Our tips on avoiding rogue traders…

People always talk about knowing a ‘great plumber or electrician’ – in our experience personal recommendation is one of the best ways to ensure you avoid cowboy tradesmen. If you are looking to replace your boiler or windows and one of your neighbours or friends has just carried out similar works then ask them if the person they used was any good. If they start singing the praises of their chosen contractor then chances are you should be okay!

Qualifications often prove competence
There are lots of different qualifications and accreditations that builders can go through which demonstrate competence. In some cases, qualifications are a must – for example anyone working with gas must be on the Gas Safe register, Anyone working with Electrics must be Part P registered and on the government electrical competent person register. A builder should be happy to provide evidence of any certificates they hold – so always ask to see them!

Be very specific specifying the works you want carried out
If you want works carried out, ensure you know exactly what the works are and try as best you can to specify them. The internet is a fantastic tool to help householders do the necessary research before carrying out any work. If you tell a boiler engineer you are looking to install a new boiler for example – you need to specify the type of boiler and the manufacturer – otherwise they can pretty much install whatever they want on your wall (i.e. a lower cost boiler) but keep the price the same thereby making larger profits.

Agree the price of the job before starting any works
It may sound daft to start works before agreeing a final price – but it happens more than you think. The tradesman verbally says the job will cost XYZ and then they sting you with extras and unforeseen additional costs. A cowboy builder might be highly competent but they might see an opportunity to take their client for a ride over cost. Avoid cowboy tradesmen by agreeing all works in written form that you can hold them too.

Pick installers who specifically carry out the works you want
As the saying goes, Jack of all trades, master of none. Occasionally we come across tradesmen who claim to be able to do everything – which on the face of it sounds great. In reality, it tends to mean that their experience with specific technologies is far lower. From their point of view, it allows them to be able to capture a large customer base because they cover everything, but we would recommend bringing in specialists.

Minimise upfront payments
Never, ever pay for the entirety of a job before anything starts – the lower the deposit you need to pay before works start the better, since there is more money left on the job so you have more control over the tradesman. Always retain a percentage of the cost of the job to be paid on completion until you are totally satisfied with the works.

Electrical Competent Person Register and Gas Safe Register - Tradespeople listed on suffolktrades.com have to be listed - anyone else attempting work in your home is a liability and should be avoided for there own safety and yours
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