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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Jenny
    • By MSE Jenny 4th Mar 10, 1:09 PM
    • 1,228Posts
    • 3,559Thanks
    MSE Jenny
    Great 'how to find decent tradesmen' hunt
    • #1
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:09 PM
    Great 'how to find decent tradesmen' hunt 4th Mar 10 at 1:09 PM
    Everyone has heard horror stories about rogue brickies and dodgy plumbers. So we want to tap MoneySavers for their top tips on finding decent traders.

    What’s the best way to get quotes, haggle and avoid paying for work you don’t need? Are there any calamities you you’ve learned from?

    Hit reply to share your suggestions.

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

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    Last edited by MSE Deborah; 09-03-2010 at 8:37 PM.
Page 1
    • WestonDave
    • By WestonDave 4th Mar 10, 1:14 PM
    • 5,038 Posts
    • 8,521 Thanks
    WestonDave
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:14 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:14 PM
    If you have one good tradesman, and need someone in a different field, ask the one you know because chances are they've probably worked with them.

    For example we had our house rewired using a contractor I've used through work. At one point they dislodged part of the heating system and had to call a plumber in to repair the pipe. We then (after getting a couple of quotes) got that plumber in to replace the heating system, but before we could do that we needed to replaster the downstairs toilet - the plumber came up trumps with a good plasterer who was good value and a nice chap to have in the house. All 3 have been referred on to friends and have done good jobs for them as well.
  • bosseyed
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:25 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:25 PM
    If you have one good tradesman, and need someone in a different field, ask the one you know because chances are they've probably worked with them.

    For example we had our house rewired using a contractor I've used through work. At one point they dislodged part of the heating system and had to call a plumber in to repair the pipe. We then (after getting a couple of quotes) got that plumber in to replace the heating system, but before we could do that we needed to replaster the downstairs toilet - the plumber came up trumps with a good plasterer who was good value and a nice chap to have in the house. All 3 have been referred on to friends and have done good jobs for them as well.
    Originally posted by WestonDave
    I'd second this - once you've found someone half decent for one aspect, they generally seem to know other trades for other bits and bobs. Our guys who did most of the stuff to our house knew plasterers, plumbers, sparks etc etc, and they all did a top job.

    As for finding someone worth the money in the first place - there is no magic solution I don't think. Using people after recommendations from friends and family is always good, but not always applicable. In which case I simply work through the yellow pages, I pluck a large number of relevant trades from those which run adverts I like the look of and have all the relevant qualifications/members of the relevant professional bodies - then I chuck out the ones that don't answer the phone - those I get to speak to, straight away you'll form some sort of judgement about what they're like - are they polite, are they articulate are they knowledgeable about their subject yadda yadda yadda. Arrange appointments for them to see the property etc and view the works, every one I've ever spoken to is happy to do this for free. Once you've got them on site its all down to how you feel with them I suppose. Are they confident about doing the job, do they sound enthused, are they nice people? Many won't want to commit to giving a price on the spot which is fair enough, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    Once the quotes start rolling back in, then its up to you and your criteria. I've gone with people slightly more expense as I got a better 'vibe' from them when meeting them - but ultimately you just have to take a punt and hope with an unknown contractor, but theres no other way.

    Like I said above, that system worked well enough to filter out the overpriced and grumpy guys and found us a couple of really nice chaps and they were considerate and knowledgable, punctual, polite and well priced. They treated the house with respect and the work they did was top notch.
  • libbyc3
    • #4
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:28 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Mar 10, 1:28 PM
    not ideal I know, but findabuilder.com was where we went for some plastering we've just had done. You post your job, tradesmen get back to you and if they've had work via the site before you can read the feedback from previous jobs.
    We had 12 plasterers reply, had 3 quotes and the job was done well and at a good price.
    not as good as word of mouth, but if you are like us and fairly new to an area it might be a good place to start.
  • cons
    • #5
    • 4th Mar 10, 4:42 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Mar 10, 4:42 PM
    i would say recommendations are best bet

    our sparky, plasterer, windows, carpet fitter all came from a previous experience
    • Canucklehead
    • By Canucklehead 4th Mar 10, 5:23 PM
    • 6,262 Posts
    • 3,371 Thanks
    Canucklehead
    • #6
    • 4th Mar 10, 5:23 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Mar 10, 5:23 PM
    Good afternoon: consumers could start off by using tradespersons who are qualified/experienced in their respective fields and maintain both trade registration and insurance e.g. for plumbers try the CIPHE.

