What's the best way to protect myself from a rogue/poor tradesman?

Hi all 

I'm planning on getting my bathroom done soon. This will be the first major project on the house since we moved in nearly 10 years ago. I'm extremely nervous as we've had various tradesman for other stuff who have messed up the house or not done a perfect job.

I'm trying to gather as many tips as I can to help best avoid poor tradesman or mitigate the financial damage from a poor job. 

For example, should I get everything done through a local bathroom showroom/shop? Do I check a tradesman insurance and if so, how would I go about making a claim if they bundled something? What's the usual deposit to pay? 

Any helps or tips will be much appreciated 


  • tacpot12tacpot12 Forumite
    7.2K Posts
    Seventh Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    The best tip I know is to only use tradespeople that come with a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust implicitly. They should also have done at least one similar sized job for the person recommending them, and ideally, they would have done more than one job for other people you know. 

    Good tradespeople tend to be busy, and therefore booked up for months in advance. Expect to have to pay a small deposit (£200-250?) to secure a slot in their calendar. Make sure that you get a receipt that says this is refundable and under what conditions. e.g. if you change your mind and give them at least one month's notice of this, or if they don't offer a start date within six months or whatever you are happy to agree to. I would not pay any more of a deposit than this.  

    Check their accounts online if they are a limited company, and check to see if the Directors' home addresses are listed at Companies House.  

    Agree a sensible payment schedule: £x when materials are delivered to your home (NOT BEFORE) and the remainder within two weeks of the job being done. A good tradersperson will not expect his customers for finance his business, so don't pay for materials up front - only pay when they are delivered to your home AND check/change the contract so that they become yours when you pay for them. This might require the tradesperson to generate two invoices, which they might baulk at, but it will only be for the major items, such as bath/basin/toilet/shower tray/enclosure/shower mixer valve Tell them anything costing more than £100, you want a receipt from them for it. Don't expect the prices on the invoice to reflect what the tradesperson paid, as they need to add an amount to the basic costs to cover the overheards of ordering, financing, collecting and delivering items and dealing with warranty claims. This overheard might be as high as half of the cheapest purchase price you might find on the internet, as the supplier cannot spend the time researching specific items. If you want to buy items yourself, and have the tradesperson fit these for you, you need to discuss this approach early on. 

    A good tradesperson will have reasonable payment terms, e.g. payment is due in 14 days for the final balance. This allows you time to check that there are no leaks from the bathroom, but you need to pay promptly on day 14 as the tradesperson has to put food on their table, and may have employees and suppliers to pay. Don't pay in full on the day the job is completed AND don't engage a tradesperson where this is what they expect.  

    Asking if they have professional liability insurance, and ask the name of the insurer and for the policy number. A good trader will have their current insurance policy ready to email out to commercial customers, so there's no reason why a domestic customer shouldn't have a copy.

    Make it clear to the tradesperson that you are serious and that you have the money to proceed. Tradespeople will only change their business processes slightly (good traders appreciate the risks to the customer of engaging them), but all the above is what I would expect of someone doing major work in my house. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • asheashe Forumite
    1.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Above is all great advice. Steer clear from check a trade, trust a trader etc as they're all just paid for listing sites

    ask for recommendations on local Facebook groups, including pictures of work. Investigate the traces social media if they have some. Get several quotes for an identical spec and get a feel of them from how they interact with you 

    be aware if you buy items yourself there can be big savings but as said above it's then your responsibility which is why you pay those overheads. Depends how you want it to be handled 
  • Martin_the_UnjustMartin_the_Unjust Forumite
    868 Posts
    500 Posts Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    If you give people on here an idea of the general area you live in then we may be able to recommend someone.
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