. Find out where they get their materials
Make sure they’re using quality materials and not cutting corners with cheap stuff that will deteriorate quickly.
7. Get them to chase you
Ask a tradesman to price a job for you and give them a deadline for getting back to you with the number. Put the onus on them to show that they can stick to an agreement and prove that they’re worthy of your business. If you’re going to be paying them a lot of money, they should be chasing you, not the other way around.
Set the tone early that you will not be a pushover and you won’t stand for a lack of communication or any kind of messing around. If they figure you’re too much hassle and you don’t end up doing business with them, know that you probably just saved yourself a major headache. Better to be disappointed early and cheaply that late and expensively.
8. Visit their place of work
A visit to a tradesman’s workshop or office can reveal a lot. Do they keep the place tidy, pride themselves on that? Is it presentable? Do they have everything in order, everything in its place for easy processing, so nothing can fall through the cracks?
And if they refuse to let you see their workshop for no good reason, be aware.
9. Make sure the deposit is reasonable
Deposit structures will vary across industries, so figure out what the standard is before making any judgement calls. For stairs, we require 30% payment for materials before starting the job. We then require 40% payment before the stairs leaves the workshop, getting the customer in to see it and verify that everything looks right. Then the final 30% payment is due on the day(s) of installation.
10. Check their stability
Many of our competitors request a 50% deposit up front, but make sure they’re not in danger of going bust the next day before you hand over large sums of money. Make sure that their references check out and that they’ve been in business for a while. Have they had repeat customers? The newer the person is to the trade, the more likely they are to drop out when the going gets tough.
11. Ask them for proof of insurance and qualifications
They should have all that, and they’re obliged to show you proof if requested. Make sure they’re qualified to do everything they say they can do, especially if they have no references to back up their claims.
12. Check if they’re busy
How backed up are they? If they have a long waiting list, they’re obviously in demand which is further assurance that they do excellent work. Don’t be afraid to wait for quality. Those tradesmen who are ready as soon as you call them? They’re probably sitting at home twiddling their thumbs for a good reason.
13. Google them
Yes, I mentioned above that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on a tradesman’s website. But Google their name (or business name) to see if anyone has written an online reference on a third-party site. (Don’t worry much about one or two negative references if the majority are positive. Not even the best tradesmen can please everyone.)
14. Figure out what extras are included
Can you get an itemized bill upfront? Make sure there are no hidden charges. If something isn’t on the invoice, ask if it’s included.
15. Find out who their suppliers are
Call up those suppliers and ask for a reference. If a tradesman is often late paying his suppliers, they’re not likely very trustworthy. Red flag.
16. Ask about a timeline
You can’t always expect to get exact dates, but try have them commit to a deadline. Ask them to contact you if anything is going to change with that, if anything comes up. Again, put the onus on them to chase you.
17. Take note of the questions they ask you
A good tradesman should question what you’re asking for. They’re the experts, so they should have some good alternate recommendations. We’ve often talked customers out of building a staircase a certain way because we knew from experience that their visualization was off.
Take caution if you find a tradesman who says yes to your every request. They’re likely only in it for the money, and not to deliver their best work.