    Haggling can sometimes result in the cheapening of the specification and corner cutting so be careful how close to the bone you want to slice.

    Try using tradespersons recommended to you by a source you trust and always compare your quotes like for like.

    Ensure the works follow building regulations otherwise as you will be left holding the can and the cost...more on the Planning Portal.

    And finally...lots of good advice available on this forum.

    HTH

    Canucklehead
    Ask to see CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering)
  • nickj
    • #7
    • 4th Mar 10, 7:15 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Mar 10, 7:15 PM
    word of mouth or recommendation is always the best way , you can always have a look at someone's work rather than plucking a random name out of the yellow pages who you've never heard of ,
    also accept the fact that things do go wrong - it's the persons ability to correct things that counts
    if you are thinking about double glazing - give the big well known brands a wide berth , you are after a reasonable quote and job , any company who can knock 1000s of their price is never going to give you their best deal , just what they think they can get away with
    • anniebeetham
    • By anniebeetham 9th Mar 10, 10:37 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    anniebeetham
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 10, 10:37 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 10, 10:37 PM
    Just a quick word of warning - I used ratedpeople.com and though I expect there will be plenty of fine upstanding tradespeople who do good work for a fair price on there, sites like ratedpeople are really no more than a noticeboard.
    My request for a quote for full house rewire went on there last June: the electrician still owes me 164 for work not carried out, it is still unfinished, he provided a worthless 'certificate', told me that he was going bankrupt, lied to Trading Standards Officer that he was going bankrupt, fraudulently sent me a copy of a solicitor's letter from a previous occasion when he had defaulted on payments to creditors after registering voluntary insolvency. The work was assessed and found to be unsatisfactory and, in all, it will probably cost me about 800 or so to have everything put right and made safe on top of the 3000+ he was paid. There are lots more examples of his dishonesty and incompetence - I've cited just some of them.
    There was good - some excellent - feedback from satisfied customers for him on the Rated People site. I wrongly assumed that to be on a site like that you had to be properly qualified and belong to recognised bodies which train & monitor your work. I was wrong. It has cost me a lot of money. I have been extremely angry and upset and still alternate between thinking 'Blow it, I'll get it sorted, put it all behind me and move on, put it down to experience' and thinking 'Why should he get away with it? I won't give up.' I am disappointed to say the very least that there is nothing I can do.
    • michaels
    • By michaels 9th Mar 10, 10:56 PM
    • 21,579 Posts
    • 100,191 Thanks
    michaels
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 10, 10:56 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 10, 10:56 PM
    Same experience with rated people - very good reviews but did an appalling job and couldn't be bothered to come back and do snagging for the 100 retained I held - must have got his mates to make up the reviews cos I am a better carpenter...

    Just a quick word of warning - I used ratedpeople.com and though I expect there will be plenty of fine upstanding tradespeople who do good work for a fair price on there, sites like ratedpeople are really no more than a noticeboard.
    My request for a quote for full house rewire went on there last June: the electrician still owes me 164 for work not carried out, it is still unfinished, he provided a worthless 'certificate', told me that he was going bankrupt, lied to Trading Standards Officer that he was going bankrupt, fraudulently sent me a copy of a solicitor's letter from a previous occasion when he had defaulted on payments to creditors after registering voluntary insolvency. The work was assessed and found to be unsatisfactory and, in all, it will probably cost me about 800 or so to have everything put right and made safe on top of the 3000+ he was paid. There are lots more examples of his dishonesty and incompetence - I've cited just some of them.
    There was good - some excellent - feedback from satisfied customers for him on the Rated People site. I wrongly assumed that to be on a site like that you had to be properly qualified and belong to recognised bodies which train & monitor your work. I was wrong. It has cost me a lot of money. I have been extremely angry and upset and still alternate between thinking 'Blow it, I'll get it sorted, put it all behind me and move on, put it down to experience' and thinking 'Why should he get away with it? I won't give up.' I am disappointed to say the very least that there is nothing I can do.
    Originally posted by anniebeetham
    Cool heads and compromise
    • MakeitgoRIGHT
    • By MakeitgoRIGHT 9th Mar 10, 11:00 PM
    • 54 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    MakeitgoRIGHT
    for Air-Conditioning, Heatpumps (& Refrigeration)
    REFCOM....registered & trained engineers:

