Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@. Skimlinks & other affiliated links are turned on

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • bobwilson
    • By bobwilson 10th Apr 18, 3:09 PM
    • 359Posts
    • 96Thanks
    bobwilson
    The great GREAT 'how to find a decent tradesman' hunt continues!
    • #1
    • 10th Apr 18, 3:09 PM
    The great GREAT 'how to find a decent tradesman' hunt continues! 10th Apr 18 at 3:09 PM
    I need an electrician for various jobs (light switch replacements, pendant light installations, power to garage, general electrican work in my house etc.) West London.

    Here's the backstory so far:

    1. I found a top rated electrician on rated people. Before he turns up, I explain I can do bank transfer but not cash because replacement bank card is waiting to arrive. He agrees. He then turns up & expresses dismay that I can't pay him around 500 in cash, and blames me for it, but proceeds to do the work anyway. He then broke a light switch in our hallway & put bathroom silicone over the snapped plastic, installed a porch light 2 inches below the spot agreed that was marked on the wall with a big "X" for him then lied to me about there being metal in the wall preventing him from installing it in the correct place- then sheepishly moved it to the correct place (apparently the metal has vanished!). Quality of his work was awful.. all the while he moved around the house tutting with a miserable attitude.. I won't go on... suffice it to say he asked me to give him a second chance but after more of them same, I won't hire him again.

    2. I contacted 3 electricians with good ratings on checkatrade. None responded. So, I asked for quotes from 15 more electricians on checkatrade. Only 5 replies- it seems to be 1/3 reply.

    3. I hired one, but after giving me his quote- his quote suddenly increased before turning up, for no apparent reason.

    4. I hired another electrician from checkatrade, he arrived & spent the first half hour in dismay at the other electrician's work & kept telling me stories about it; then when it came to do the job, he didn't have enough time left & told me he could only complete half of it that day. He promised to come back.

    5. I never heard from him - so I chased him to find out when he's coming back. I received a reply a week later, saying "first week of april", which sounded rather ambiguous. I suggested a date, which took him another age to reply to- finally he agreed the next available time he could do was in 10 days time at 11am.

    6. I asked him to do a few more jobs as well as the original ones planned. No reply.

    7. The day comes, and he texted me a couple of hours before arrival saying he doesn't have time to get all the parts & wants me to get them for him! I obviously have no idea what to get, what the parts are called or where to get them from, since I'm not an electrician. He replied "it'll be fine, just get them" which wasn't helpful.

    8. He texted me 5 minutes before arrival to say he can't come & wants to re-arrange for when he isn't so busy. I ask him when, no reply. He had top ratings on checkatrade & I rearranged my day to fit around him. Suffice it to say, I won't be hiring him again.

    9. I look up electricians on google map with 5* ratings, contact 4 but none answer, I leave messages & amazingly 2 reply (that's 50% reply rate which is better than before!).

    10. One of them just called me & said he might be able to come tomorrow but isn't sure. He wants to let me know tonight. Another said he might be able to come on Saturday but isn't sure. Neither of which is very specific.

    Meanwhile, most of these electricians don't answer the phone and the only way to get through is by text (which I don't mind at all), but they rarely reply.

    I'm still figuring out the best way to find decent tradesmen- and will update here once I have any more progress!


    -------------
    UPDATE:

    It's been a few days, so I thought it's time to provide a (rather predictable) update.

    11. The electrician who said "I might come tomorrow", texted me rather suddenly the next day to say "I'm free now", with no notice. I left work & stopped everything to get home in time for him. He turned up & announced changing the light switches was a slightly bigger job than he anticipated- the reason why didn't quite make sense- but he insisted on coming back another day & refused to do the rest of the job (ceiling lamps etc.), saying "nah I wanna do all the jobs all at the same time". He left & needless to say I never heard from him again.

