Voice of the Industry- The moron’s guide to choosing a tradesman - Lessons learnt

Chris Barling of Powered Now fesses up.

I am a moron. I showed it the first time that I got some work done on my house. We found three random tradesmen. We got three quotes for new guttering and downpipes. We chose the cheapest (by far).

He did the work and announced that he had finished. “What about the downpipes, you haven’t done them” we queried. “That couldn’t possibly be included in the price, did anyone else quote to do them for a price near mine” was the answer. We reluctantly agreed to pay more for the downpipes and the tradesman finished the work. Three weeks later one of the gutters fell off. After weeks of chasing he returned and fixed it back up. A few weeks later it fell off again. Chalk this up to lesson one in the school of hard knocks.

This experience illustrates perfectly why 72% of homeowners use tradesmen based on personal recommendation or previous experience with them, according to the recent Powered Now survey of more than 1,000 tradesmen. The whole field is fraught with tank-traps, so we all want to find a way to navigate through safely.

My daughter and her husband recently had their house renovated. My daughter is an architect so she is in the trade, and used tradesmen that all had been recommended. Unfortunately one was a plumber who had a particular trait. That was, you could always tell where he had been as there would be at least one pool of water slowly accumulating where he had been working. Yes really. After a few such occurrences, he was sacked and someone else used to clear up the mess. So even using recommendation isn’t entirely safe.

What about the new methods of finding people online? You can simply search in Google which has all of the old problems of Yellow Pages. The alternative is to use one of the market places that are now regularly advertising on TV, like Rated People, Checkatrade or My Builder.

In fact, Powered Now’s survey of over a thousand homeowners found that 12% had used one of these market places in the last year to find a trade company, more than had used Yellow Pages, Thomson Local and local papers combined. Of those that used these services, 41% were satisfied or very satisfied, but 14% were still either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, which is around 1 in 7.

So there you have it. Use personal recommendation where you can, but still beware. If finding a tradesman by other means, be particularly careful, and maybe test them out with a small initial job. Once you have a good tradesmen, try to never lose them.

Am I still a moron? Probably, but certainly an older and a slightly wiser one.

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