    https://secure.refcom.org.uk/refcom_company_search.aspx

    Put your postcode in and find out who is local
  • 1984ReturnsForReal
    Same experience with rated people - very good reviews but did an appalling job and couldn't be bothered to come back and do snagging for the 100 retained I held - must have got his mates to make up the reviews cos I am a better carpenter...
    Originally posted by michaels
    The thing is with ALL these finda, ratea, myhammera etc etc etc sites that people flash up on here pretty much ANYONE can join..

    If a tradesperson is willing to dish a certain % over to the website they will get jobs..

    They can also give false quotes/wins & provide their own feedback.


    DUE TO THE NUMBER OF NEW MEMBERS POSTING ON HERE RECOMMENDING "FIND" "MY" "RATE" TRADE WEBSITES I AM AMENDING THIS POST AS A WARNING TO GENUINE READERS WHO HOPE TO FIND A LITTLE GUIDANCE ON HERE.

    PLEASE TAKE SOME OF THESE POSTS WITH A LITTLE THOUGHT TO THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE POSTERS INVOLVED


    SOME ARE QUITE OBVIOUSLY IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE WEBSITES THEY RECOMMEND & SOME ARE IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF OTHERS BUT ARE SLATING THE COMPETITION & DROPPING IN THEIR OWN GOOD EXPERIENCE.
    Last edited by 1984ReturnsForReal; 10-03-2010 at 3:02 PM.
    • iamcornholio
    • By iamcornholio 9th Mar 10, 11:05 PM
    • 1,874 Posts
    • 1,133 Thanks
    iamcornholio
    The internet schemes are all useless as a source of guaranteed good trades people, and have only been set up purely as a business model to get income from the registered members, customers or both. Its a false sense of security to think that they will deliver a good tradesperson. They will delivee a person, but without the 'good' or 'trades' suffix

    The governments Quality Mark was a shambles, and its replacement Trustmark is equally useless

    Membership of the various trade associations is no guarantee either. Membership is easy to get, and you just make a complaint against a member and see how far it gets, how soon the associaion will distance itself from providing any help at all, and close ranks.

    Local councils can have some approved lists of contractors, who have gone through a vetting process, and may be useful.

    But word of mouth is the best way to get a good contractor - it's not foolproof by any means, but it is better than the other options.