    12. The one who said he might turn up on saturday, eventually texted me back to say he'd be here at 8am. So, I cancel my plans to go out on friday night after work & make sure I'm up early on Saturday. He then texted me at 8am Saturday morning to say "just leaving now, gonna be a bit late"- no problem, I thought, but it's now 9:15am so apparently for him "a bit" translates to well over an hour late. I texted back to ask "are you still on the way", expecting reply such as "yes, apologies, I'll be there at around x:xx time", but his reply was "yes" - and that's it!

    I'm so tired of chasing these tradesmen, of them being ridiculously late with no courtesy, not sending quotes, and at the end of the day, poor workmanship. I just need someone reliable.

    ---------------------

    UPDATE:

    13. The electrician is now 1hr 40 mins late. I am considering cancelling because I'm so sick of these people thinking they can treat customers this way. I'm not sitting in my living room relaxing while he comes, I'm putting other things off waiting for him. After over 1.5 hrs of waiting I asked him how much longer he's going to be.... I don't understand why these tradesmen think it's okay to just keep a client waiting that long without at least telling them. It emerged apparently he was replacing his car battery. All it would have taken was a simple message "Hi, I'm so sorry- my car battery stopped working, so I need to have it replaced. I'll text you as soon as I'm on my way to you, it may be a couple of hours or so. Apologies again.". - but no. Instead, they say "gonna be a bit late" and you're expected to wait around forever working out what "a bit" means.

    ----------------------
    UPDATE:

    He arrived 2 hours 10 mins late, then when I asked him to just let us know if he's going to be that late so we can plan around it, he said "IT'S NOT MY FAULT NOT MY FAULT!! I DON'T TEXT THE CUSTOMER THAT'S UP TO TOMAS NOT ME!".

    He then proceeded to do the jobs but in a very childish manner, getting annoyed with every little thing including his mobile phone when the touch screen didn't work. He started removing a light switch box I didn't want removed-
    Me: "could you leave that where it is please?"
    Him: "HANG ON!" (still removing it)
    Me: "please leave it alone"
    him: "no no wait!"
    Me: "Why don't you just leave it alone? I don't want it removed."
    Him: "NO NO NO HANG ON!" (he removed it) "SEE! IT LOOKS BETTER WITHOUT IT!!!!!"
    Me (observing the huge ugly gap wall where he removed it): "not really, I preferred it without that gaps. Could you put the light switch box back on please?"
    Him: "WHAT GAP?!!"
    Me (pointing to the gaps)
    Him: "Oh"
    He then realised his mistake and had to spend 10 minutes putting it back the way it was- all this time I was paying for.

    Half way through, he received a call from a friend and chatted to him for 10 minutes instead of doing the job. He was laughing with his friend then paused to asked me:

    Him: "how much longer do you need me?"
    Me: "as long as it takes you to finish the jobs"
    Him: "Oh err.. but what if I don't have the parts?"
    Me: "well you said you do have them, I asked you when you arrived.",
    Him: "OH but.. umm.. what if I don't?"
    Me: "Do you want to check?"
    Him: he continued laughing with his friend on the phone, ran to his car, pretended to look in a suspiciously unmotivated manner then came back and said "I don't have the part so I'll have to do it another time"
    He seemed to think that meant he could leave early whilst getting full price for 2 hours.

    He then tried to leave after 1 hr 20 mins work but charged me for 2 hours. He also wanted me to pay an extra 15 for a part that I know costs around 1.25. I asked him to show me a receipt for it, he made excuses about not having the receipt and then said "don't worry about it, I'll throw it in for free."

    He then gave me a dirty torn business card for his wife who is a cleaner and said "THAT'S MY WIFE, SHE CAN CLEAN FOR YOU"

    He thought he was going to escape early despite my paying for the full 2 hours, but instead I asked him to do some other small jobs since I'm paying for the time anyway. This did not go down well & he tutted & stomped around like an impatient child. In the end I was so sick of his attitude that I paid full price, let him go & was just relieved to see the back of him.

