While there are a few jobs around the home we can DIY, we’re relying for the most part on the skill of a builder, electrician or plumber to repair and maintain what for many is our greatest asset. A bad job can significantly damage a home, which makes looking for the right tradesman a nerve-wracking experience. If you’ve been burned by a bad tradesman in the past, you might spot a few red flags, but for many first-timers, a smooth-talking tradesman can explain away a major discrepancy and leave the customer out of pocket. The best thing to do is find a tradesmen via a directory such as Plentific, which will vet all tradesmen and provide a guarantee on the work that has been carried out. But whether you’re looking online or going off a friend’s recommendation, then here are some warning signs you need to look out for.
- They won’t give you any references
When you’re in talks with a tradesman about a particular service, then ask for references from past customers who have had a similar job done in the past. A tradesman might have a stack positive testimonials, but if he or she can’t back that up with a phone number or email from a happy customer, then you’ve got no way of proving whether or not they’re actually true, which makes them worthless. Whether or not your tradesman has supplied positive references, it pays to do your own research. Check their name and business on online review websites or try a simple Google search. If they have no reviews or only negative or neutral ones, then stay away.
- They want cash only
A tradesman may ask for cash for a job because it’s ‘off the books,’ meaning it’s not filed in their accounting system, and they don’t have to pay value-added tax or VAT. Ask your tradesman if the bill will include VAT when you’re discussing payment. Some small or new traders may not have to pay VAT, and your tradesman will be up front about whether this applies to them, but if they’re cagey about charging VAT, this means they don’t intend to run the job through the business. Not only are they cheating you and the government out of money, but it could be a significant problem down the line if the job goes wrong, as you’ll have no receipt of payment and no record of your sale, making a refund or disputes claim almost impossible.
- They can’t provide a quote
Before you consent to any work, you and your tradesman must have reached an agreement on the quote. Once a quote has been confirmed in writing in the UK, then under the Consumer Rights Act, it cannot be increased or decreased once the job has been completed. If your tradesman is unwilling to give a quote, or will only provide an estimate, which is not beholden to any legislation, then this is a huge red flag. If you can’t agree on a price before the job begins, then it’s time to look for someone else.