How to find good builders, plumbers, electricians and other local tradesmen

Having to find good local tradesmen when no one you know can recommended one for a job you need doing can be tricky. But getting it right is fundamentally important if you don’t want to have to pay to correct work that was done badly, or even plain wrong. Cowboy builder

Worse still, especially if the work is of a structural nature and involves the electrics, you could be left with a dangerous home which might be breaking the conditions of your home insurance cover.

However, with a bit of common sense and investigative digging, you should be able to avoid the cowboys and find a qualified, competent tradesman who will do a decent job without ripping you off in the process.

Personal recommendations

The first thing to do is to ask friends and family if they know anyone they can recommend as the chances are they’ll be both competent and won’t want to mess you around.

Ask if you can check out the work they did, ask how much it cost and whether it was completed on time.

Be wary if the tradesman is a relation of friends as it may be that the recommendation was made out of a desire to help the family member get work, rather than because they are good at what they do.

Check tradesmen online

If no one you know is able to make a recommendation, websites such as and are useful for finding out the opinions of other people who live locally.

These sites work by putting those who need work to be done in touch with tradesmen. The tradesman that advertise their services on the sites live and die by the consensus opinions of those they have done work for and who leave their comments about them.

As with eBay and Amazon, it’s soon clear which tradesmen are really good at what they do and which struggle to garner decent reviews from previous clients.

Watch out for those comments which are rather too enthusiastic and quite often posted rapidly over a short space of time (check the dates of the posting) and sound very similar. It’ll probably be a tradesman trying to boost their profile and cover up for other shoddy reviews by using false names.

You could also use the postcode search on the Trading Standards website.

Check credentials

If a gas engineer says they’re CORGI registered, or if a builder says they’re in the Federation of Master Builders, ask for proof. Don’t just take their word for it.

Certain jobs, such as the installation of a boiler, have to be done by a qualified individual if they’re to meet legal requirements.

Of course, some tradesmen are perfectly competent and good at what they do without such qualifications. But such individuals should probably only be employed if you’re totally happy with the recommendation you’ve had and you’ve checked out other work they’ve done.

Always get written quotations

It’s vital that you get a quote for a job in writing.

The quote should include the full name and, if possible, company and/or home address of the individual or company quoting for the work, as well as the total cost, how long the job is expected to take and any potential problems they foresee.

If a tradesman tries to subsequently adjust a quote, make sure you get that in writing too.

Don’t always go for the cheapest option

If you decided to try and save money by going for the cheapest quote you’ve had, rather than the person you think would be best for the job, you could live to regret it.

Don’t pay all at once up front

If any tradesman asks you to pay in full up front, be very wary.

Whether it’s building or plumbing work, it’s standard industry practice to either agree 50% payment at the start of a job (this is usually for materials etc.), or staggered payments during it and then 50% on completion, or payment only on completion (which is nearly always the case with small-to-medium-sized jobs such as changing a fuse box, installing kitchen worktops or putting in a conservatory).

Check the tradesman is insured, and check your home insurance

For larger jobs, and jobs which may require a certified individual to do them (re-wiring a house, for example, or fitting a gas fire), you should check the tradesman has the correct insurance.

If something goes wrong after the work is completed, or even while it’s being done, you might need to seek compensation.

Likewise, always check with your insurer to make sure you’re covered during major building work and other projects of a more serious nature. Tell them in advance as they may need to adjust your cover, possibly increasing your premiums slightly, while the work is carried out.

If you don’t, and something goes wrong, you could find you have invalidated your cover and won’t be able to claim; if subsequently and boiler explodes, or a roof falls in, and it turns out the tradesman is responsible but isn’t insured, your insurer might not pay up themselves for the damage caused.


Policy Expert

Here at Policy Expert, our dedicated customer service team is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email

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