What factors should I consider when choosing the right tradesperson for a project?
Reputation is key when choosing the right tradesperson for your project. Using a site like Rated People gives you access to customer reviews of local tradespeople, as well as photos of past jobs and other useful information. At Rated People, our ratings system is ‘closed loop’ meaning that only customers who have found their tradesperson through the site are able to leave a rating on that tradesperson—helping you make an informed decision about who to hire.
We always encourage homeowners to conduct their own due diligence. Make sure to ask to see the tradesperson’s portfolio, and if possible try to speak to previous customers for feedback. Decide on timelines, costs, a payment plan and guarantees before the project starts—and get it all in writing.
See also: Choosing the Right Builder
How can I ensure that I’m paying the correct amount for a project?
Before you start your project, it’s imperative that you decide on timelines with your chosen tradesperson, and make sure that you agree costs and a payment plan in writing before the project starts. It’s a good idea to ask for quotes from a couple of tradespeople. This will help you to get a better idea of the average cost for your project.
Always treat your relationship with your tradesperson professionally. Make sure that your brief to them is clear, that they understand the brief and that you receive email or written confirmation of anything that you agree to.
Do not go by verbal agreements, particularly on larger projects. Even on smaller projects, it’s very easy to send the tradesperson a simple email detailing what you’ve agreed and what has been quoted before you give the go-ahead for your project.
Preparation is key. Make sure there are agreed checkpoints (again, in writing) during the project. This is in case you change your mind, the project grows, or the tradesperson identifies something they didn’t recognise initially. You can then review progress and have time to think about any new considerations.
Be reasonable and realistic. Keep in mind that while you love your home and may have a lot of design ideas, the likelihood is that your chosen tradesperson will know your home better than you—structurally speaking. So what you think might work, might not work in reality. You should be prepared to find different solutions, and be flexible with your plans. It’s also good to check if you require planning permission, or if you need to use a surveyor or architect before you begin your project.
See also: Home Improvements
If things don’t work out and I am cheated by a tradesperson, where can I go to get help and compensation?
First off, use reputable sources for finding the tradesperson. Do not use directories, door drops or ads posted in shop windows. Directories take money from anyone who wants to post a job. Come to sites like Rated People where you can find real ratings and reviews of the tradesperson’s previous work, and where there is a screening process of tradespeople in place.
The most important thing to remember is to always approach things on a professional, factual and unemotional basis. If things start going wrong it’s very easy for tempers and emotions to soar, which can hinder the resolution process.
Sit down with the tradesperson, have face-to-face meetings and then confirm your plan in writing. Have a conversation, confirm what you’ve agreed and then check back on this agreement over the course of the project.
If you’ve found the tradesperson through one of the sector’s sites then you should highlight this to the particular site. We always support homeowners in this situation, and we try to make contact with the tradespeople on the homeowner’s behalf.
Rated People have a partnership with an alternative disputes resolution provider and mediator—Small Claims Mediation. This is a low-cost solution (which costs £50 for each, for homeowners and tradespeople) which sits down with both parties, helping to facilitate a resolution and reach a conclusion.
Make sure to leave a rating and review to ensure that other people are made aware of your experience. Frequently, by leaving a factual and unemotional rating and review on the tradesperson’s profile it will encourage the tradesperson to get in touch.
If this situation deteriorates, you should contact Citizens Advice.
What’s the secret of a good relationship with the tradesperson working on a project in my home or business?
The success of the tradesperson-homeowner relationship is also dependent on both parties communicating the project’s requirements up front and agreeing on a budget. We conducted a survey on homeowner and tradesperson etiquette and we found that almost half of all tradespeople surveyed said, the most annoying thing that a customer can do is watch over them while they’re working.
Over 30 percent of homeowners and tradespeople say project cost issues are the biggest cause of their relationship breakdown, with 35 percent of tradespeople claiming that homeowners have an unrealistic expectation of costs. Having realistic expectations about the scope, time and price of the project is key for both homeowners and tradespeople. Agreeing on these points at the beginning of the project will make for a harmonious working environment, and will help to build trust between both parties.
Be clear about your vision. Do your research beforehand so you won’t be afraid to ask questions about the project. Your tradesperson will appreciate you taking the time to understand what you want from the project.
Make sure you give as much detail as possible at the initial stages of the job, like whether your budget allows for materials or just labour. Be clear about what you want; the more specific you are, the easier it’ll be for your contractor to give you an accurate quote.
See also: How to Add Value to Your Home
How can I ensure I am protected in case accidents happen on my property?
To give you peace of mind, ask the tradesperson if he or she has public liability insurance and ask to see a copy—particularly for high risk projects. PLI covers the tradesperson and usually everyone else on the property, from a personal injury claim and damage to your property. It’s also worth checking if they’re registered with a health and safety body like SafeContractor.