    He then had a cigarette on my driveway & threw it on the ground, sat in his car on my driveway for 20 minutes doing nothing & finally left.

    - this is pretty much an average experience one has with any tradesman these days. Suffice it to say I won't be hiring him again & now need to find someone else to finish the work! Someone really needs to set up a website to "out" all of these tradesmen for who they really are, including names, contact details etc. as a warning to others. Online review sites don't really work since this guy was 5* rated on google map. I can understand why people are afraid to leave honest reviews- since tradesmen know their address & so many are intimidating.

    The great GREAT tradesmen hunt continues.
    Last edited by bobwilson; 14-04-2018 at 12:47 PM.
Page 1
    • Herongull
    • By Herongull 10th Apr 18, 10:54 PM
    • 1,286 Posts
    • 723 Thanks
    Herongull
    • #2
    • 10th Apr 18, 10:54 PM
    • #2
    • 10th Apr 18, 10:54 PM
    Get recommendations from friends and neighbours instead of using sites where people either have to pay to go on or have to pay for leads. Good people get plenty of work from recommendations. Streetlife was great for this sort of thing but alas it is no more but its successor Nextdoor is also useful for this purpose.
    • nLdn
    • By nLdn 11th Apr 18, 12:29 PM
    • 55 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    nLdn
    • #3
    • 11th Apr 18, 12:29 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Apr 18, 12:29 PM
    Getting recommendations from friends would be great but in my experience, being a young London homeowner I have very few friends in my area who are in a similar position. Talking about it doesnt garner much help and is often seen as a "rich person problem" or showing off as someone unhelpfully put it to me. I live on the edge of an estate so many of the neighbours I've got to know are tenants.

    I'm looking for a plumber and builder for some work replacing radiators, plastering and decorating in my flat in N7. I started looking last year but after weeks of trying to get people in to give quotes I gave up and decided to just enjoy summer. Tradesmen are so damn flakey.

    Last year I invited 4 plumbers over for quotes. It took weeks getting people to come over, finding a suitable time, having them keep to the time and then follow up providing the actual quote.

    1 never got back to me with a quote after visiting despite chasing
    Another came had a look but said he was booked up for the summer
    One arrived late after rescheduling, on foot and it emerged they were commuting in from really far away. The quote they gave me was so low they would have been paying themselves at or below minimum wage so I dont think they'd factored in how they would actually get to me and provide the materials needed. Made me concerned for quality and his ability to complete the job.
    Another plumber seemed pretty shifty. His mate kept nosing around my property and asking me questions about any part or contents of my flat not at all related to the job. It felt like he was sizing me up or pricing the contents of the flat. I didnt feel comfortable having them in my home. I dont think they got back to me for a quote either. After weeks of entertaining this BS, with no results I decided to take a break from it.

    After a spell working away I'm now back to square one and looking again to kick off getting the work done. Already the first builder has messed me around, cancelling coming for the quote and not responding to polite chaser emails to get him in on an alternative date. I'm worried I'll get to the end of summer and still not have anything sorted out. It there really so much demand for these people's time that they can be so sh*tty?!

    On a more positive note I found an amazing local electrician who's responsive, approachable and has done some good work for me. He'll be back for the next bit of work I'm planning atm.
    • PhilE
    • By PhilE 11th Apr 18, 12:43 PM
    • 279 Posts
    • 179 Thanks
    PhilE
    • #4
    • 11th Apr 18, 12:43 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Apr 18, 12:43 PM
    Been there, completely sympathize.

    Had a tradesman recently who refused to give an invoice for a quote. I informed him I'll need a receipt at the end of the job and he cancelled.

    I want to support the small business, now I'll probably be booking through big companies where you have to pay more, but you get a proper guarantee.
    Doesn't mean the quality of work is better, just less chance of it going wrong.

