As a handyman, I have seen my fair share of dodgy work and always feel sorry for a homeowner unhappy with the quality of workmanship. Ironically, often the worst tradespeople can also be the ones who drastically overcharge.

Unfortunately, there is no one way to be sure about a tradesman until after you have used them but these tips should help you on your way

1) Telephone
In the past, people looked for landline numbers as a good sign but nowadays many trades work from a mobile. I would, however, be alert if your tradesman has an 0800 number, they are either a national company with extra layers of cost or they may be using the 0800 to provide some anonymity.

2) Choose local
In Harborough, word of mouth travels fast; good and bad. A trader from further afield may be a bit cheaper but a Harborian, who you may bump into in the market, has a reputation to uphold. If it is not provided ask for the supplier’s physical, bricks-and-mortar trading address (could be home or office) and check that it is correct.

3) Recommendation
Usually the best guide but not infallible. Don’t use recommendations as the only way to choose.

4) Quotes
Definitely get a couple. Ask what the cost is excluding materials, how long the job will take and how many people are on the job. If they are charging less than £100 per day it’s a part-timer playing at it. Cannot afford to run a van, buy tools, get insurance, etc. More than £250 a day is someone trying to make a quick buck at your expense.

5) Insurance
Anyone working on your property needs to have liability insurance. Anyone with insurance will be happy to prove it.

6) Trust
Ask yourself if you would happily have the person doing the job in your home, using your toilet. If there are any concerns it’s a no.

7) Timing
When can you start? If the answer is in the next few days you have to wonder why they aren’t busy. If you want something done, ask a busy person – Benjamin Franklin

8) Payment
Don’t pay upfront, sometimes a payment to cover materials is necessary but should be specified in the quote. Also, extra work should be agreed upon prior to that work being done, and don’t be bounced into extra charges. Ensure the work is all good and to the agreed spec before final payment.

Question the motive of someone looking for payments in cash only, if they are looking to cut corners on paying the taxman, what else are they prepared to compromise on?

Author: Stuart Beard, Harborough Handyman

Stuart Beard
Author: Stuart Beard