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By Matt@
#1208076
as per title! as in for work in your own home ie plumbing, heating, electrics, building, carpentry etc etc

how do you guys find it engaging trades?

I find it a nightmare, that said I have had no major horror stories but OMG its such hard work getting the right ones in and making sure it goes right.

I don't want the cheapest, dont like paying cash, happy to pay the VAT, am nice to them, am not demanding, pay on the dot, BUT I do want it done properly, not to be taken advantage of and good communication would be nice but I've given up on that one!

The people I find I work best with are bigger companies that have loads of blokes. The worst are the one man band with the van.

I'm a trade myself so I know what turns these guys off, yet still I struggle and have to bite my lip most of the time.

How is it for you :D
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By MattRoberts
#1208077
I come at it from a similar but different angle: I've not really engaged with any trades people yet but will need to in the near future, and I'm worried that I'll struggle to find the quality that I would now expect.

Before getting into DIY / woodworking, I didn't really understand the difference between quality work and 'get the job done'. Since then I've developed an appreciation for trades people that do high quality work. The trouble is, I have no idea how you find them. Do you get a tiler in for a quote and then start grilling them about ensuring that all the tiles are flush with no lipping, and that there is the right amount of waterproof membrane overlap behind the tiles in a shower enclosure etc?!

I'm guessing not, as I'm definitely no expert, so there would be a thousand things I don't know to ask, plus of course I'd come across as a complete nightmare client...
By Keith 66
#1208079
Im the opposite, i dont like big companies as you are liable to have just as many problems & will pay far more.
I built a big extension & did a lot of it with a small builder & employed various trades as required, turned out far cheaper & me working on it as well kept them on their toes & kept the quality right.
Paying pound notes dont half keep the price down too.
By Matt@
#1208082
MattRoberts wrote:I come at it from a similar but different angle: I've not really engaged with any trades people yet but will need to in the near future, and I'm worried that I'll struggle to find the quality that I would now expect.

Before getting into DIY / woodworking, I didn't really understand the difference between quality work and 'get the job done'. Since then I've developed an appreciation for trades people that do high quality work. The trouble is, I have no idea how you find them. Do you get a tiler in for a quote and then start grilling them about ensuring that all the tiles are flush with no lipping, and that there is the right amount of waterproof membrane overlap behind the tiles in a shower enclosure etc?!

I'm guessing not, as I'm definitely no expert, so there would be a thousand things I don't know to ask, plus of course I'd come across as a complete nightmare client...


I do think you kind of get a nose for whats right or not, based on previous experiences so coming new into getting people must be an utter nightmare! Heres an interesting example of what we had done 3 yrs ago. We bought a 100yr old rental property. On purchase we had to have the lead lined parapet gutter repaired as rainwater was feeding back into the walls. hmmm where to start then :) so I got 3 separate roofers to have a look and their prices ranged from about £700 to £2000 to do this job. In the end I went with the £2000 and got property vendor prior to purchase to split cost 50/50 but it was still a £2K job. The firm we had, specialised in lead work on churches, stately homes etc. It was obviously worth their while doing this and we got a mint job. I can almost guarantee that had we gone with any of the random roofers/ leadworkers we would have paid less money but likely would have issues in the future and roof work is not something I can do.

BUT paying more does NOT guarantee a good job as lots of firms out there like the "get what you pay for" "pay cheap pay twice' brigade play on peoples fears and dont do any more of a good job than a cheap quote.

Unambiguous recommendation has to be the way to go but not recommends from friends IMO
By rafezetter
#1208087
MattRoberts wrote:I come at it from a similar but different angle: I've not really engaged with any trades people yet but will need to in the near future, and I'm worried that I'll struggle to find the quality that I would now expect.

Before getting into DIY / woodworking, I didn't really understand the difference between quality work and 'get the job done'. Since then I've developed an appreciation for trades people that do high quality work. The trouble is, I have no idea how you find them. Do you get a tiler in for a quote and then start grilling them about ensuring that all the tiles are flush with no lipping, and that there is the right amount of waterproof membrane overlap behind the tiles in a shower enclosure etc?!

