VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 10/12/2011
Licence to thrill View our virtual exhibition and learn about the man behind 007 We're talking six weeks' work for roughly a year's salary Matthew Hoggard NEWS COMMENT BUSINESS SPORT LIFE & STYLE ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT OUR PAPERS AUDIO / VIDEO JOBS & CLASSIFIEDS MARKETS ECONOMICS INDUSTRY SECTORS COLUMNISTS MOVERS & SHAKERS MONEY LAW ENTREPRENEUR RELATED REPORTS Where am I? Home Business Money Consumer Affairs From The Times SHOP MY PROFILE SITEMAP April 17, 2008 MOST READ MOST COMMENTED MOST CURIOUS How to find a good tradesman TODAY Harry Potter storylines are gibberish, judge... How to secure someone reliable - and what to do if it all goes wrong iPhone sellers braced for hit on unsold... Fernando Torres future under threat as banks... Mark Bridge EXPLORE CONSUMER Why the great British breakfast is a killer AFFAIRS My last plumber arrived in a Mercedes, invoiced me for £500 more than his quote and dumped the steel tank he removed on the PROPERTY & MORTGAGES street. Not a happy experience, but not unusual. Problems with SAVINGS home maintenance tradesmen, including plumbers, electricians, BORROWING builders and decorators, were the main source of complaints to FOCUS ZONE INVESTMENT Consumer Direct, the government helpline, last year, generating more than 70,000 calls. FUNDS Alternative Investments: INSURANCE Have you ever dreamed of owning But most cases, including mine, go unreported and experts believe your own racehorse or a beautiful CONSUMER AFFAIRS that this figure represents a fraction of all botched jobs. So how painting? can homeowners find a reliable tradesman, ensure that the job is TAX done well and seek redress if things go wrong? PENSIONS BROADBAND Steve Playle, of Trading Standards, says that recommendations from friends and neighbours remain the best starting point, but he Alternative Investments Property Guides adds: “Always get at least three quotes and chase up references. Places & Spaces Wine & Dine If someone says that Mary down the road loved his work, don't Totally California Business Travel take his word for it, ask Mary.” Young Photographer Best Green Companies Surprise Yourself Love Nature Alternatively, Mr Playle suggests that you contact your local Wealth Management Green Money council to ask whether an assured trader scheme is in place. These list tradesmen approved by the local trading standards Survive the downturn service. The largest is the Buy With Confidence scheme in the Ten quick tips to beat a house price crash QUICKLINKS South of England, which vets applicants for “high standards” and “value” and steps in to help to resolve customer complaints. SU DOKU If a tradesman claims to be a Now Interactive CREDIT ADVICE Love Sudoku? Play our brand new RELATED LINKS member of a trade association, check it out. Mr Playle says: interactive game: with added functionality Builders feel the pain as and daily prizes “Contact the organisation to check credit crisis bites whether the trader is registered, Learn to drive a harder and ask how members are vetted Su Doku Driving Career & Jobs bargain and what extra protection Travel Podcasts Photo Galleries customers have - some Ask James associations give membership to Experian's credit expert answers your questions COMPARE & BUY anyone who sends a cheque. The best bodies are members of the Government's TrustMark scheme.” Money Shop Credit Cards Gas & Electricity Savings Accounts Note also that gas installers must be Corgi-registered by law. Mortgages Loans READERS TO THE RESCUE Cold-calling tradesmen should be rejected out of hand. One elderly man whose case was investigated by trading standards last year Credit Clinic lost £82,000 after a rogue trader offered to fix a few loose roof tiles Worried about credit card for £400. In a standard confidence trick, the trader then told the scams? Visit our Credit client that the roof and much of the building were unsound and Clinic for help and advice needed to be replaced immediately. A helping hand Solve a reader's problem to SERVICES Once you have located a handful of candidates, ask for written win John Lewis vouchers quotes based on a fixed timescale or deadline. But Mr Playle says Free Credit Report Utility Switching that a tradesman's readiness to start work straight away may be a GUIDES Business Finance Business Insurance bad sign because “a good builder is a busy builder”. Each quote should be based on an on-site assessment of the job and the price CLASSIFIEDS must include VAT unless the document states otherwise. CARS JOBS Before choosing between options, you will need to consider PROPERTY TRAVEL insurance. A tradesman should have his own specialist cover, but How to complain home insurance is an important back-up. Make your voice heard with HOLIDAYS our guide to getting redress You should also agree a payment schedule. Frank Shepherd, of Remote Kenyan barefoot Consumer Direct, says that payment by instalments is best, luxury keeping back at least 30 per cent until completion. He adds that MORTGAGES SAVE £1200 per person credit cards are the safest method, providing free basic insurance £2250 per person for all purchases between £100 and £30,000. Once you have selected a tradesman, it is important