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How to avoid rogue tradesmen

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If it’s not the news that tells us of rogue tradesmen, it’s the TV. Such is the problem these days, that there are now dedicated programs who’s mission it is to uncover and expose these bad apples. It does seem to be a growing problem in the UK.

However, not all tradesmen are rogues and most will do an honest and fair job for a fair price. There are key things you should look for when picking any tradesman to do work on your home – and a few things to be aware of.

  • Look for testimonials online. The Internet is filling up with feedback – both positive and negative – from people who have had work done previously from tradesmen in your area. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yell.com are great places to root out feedback. Vigilance in this area will pay dividends down the line.
  • If they have a website, then they’re probably a legitimate business. If they don’t, you may want to think about using them.
  • Membership of trade associations should always be checked out. Never take their word for it that they are “Fair Trades approved”, “Gas Safe registered” or “A member of the FMB”. A quick call to any of these organisations will tell you if this is the case.
  • If they don’t have a website, look for proof of the business through the thousands of online directories which are available and free to use. Try and avoid dealing with people who don’t have a landline and rely purely on a mobile phone.
  • Paying cash might lower your bill a little – and it’s an attractive proposition given the cost of things these days, but paying cash to avoid paying VAT also often removes the need for the tradesman to hand you a receipt - your proof that the job was done should anything go wrong.
  • If someone knocks on your door, suggesting they are working in your area and has some ‘stuff left over which will sort your drive out nicely”, be very aware. It’s unlikely that these will be genuine skilled chaps who offer a quality job or any guarantees.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for references or to see if you can visit the homes of former customers – certainly if you’re going to be forking out thousands of pounds for a loft conversion or a new roof.
  • Good tradesmen, specifically those doing bigger jobs, such as roofing or building work, are generally quite busy. If someone comes to see you the day you call and suggests he can start work tomorrow, beware! It doesn’t mean he’s not credible, but it does mean he’s not busy. You may want to understand why.
  • Guarantees are something to be extra wary of, certainly if they are just verbal. If a guarantee of work is offered, which it should be, then get that guarantee in writing. Always!
  • It’s common practice to pay a deposit for work to be done, certainly for large works, but make sure you get a receipt for the money you pay and be clear as to what needs to be done before any other money is handed over.
  • Never pay for a job in full before it is completed to your satisfaction.

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" Since taking a Per Call site my business has probably doubled in size. Like anyone who hears about something which appears 'too good to be true' I was cynical at first, but I'm very busy while others are very quiet. That kind of says it all. "

Dave Jones - Roof Care Nottingham

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