Sometime it can be difficult to know where to turn to choose a reliable trader. Your first port of call should be the Checkatrade Trading Standards approved trader scheme. The following points will also help you to select wisely and reduce the possibility of problems.
Choosing a trader
- Ask friends and family to recommend traders where possible.
- Get at least three different quotes before having work carried out.
- Check that all quotes are provided in writing.
- Check whether you are given a quote or an estimate. A quote is a fixed price for the job and should not change, whereas an estimate can vary by a reasonable amount.
- Check that the quote includes an inclusive price and details all work that you have requested.
- Check that the quote includes a timescale for the work to be started and completed.
- Check that you have adequate contact details for the trader including an address and landline phone number.
- Check that you are not required to pay for the work in advance. You should always aim to keep back at least some money until the work is completed.
Questions to ask traders
- How long have you been in business? Established traders are less likely to disappear in the middle of a job.
- Are you a member of a trade association? Some trade associations operate codes of practice that offer extra protection to consumers and some offer mediation or conciliation services to help resolve disputes. You should contact the trade association to see what extra protection they offer and to check that the trader is a member, for example a reputable builder will be a member of the Federation of Master Builders or the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
- Can I see references? Ask to see references for similar work the trader has done in the past.
- Do you have insurance to cover damage to property? Check that this will cover your neighbours property as well as your own, where appropriate.
- Is the work guaranteed? If a guarantee is provided check whether this is insurance backed, since this will mean you will be protected even if the trader goes out of business.
Points to remember when using a trader
- Check that you are happy with the standard of the work before paying the bill. If you are not, refuse to pay until the problems are rectified.
- Pay by credit card where possible, as you will often get extra protection. Otherwise, try to pay by cheque rather than cash.
- Never agree to go with a trader to the bank or building society in order to withdraw money.