    If limited companies make a real mess of things, all they have to do is change their company name.
    I rarely will support limited companies from now, and until the law changes we as consumers are taking a big chance with letting them in our homes.
    • nLdn
    • By nLdn 11th Apr 18, 1:44 PM
    • 55 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    nLdn
    • #5
    • 11th Apr 18, 1:44 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Apr 18, 1:44 PM
    After chasing again, my highly recommended builder just responded to say the job is too small for him. Theres a wasted week dealing with him right there.
    • jwil
    • By jwil 11th Apr 18, 2:21 PM
    • 8,401 Posts
    • 25,474 Thanks
    jwil
    • #6
    • 11th Apr 18, 2:21 PM
    • #6
    • 11th Apr 18, 2:21 PM
    You could see if your local council uses this site: https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/

    It's trading standards approved contractors.
    "If you can dream it, you can do it". Walt Disney
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 11th Apr 18, 3:08 PM
    • 24,902 Posts
    • 68,279 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 11th Apr 18, 3:08 PM
    • #7
    • 11th Apr 18, 3:08 PM
    Getting recommendations from friends would be great but in my experience, being a young London homeowner I have very few friends in my area who are in a similar position. Talking about it doesnt garner much help and is often seen as a "rich person problem" or showing off as someone unhelpfully put it to me. I live on the edge of an estate so many of the neighbours I've got to know are tenants.

    I'm looking for a plumber and builder for some work replacing radiators, plastering and decorating in my flat in N7. I started looking last year but after weeks of trying to get people in to give quotes I gave up and decided to just enjoy summer. Tradesmen are so damn flakey.

    Last year I invited 4 plumbers over for quotes. It took weeks getting people to come over, finding a suitable time, having them keep to the time and then follow up providing the actual quote.

    1 never got back to me with a quote after visiting despite chasing
    Another came had a look but said he was booked up for the summer
    One arrived late after rescheduling, on foot and it emerged they were commuting in from really far away. The quote they gave me was so low they would have been paying themselves at or below minimum wage so I dont think they'd factored in how they would actually get to me and provide the materials needed. Made me concerned for quality and his ability to complete the job.
    Another plumber seemed pretty shifty. His mate kept nosing around my property and asking me questions about any part or contents of my flat not at all related to the job. It felt like he was sizing me up or pricing the contents of the flat. I didnt feel comfortable having them in my home. I dont think they got back to me for a quote either. After weeks of entertaining this BS, with no results I decided to take a break from it.

    After a spell working away I'm now back to square one and looking again to kick off getting the work done. Already the first builder has messed me around, cancelling coming for the quote and not responding to polite chaser emails to get him in on an alternative date. I'm worried I'll get to the end of summer and still not have anything sorted out. It there really so much demand for these people's time that they can be so sh*tty?!

    On a more positive note I found an amazing local electrician who's responsive, approachable and has done some good work for me. He'll be back for the next bit of work I'm planning atm.
    Originally posted by nLdn
    Your electrician is who you ask for the referrals! You're in!

    What jobs are you hoping the builder/plumber to do?
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • AndyMc.....
    • By AndyMc..... 11th Apr 18, 4:22 PM
    • 1,197 Posts
    • 814 Thanks
    AndyMc.....
    • #8
    • 11th Apr 18, 4:22 PM
    • #8
    • 11th Apr 18, 4:22 PM
    Been there, completely sympathize.

    Had a tradesman recently who refused to give an invoice for a quote. I informed him I'll need a receipt at the end of the job and he cancelled.

    I want to support the small business, now I'll probably be booking through big companies where you have to pay more, but you get a proper guarantee.
    Doesn't mean the quality of work is better, just less chance of it going wrong.

