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.
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.
EATRUST YOUR PLUMBER
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.
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.
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