Employing a trader

Page updated on: 20/06/2022

It can be a bit of a minefield trying to choose a tradesman.  Here are some points to consider before engaging the services of anyone.

Shop around and do your research

Don’t go for the first trader you come across. It is always advisable to obtain two or three quotes from different traders in order to compare what is being offered.

Ask friends or family if they have had similar work carried out by a trader. If not, don’t be afraid to ask the trader for references or try to arrange to see previous work that they have carried out.

You may need to employ a professional to oversee larger projects, for example, an architect.

Have a plan

You may be spending a lot of money so make sure you take sufficient time to think things through and don’t be pressurised into agreeing to work that you don’t want or need. Make sure that you get a written quotation (which is legally binding) or written contract and not just an estimate (which can alter). Make sure it includes:

  • Detailed description of the work to be carried out
  • The final price. Also be wary if you’re asked for a large deposit in advance
  • When the work will start and finish
  • The full name and address of the trader on headed business paper, including a land-line telephone number. Be wary of traders who only provide a mobile number or who ‘cold call’ at your door
  • Whether the price includes VAT. If it does, check that the trader’s VAT registration number is displayed on the paperwork
  • If building control/planning permission is required, ascertain whether it is the trader or you that will assume responsibility. Please note that it is the householder who is ultimately responsible if building control has not been complied with

Ask questions

Any reputable trader will not mind you asking a few questions. For example:

  • Whether adequate insurance is held (to cover damage to yours or your neighbour’s property) and to cover death/personal injury
  • Whether they belong to a Trade Association. If so, you can ask to see membership details. Membership is optional except that all gas installers must be Gas Safe registered. If not registered, it is illegal to work on a gas appliance and also extremely dangerous.
  • Whether a guarantee is offered
  • If waste material is to be removed by the trader, are they a Registered Waste Carrier? New rules mean householders may be liable if ‘fly-tipped’ items are traced back to the property they originated from. A Waste Transfer Note is also required for each journey. If in doubt check with the Environment Agency.