    If limited companies make a real mess of things, all they have to do is change their company name.
    I rarely will support limited companies from now, and until the law changes we as consumers are taking a big chance with letting them in our homes.
    Originally posted by PhilE
    Be fair you love the drama of it all. Moaning over a carpet being lifted to access services.
    • OnTheLadder
    • By OnTheLadder 11th Apr 18, 5:00 PM
    • 23 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    OnTheLadder
    • #9
    • 11th Apr 18, 5:00 PM
    • #9
    • 11th Apr 18, 5:00 PM
    I've found a few recommendations recently through local FB groups. People tend to be willing to offer their recommendations to you, or it can be worth scrolling through as sometimes people have already asked for the same.
    • Nathaniel Essex
    • By Nathaniel Essex 11th Apr 18, 6:34 PM
    • 87 Posts
    • 50 Thanks
    Nathaniel Essex
    The second I find a decent tradesman I save his number with my life. I have had so many problems it makes me nervous about looking for people and having them come round. There was a time I wanted a pond built. Pretty decent job that I thought would get a lot of responses.

    Had three people show up, none of them got back to me. The last guy showed up, took a look around for about 10 seconds, said he knew what needed to be done and then I never heard from him. Couple days later I had some garden tools, including two lawnmowers, stolen.

    Another occasions was when I was looking to get a custom entertainment cabinet built. Again, people came over but no one took on the work. One guy went sent me a CGI render which I was happy with and I asked when we could start only for him to not respond to my messages

    Sometimes I wonder if it's the way I ask or are builders in general are just this hard to come across.
    • southcoastrgi
    • By southcoastrgi 11th Apr 18, 10:30 PM
    • 5,318 Posts
    • 3,083 Thanks
    southcoastrgi
    You could try local hero's
    I'm only here while I wait for Corrie to start.

    You get no BS from me & if I think you are wrong I WILL tell you.
    • nLdn
    • By nLdn 12th Apr 18, 2:15 PM
    • 55 Posts
    • 17 Thanks
    nLdn
    I joined a few local FB groups last year after someone on here suggested them as good sources for tradesmen. I had to unsubscribe a few months later as they were mostly full of people selling stained clothes, broken ikea furniture or potentially stolen phones and audio gear. Maybe thats just London
    • Ruski
    • By Ruski 12th Apr 18, 4:58 PM
    • 1,482 Posts
    • 875 Thanks
    Ruski
    You could try local hero's
    Originally posted by southcoastrgi
    Please don;t tell me you've signed up to that?!?!?!?

    Russ
    Perfection takes time: don't expect miracles in a day
    • bobwilson
    • By bobwilson 14th Apr 18, 8:55 AM
    • 359 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    bobwilson
    Get recommendations from friends and neighbours instead of using sites where people either have to pay to go on or have to pay for leads. Good people get plenty of work from recommendations. Streetlife was great for this sort of thing but alas it is no more but its successor Nextdoor is also useful for this purpose.
    Originally posted by Herongull
    Hi Herongull,

    I appreciate your sentiment but I have to agree with other posters you responded to your comment- it's a big jump to assume everyone has the luxury of friends or family in the area, or indeed of living in areas where the neighbours are owners and/or know of decent tradesmen. I've lived in several different areas and in each of them, the neighbours couldn't help- and even in another city where I used to live, I was in the same predicament but the neighbours didn't know of any. One neighbour (who had lived there 30 years!) came and asked me for a recommendation a month or so after I moved in ! It is THAT bad.
    • bobwilson
    • By bobwilson 14th Apr 18, 9:05 AM
    • 359 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    bobwilson
    Getting recommendations from friends would be great but in my experience, being a young London homeowner I have very few friends in my area who are in a similar position. Talking about it doesnt garner much help and is often seen as a "rich person problem" or showing off as someone unhelpfully put it to me. I live on the edge of an estate so many of the neighbours I've got to know are tenants.

    I'm looking for a plumber and builder for some work replacing radiators, plastering and decorating in my flat in N7. I started looking last year but after weeks of trying to get people in to give quotes I gave up and decided to just enjoy summer. Tradesmen are so damn flakey.

    Last year I invited 4 plumbers over for quotes. It took weeks getting people to come over, finding a suitable time, having them keep to the time and then follow up providing the actual quote.