    When you think that a guy does not have to be qualified to make significant structural alterations, but he does have to be qualified to put a plug socket in a kitchen. Then it begs the question as to why there is no regulation of building work, which would require tradespeople to be qualified to a standard in order to carryout building work, rather than just needing a cheeky grin and jeans halfway down their bum.
    • cazzashirley
    • By cazzashirley 9th Mar 10, 11:23 PM
    • 13 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    cazzashirley
    I have had both good and bad experiences and am not behind the door either. I did find my most valuable find on one of the web sites and I had 30 tradesmen round to look at the job. This one was honest and brought his portfolio, references of work etc and stuck by his price, ( I already had a price in mind), the job was an absolute nightmare and I can't believe he sorted it all out as it was not his fault. I have gone on to use him for every job and more than happy, and recommended him to friends, family, hairdresser, neighbours, etc and now I have to book in advance to get him lol.
    • PipDesperate
    • By PipDesperate 9th Mar 10, 11:59 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    PipDesperate
    Great value project manager/interior designer
    I know of a fantastic project manager/interior designer who handles larger building projects, complete refurbs etc. *She* went the 'extra mile' and gave a great value service making sure every detail was taken care of. She has a 'little black book' of skilled tradesmen etc, many of whom have worked with her for years & do good work at reasonable cost. She can save anyone more money than would be spent on her fee, by using trade suppliers, and there are many examples of her work to be seen in South East London and Central London. If anyone is embarking on a big project in those areas and would like details/to see pics of one of the properties she has done up, please Private Message me.
    • Patr100
    • By Patr100 10th Mar 10, 3:04 AM
    • 1,356 Posts
    • 570 Thanks
    Patr100
    Trouble is . as said , most of the "finda tradesman" sites don't guarantee a good experience.
    I used a "Fairtrades" registered builder years ago and one of their employees stole a camcorder from my house. I reported it to the police but they did nothing.
    Another "Fair Trades" company took seven weeks to fit central heating when they said it would take a week !
    I used "rated people "recently and while I got a small job done quickly , I later found they lied to me about the cost of materials that I paid extra for -
    Even word of mouth isn't great. We had someone do a job Ok the first time but when i had him do some more work he got very stroppy, and took ages to complete the job, as if he didn't care any more and he charged for lead but used cheaper zinc on the roof. I had to get it redone properly later.

    -
    ---I Shop Therefore I Am ---
  • Alan M
    There's a certain irony about this thread from my point of view.

    Two days ago I was contacted by MSE admin and informed I am no longer to recommend granite fitters to other members of MSE as I had been reported for "Abuse" by an undisclosed number of unnamed members, details of the abuse allegations will not be disclosed to me but it was made clear my account would be closed if I continued to provide recommendations.

    This was a direct result of the following thread:-

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=1742805

    I am probably in the best position to recommend for this specific industry as I know the fitters personally and know their standard of work, we don't fit, we supply them with granite to do the fitting. I simply receommend the fitter to customers who may or may not then buy granite from us depending on the colour and material choice of the end user.

    I have and always will be transparent about who I am and what I do, but it has been made very clear to me this week if I continue to provide recommendations my account will be closed and I'll be barred from posting on MSE.

    I understand the ethos of MSE and the nature of a community providing free impartial advice to others, that's how it all started, but that's not where it is now, it's grown into something bigger than Martin Lewis ever dreamed of and is now a very prominent and influential website and providing a very nice living for Martin Lewis thank you very much.

    You (MSE) can no longer pretend to be a fluffy "By the people for the people" site, you are now a commercial enterprise like it or not.

    It's time to get your heads together and consider your position on posters like me (and there are a lot of us) who are business people willing to share help and advice for free with no obvious advertising for the benefit of the members as a whole.

    As a result of my postings there will be ocassions where I benefit form the advice with sales, but the overwhelming majority of my posts never recieve any form of benefit to me whatsoever.

    If I were posting on here for purely business reasons I would have given up over 2000 posts ago as it's simply not worth it, but I continue to provide free advice to those that want it and still MSE administrators take a firm line becasue a few unnamed and unquantified individuals don't like the fact I have a business interest in the subject on which I post.....of course I do, it's why I have the knowledge to be able to post on the subject and the network of known businesses who I am able to recommed to posters.

    MSE, it's time you made a decision on who and what you are now, you are a commercial enterprise like it or not. Posters like me will not go away, in fact the bigger you get, the more you'll attract. So maybe you need to consider a category of forum membership for us, declaring our business interest so people can take our advice or leave it clear int he knowledge that we have an Inherent interest in the subject or business.
    Last edited by Alan M; 10-03-2010 at 5:17 AM.

  • GARGLEBLASTER
    Ratedpeople.com
    I'll endorse what others have said about ratedpeople.com.I used them once to find a gas fitter. OK, the price was OK and so was the work but at the end he sold me a gas detector that he said was a special price: 15. The next day I found it on sale in B & Q for 10. All attempts to get a receipt from him were to no avail and when I posted a comment on ratedpeople, it was withdrawn with no explanation. Definitely not recommended.

