How to find a builder

Finding builders


The best way to find a builder is without doubt via a recommendation. The person who recommends the builder will have first hand experience of their work, and equally importantly, their working habits. You don’t won’t a builder vanishing half way through a job.

Customers are particularly at risk of getting ripped off in the winter months when they are in a hurry to get a job done and are at the mercy of cowboy builders or plumbers.

So ask family and friends if they know of anyone good. If you decide to recommend a builder to someone else the builder might even give you a discount on work.

You could also ask other professionals in the trades.


You could try finding a builder via the trading standards website or the The Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network (LAATSN) All businesses in this scheme must comply with all trading standards laws, and have good customer service, no high pressure selling is allowed.

Approved traders

Trust Mark
Trust mark is a government backed scheme whereby you ask what kind of trader you want and in what area of the country.

If a company has a TrustMark logo it means that their skills have been checked by independent inspections which are regularly carried out. Checks are also done on their financial status and trading record. Any firm could still go bankrupt of course but Trustmark companies often warranties which will cover you if this happens.

They also have good safety practices, including all the right insurances, and have been shown to have good customer care, complaints against customers are carefully noted.

•      Various organisations use Trustmark including
•      Federation of Master Builders, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and the electric trade body NICEIC).

This has the support of all UK water companies and also Gas Safe, The Worshipful Company of Plumbers, and the Trading Standards Institute.
Customers are able to do a search online for their nearest recommended plumbers. All plumbers in the scheme must have workmen who have a Water Regulations Certificate and  a NVQ L2 in plumbing mechanical services. All eligible companies must also have public liability insurance and redress agreements in case anything goes wrong.

Recommendation websites

These sites can be a really good way to find decent tradesmen. Tradesmen are judged on their previous work and rated accordingly. And customers can place adverts for work and receive offers from tradesmen.

Something to be aware of is that some people have claimed that negative comments about companies are being removed on some sites, after all it is the businesses who are the customers not the person coming to the website looking for tradesmen. Websites strenuously deny that any negative reviews are removed. What is more likely to happen is that traders will give themselves good reviews or ask family or friends to post reviews.

The way the system works is for you to post your job up on the site and then various traders will contact you. You choose the one you’d like to do the work, or invite others to bid, then choose the traders you’d like to quote. After the work has been completed you can post a review of how well it has been done.

Some of the top sites are RatedPeople , Mybuilder.com and Trustatrader.com

You could also try looking into a specialist website for a particular part of the trade, such as scaffolding for example, here’s an example. There are some checks done on companies who join up to these sites, some sites insist they’ve been in business for a couple of years but the checks are nowhere near as complete as they are with Trustmark. The sites also don’t take any responsibility for the work unlike Trustmark.

Check them out

Whoever you thinking of choosing, make sure you check them out online and get references from them. Look at their Facebook and Twitter pages to see how they interact with customers. Find out how long they’ve been in business

Use an established firm who has an office and a landline phone number. Be wary if they’ve only got a mobile phone.

Set our a clear brief

Get more than one quote, ideally at least 3, and make sure they are all quoting for the same thing. You could question the more expensive company as to why they are more expensive, they might be providing more than the others. It’s not necessarily a good idea to go for the lowest quote, go for who will offer the best value and do a good job.

Make sure that whoever you are thinking of choosing has all the right licences and insurances. You can check yourself who is on the Gas Safe Register or electricians register

Get them to come around
It’s best to get the tradesman to come around so they can give you the most accurate quote and so you can meet them to see if they seem trustworthy.

Get it in writing
Make sure that you have a written quotation with start and finish times and payment terms. This will offer protection if anything goes wrong.
Don’t pay in advance
Only pay when work is done. If work is underway it’s ok to pay for some of the materials but not if they haven’t started, you might never see them again.
Penalty clause
Set a penalty clause if work is delayed – around £500 a week should provide incentive for them to finish on time
See if they offer a guarantee, a trader who is confident in their abilities will offer one

All about Asbestos

Getting rid of asbestos

What is it?

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was traditionally used in building materials. It has been used for thousands of years but it only became used on a large scale in the mid 19th century. It was used in building materials to help make them more fire resistant and firmer.
If left undisturbed it doesn’t pose any threat at all. But if it’s fibres are released then it is a danger. It was primarily used in the 50s up to the 80s, after that the dangers were uncovered and it was banned.

Where is it

It can be found in lots of places including
Roofs – especially garage and roof sheds
Eaves of houses
Ceiling, walls and doors – in the linings
Storage heaters – in their insulation panels
Central heating – particularly in the flues
Tiles  – floor tiles
Gutters and rainwater pipes

What are the dangers?

If left undisturbed there are no dangers. The fibres are present in low quantities in the air at all times. The danger comes when a lot of fibres are breathed in. The effects of this may only be felt many years later.

The dangers of asbestos were known in the 1930s but it was until the 1970s that serious efforts were made to sort the problem out which has led to criticism of governments for not acting on the problem sooner. And even further back in time than that, even the Greeks and Romans are said to have noted that many slaves who weaved asbestos cloth ended up getting ill with cancer of the lungs

20 tradesman are still dying each week from the effects of Asbestos so it’s still a very serious problem.

It can cause cancer primarily in the lungs or also asbestosis which is a serious scarring of the lungs

What to do

It’s often hard to find the asbestos or identify it but if you suspect that you have asbestos here’s what you should do

Don’t touch the asbestos – that’s what will make it unsafe

Don’t put pins or anything else into the material, this will cause danger by sending particles of asbestos into the air.

Don’t drill or saw into asbestos materials

Seek the advice of a professional. They are trained in getting rid of the asbestos and will carry out the removal. They may take a sample first to see what kind of asbestos it is.

Don’t try and get rid of the asbestos yourself

What will the professional do
They may first of all take a sample of the asbestos, there are different types.
They will then remove it.
They will take it to a special place where asbestos is stored, these sites must be licensed.

Who to contact?
You should contact your local authority in the first place

For advice you can contact the Department of the Environment’s hazardous waste unit: telephone 028 9056 9710