    1 never got back to me with a quote after visiting despite chasing
    Another came had a look but said he was booked up for the summer
    One arrived late after rescheduling, on foot and it emerged they were commuting in from really far away. The quote they gave me was so low they would have been paying themselves at or below minimum wage so I dont think they'd factored in how they would actually get to me and provide the materials needed. Made me concerned for quality and his ability to complete the job.
    Another plumber seemed pretty shifty. His mate kept nosing around my property and asking me questions about any part or contents of my flat not at all related to the job. It felt like he was sizing me up or pricing the contents of the flat. I didnt feel comfortable having them in my home. I dont think they got back to me for a quote either. After weeks of entertaining this BS, with no results I decided to take a break from it.

    After a spell working away I'm now back to square one and looking again to kick off getting the work done. Already the first builder has messed me around, cancelling coming for the quote and not responding to polite chaser emails to get him in on an alternative date. I'm worried I'll get to the end of summer and still not have anything sorted out. It there really so much demand for these people's time that they can be so sh*tty?!

    On a more positive note I found an amazing local electrician who's responsive, approachable and has done some good work for me. He'll be back for the next bit of work I'm planning atm.
    Originally posted by nLdn
    I agree wholeheartedly with you- everything rings true with me also & with everyone I know. I think the problem stems from the tradesmen culture in the UK. I've lived in other countries where apprentices still exist & people become tradesmen because it's something they WANT to do, but the vast majority of people in parts of the UK seem to "fall" into the job because they're looking for an easy (lazy) way to make money without having to go to University. Many think it's an easier or faster way for them to make money than anything else. This isn't conducive of a healthy workforce.

    Back in the 1950s, tradesmen used to work & train very hard, be reliable, polite, and proud of what they do. Nowadays, tradesmen are lazy, very highly paid (because they all put prices up so it becomes a monopoly) & not as skilled in the workmanship, or the scheduling side.
    • bobwilson
    • By bobwilson 14th Apr 18, 9:17 AM
    • 359 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    bobwilson
    BTW, I just updated the original post with the latest story of what's happened since.
    • bobwilson
    • By bobwilson 14th Apr 18, 9:28 AM
    • 359 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    bobwilson
    Sometimes I wonder if it's the way I ask or are builders in general are just this hard to come across.
    Originally posted by Nathaniel Essex
    I used to wonder that- but going by the sheer number of people who have problems, I think it's the way most tradesmen are unfortunately.

    Having said that, I had a plumber here once, and whilst it took me an age to persuade him to turn up, someone with a very strong official voice called him who turned out to be a wealthy client with a big mansion & attitude to match- and he answered instantly & cow-tow'd to everything, even telling me he might have to cancel the rest of my job to get to that client because he doesn't want to let that one down! It seems for those of us who aren't multi-millionaires or live average lives, they can't really be bothered. So much for treating all customers equally hey.

    I had another tradesman so something similar- I booked him in for several weeks work on a very decent job for me building various furniture, but when he had any new client ask him to do anything, he seemed to think I'm a "sure thing", so he would suddenly announce he can't come to work for me the next day because he wants to go to the other client to do a new job. He did this several times. This resulted in my job taking him a lot longer.

    Something really needs to be done in the UK.. the government needs to put some adverts on TV like they do for the army & teachers- but for the new generation to become tradesmen & be proud of what they do, to turn up on time, be reliable & train to have good workmanship etc.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

3,715Posts Today

7,027Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • I've decided my weekend starts here while the sun's glow is still baskable. So I'm signing off. Have a great weeke? https://t.co/9FxNEpDs6p

  • No not correct. The big six do, but you can get fixed tariffs guaranteed not to rise and about 25% cheaper. Just tr? https://t.co/B2ft5OS3Ig

  • Baaaa! Scottish Power has bleated and followed the herd, today announcing it's putting up energy prices by 5.5%. R? https://t.co/vi3hBxo4Hn

  • Follow Martin