    I will also endorse what has been said about asking a really competent tradesman for a recommendation. I did some extensive renovation to my house and asked the builder to recommend a carpenter. Since then the carpenter has done a great deal of work for me and is in demand by many of my friends. Trouble with good tradesmen is that they are never the cheapest and they are difficult to get hold of because they are in such demand
    , but they are worth their weight in gold because in my case, I just gave them the keys to my house and told them to get on with the work. They did. Perfectly, and they saved me a great deal of stress.
    Last edited by GARGLEBLASTER; 10-03-2010 at 6:46 AM. Reason: Spelling mistake
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 10th Mar 10, 7:52 AM
    • 2,491 Posts
    • 4,996 Thanks
    VoucherMan
    I tried Rated People for some plastering work but wasn't really happy with any of the 3 quotes I got.

    Then I tried My Builder. About a dozen people quoted. Only 2 or 3 of those actually wanted to view the job before quoting. I chose the one who came up with the best ideas (fitting a false ceiling amongst others), and I've used him since.

    The quote wasn't the cheapest but I considered it to be the most 'realistic'.

    For plumbers/gas fitters I've used tradesmen who regularly advertise in the local free paper. Never let me down yet.

    I've also got a few recommendations through people at work, though I've not yet used any of them
    Last edited by VoucherMan; 10-03-2010 at 12:46 PM. Reason: correcting spelling mistakes
    • Payless
    • By Payless 10th Mar 10, 8:02 AM
    • 2,959 Posts
    • 8,410 Thanks
    Payless
    I used my builder twice. The first time I hired an excellent polish plumber who couldn't have been more helpful and I was delighted with his work. The second time I hired a local joiner whose work was seemingly good when he left but all sorts of problems emerged a month or so later. I contacted My Builder about him and they were unwilling to help except for removing my feedback. They would not change it to negative feedback. He had loads of positive feedback in his ratings but, after saying that he would come and put the problems right and not turning up, he would not answer his phone to me or respond to messages. Neither os the quotes that I accepted were the cheapest.

    A local electrician I called in an emergency tried to tell me that my house needed rewiring (it didn't) and took 1 and a half hours replace a strip light.
    Last edited by Payless; 10-03-2010 at 8:23 AM.
  • jantoby
    Bad work, out of pocket - take him to Court
    Just a quick word of warning - I used ratedpeople.com and though I expect there will be plenty of fine upstanding tradespeople who do good work for a fair price on there, sites like ratedpeople are really no more than a noticeboard.
    My request for a quote for full house rewire went on there last June: the electrician still owes me 164 for work not carried out, it is still unfinished, he provided a worthless 'certificate', told me that he was going bankrupt, lied to Trading Standards Officer that he was going bankrupt, fraudulently sent me a copy of a solicitor's letter from a previous occasion when he had defaulted on payments to creditors after registering voluntary insolvency. The work was assessed and found to be unsatisfactory and, in all, it will probably cost me about 800 or so to have everything put right and made safe on top of the 3000+ he was paid. There are lots more examples of his dishonesty and incompetence - I've cited just some of them.
    There was good - some excellent - feedback from satisfied customers for him on the Rated People site. I wrongly assumed that to be on a site like that you had to be properly qualified and belong to recognised bodies which train & monitor your work. I was wrong. It has cost me a lot of money. I have been extremely angry and upset and still alternate between thinking 'Blow it, I'll get it sorted, put it all behind me and move on, put it down to experience' and thinking 'Why should he get away with it? I won't give up.' I am disappointed to say the very least that there is nothing I can do.
    Originally posted by anniebeetham
    Don't let him get away with it. My Mum had dreadful work done by a decorator who was a member of his Trade Assn. She'd given him money for materials in advance, he didn't finish the job, put paper on wrong wall, gaps between paper, paper not straight etc etc. Trade Assn sent inspectors who said they'd never seen anything like it. On advice from Trading Standards (who knew of him already) she took the man to small claims Court and eventually got back the whole amount she'd paid plus another 2000 in accumulated interest (set by the Court) and Court costs. Took a while because he ignored all letters from the Court but we were all determined he wouldn't get away with it. Turned out he was well known to the Small Claims Court. Go for it!
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