to ask for a written contract. This should be jargon-free and spell out what he Ramblers worldwide House prices holidays will do and when. It should also give a fixed price. The Federation For the latest news and in- Over 200 totally amazing of Master Builders (FMB) offers free templates at worldwide guided walking depth analysis Findabuilder.co.uk. If a job is expensive - £10,000-plus, say - it holidays may be worth asking a solicitor to check the document. Small groups, singles welcome After the work has started, it is important to monitor progress - looking over small jobs immediately after completion and checking THE GUIDES bigger projects daily, if possible. Funway Holidays Int Inc Mr Playle also suggests hiring a surveyor to make occasional Toronto City Breaks checks on big projects. He can advise on a builder's claims that from £539 per person! unforeseen extra work is necessary. Such incidental costs are a hazard of maintenance work, too, but should not affect small jobs Improve your credit where the tradesman could be expected to assess the situation in How to get a better score from Travel insurance advance. “The price you are quoted should be the price you pay,” the reference agencies Great travel insurance he says. deals online CREDIT Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 a tradesman must act with “reasonable care and skill”, in a “reasonable time” and at a “reasonable cost ”. If the terms of your contract are broken Search for more or the tradesman fails to meet the Act's requirements, it is crucial holidays to move fast. Credit Clinic Mr Playle says: “Give him seven days to fix it, then phone Worried about credit card Consumer Direct [on 0845 4040506]. An adviser will go through fraud? Visit the Credit Clinic Search Ad Reference: your options and, as a last resort, explain the civil court process.” for advice When a tradesman causes an emergency problem - a leak, for example - there is no need to give him a week to fix it. “Call in anyone and ask the original tradesman to reimburse you,” Mr Playle says. “If he won't, call Consumer Direct.” If the tradesman is a member of an assured trader scheme or trade body, remember to contact this, too, as it may have procedures to help. If you are advised to go to court, claims up to £5,000 are handled on the “small claims track”. These can be registered at Moneyclaim.gov.uk and handled without a solicitor. Most claimants must pay a fee of up to £120, which should be refunded if you win. Successful claimants are also awarded the money to make things right, plus limited compensation in some cases. However, there is a small risk that you will not be paid if the other party is bankrupt or “unable to pay”. Consumer Direct redirects the most serious complaints to trading standards, which will investigate and may prosecute on your behalf. Mr Shepherd says: “Trading standards also monitors our records to spot patterns of bad behaviour. That is why it is worth reporting all bad practice, even if you do not intend to take legal action.” A helping hand at your fingertips A number of websites can help consumers to find local tradesmen, but the usual homework - comparing quotes, checking references and so on - still applies. Anyone can send their requirements to Quotatis.co.uk, for example, to receive up to five free quotes from the site's “vetted” tradesmen. But note in the small print: “Although the Quotatis UK database has been compiled in good faith, all data appearing thereon has been provided by third parties and the contractors themselves and Quotatis UK can accept no liability for the inaccuracy of any such data”. Further, users cannot tell before completing a request form whether it lists traders in their area. An alternative, RatedPeople.com, which makes no claims to “vet” listed tradesmen, provides up to three quotes after the initial request. To help others, users are asked to rate any contractors they take on. Listings sites, such as Gumtree.com, are more likely to produce numerous matches in your area. Again, be aware that advertisers are not vetted. The Federation of Master Builders' website, at Findabuilder.co.uk, lists its members and is packed with advice on finding a reliable operator. It has links to useful sites such as PlanningPortal.gov.uk, which explains building regulations - something to look into before commissioning building work. Case Study: Once bitten, twice shy Georgie Upton, of West London, was stung last year when she and her husband failed to take basic precautions before hiring a local builder to fit a new kitchen. “Someone told us he was good, but we didn't check references. Our big mistake was to not ask for a written contract. We ended up paying about £500 more than the verbal quote because of extras he had not warned us about. Also, the job dragged on for three months.” When the 31-year-old marketing manager wanted a plumber to connect a new bathroom suite this year, she took no chances. She obtained five quotes - one from a plumber recommended by friends, one from a local plumbing shop and three from advertisements on Gumtree.com. “I checked references, got a written contract and paid £200 for a good, quick job,” she says.
Pages to are hidden for
"How to find a good tradesman"Please download to view full document