The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


Choosing the Best Tradesman

It seems these days that everyone has a story about how they have been ripped off by a dodgy tradesman. It can seem as though there are no good trades people left any more. But with careful research, forethought and just a bit of extra time, you can easily find the best person for the job and you will be able to sit back and enjoy watching a good job being well done.

Recommendations - Ask around

The best tradesmen will come with a list as long as their arm of people who are willing to recommend them. If your Mum or your neighbour has had a good painter in, then ask to come and have a look at the work. Ask questions about the cost and how long the job took. Did they turn up on time every day? A recommendation from someone you trust should always come before choosing someone from the yellow pages. But...

Tradesman listings

If you are really stuck and have asked all your friends – then check out on-line listings which give you a list of recommended trades people in your area. Sometimes they are endorsed by an association (Eg the NICEIC for electricians). The yellow pages and local papers are a valuable source of information also, but it can be hit and miss.

Local phone numbers

Look for tradesmen who have local numbers on their ads. If they only have a mobile then you can never be sure where they are based. There is always a chance the could be a fly by night who may disappear when your bath leaks!


Not all tradesmen are experts on computers, but most these days will at least have a rudimentary website which will give you basic information. These can be helpful. The best will have taken the time and made the investment to include photos of their work and will give you a breakdown of likely costs and so on. They should also show any qualifications or certificates they may have.

Get quotes

You should aim to get at least three quotes but don't necessarily go for the cheapest. Make sure you have a written list of the work you require and give it to them so they can prepare detailed quotes. It is no good telling one plumber you want a shower over the bath and the next plumber that you want just a bath. You won't be able to compare.

Ask questions

The tradesman is there to help. He or she should be more than willing to spend a good 30 minutes with you during your quote answering all your questions. The following is a list of good questions to ask:

  • What will be the total cost?
  • Do you require stage payments?
  • What do I need to provide? (e.g. a skip or clearing furniture)
  • What start date can you give me?
  • How long is it likely to take?
  • Will my job be exclusive? (i.e. will he be trying to do two jobs at once)
  • How do you want to be paid? (e.g. cash, cheque or bank transfer)

Make your choice

This can be the hard bit. Don't automatically choose the cheapest. Base your decision on your head and your heart. If you get on with the tradesman and like them that is a good place to start. Make sure their quote is well written, comprehensive and includes everything you asked. Finally, take a deep breath and give them a call.