I'm guessing not, as I'm definitely no expert, so there would be a thousand things I don't know to ask, plus of course I'd come across as a complete nightmare client...


As a person relatively new to selling my services for this sort of thing I would absolutely expect to be grilled in some form or other - it's thier money and they have the right.

With so many horror stories of tradespeople of the "bodgit and scarper" variety, any decent person who stands by thier quality of work shouldn't have an issue with the customer asking for references, and now with digital devices making it easy, reference photos of your work.

If they are proud of thier work you won't even have to ask, they will understand you need reassurance, and provide all the necessary without being asked, including details of thier insurances. To them it might be "just another tiling job", but to you, it's money, hassle, and not least you'll be the one looking at it on a daily basis.

The flipside of course is to make sure you as the customer do your part as well, deposit up front for any materials outlay (and don't be shy about asking to see the receipts), pay promptly and understand any changes to the work will have to be paid for on top.

Of course I'm new to the game and things might seem different over time, but I don't see why they should - I learned something from a very successful contractor that had a simple mantra "do the work as if it was your own house, and your mother in law was watching".

One of the reasons so many of the, frankly crooked, tradespeople are around is because customers don't grill them ENOUGH, and put up with BS. I know tradespeople get this too, but as long as the details are in writing, and it's clear any additionals are charged extra - everyone knows where they stand and it should be simple.

he says naively.....

Edit: I guess the other thing is to find out what thier stock in trade is - I've shared a house with a builder for 13 years - I'd be more than happy for him to build me the house, and lay out a driveway, but I would never ask him to do any more than give the walls a basecoat of paint. I think the "Oh I can do everything, me" tradesman is obviously the kind to cut corners and have the "that'll do" attitude and my housemate is no exception, I've worked with him a few times and the level of what he calls "finished" has made me cringe - but he still gets paid, so who's fault is that?
Last edited by rafezetter on 14 Feb 2018, 05:38, edited 1 time in total.
By julianf
#1208088
Last time I had someone round was when some slates moved on the roof after a storm.

£40 quote was cheaper than a roof ladder. He did three separate areas.
I mentioned that both my neighbours also had issues, so he did both of their houses too. Then charged us each £20, instead of the original £40.

We would have all been happy to pay £40 each, I'm sure!

One man band with sign written van. Easy to communicate with. No issues.
By sunnybob
#1208092
a sign of a good tradesman is that he cant get to you for three weeks.
if he can come round in a half hour.....pass.
User avatar
By Lons
#1208108
sunnybob wrote:a sign of a good tradesman is that he cant get to you for three weeks.
if he can come round in a half hour.....pass.


Not always true as gaps in schedules due to unexpected events, especially the weather in the UK can and does happen however it is a good indicator.

In the 20 years I was in business as a small builder I always had a waiting list, sometimes a very long one and customers made the choice to wait or go elsewhere, most waited. I was never the cheapest and didn't try to be, what I did was price work realistically and fairly, would never rip anyone off or overprice a job because I didn't want it, better to say no in the first place!
What I did do was ensure that all my costs were covered, I made a profit, and estimates were detailed in writing. Anyone who doesn't do that might find themselves losing money and will cut corners imo.

BTW it was suggested that materials receipts should be asked for, if anyone had asked me that they would have been told to go elsewhere as I would see that as an immediate lack of trust which works both ways so either accept the price or not. A tradesman after all has to trust his customer to play fair as well and many of them don't.

I built up an excellent reputation and was probably more of a perfectionist than was good for my pocket but it meant I never advertised, apart from a signwritten van and all my work was via personal recommendation.
This ensured that my customers got the value for money they wanted and I got paid, promptly. The two occasions when payment was slow resulted in me refusing later work for those people and I told them the reasons.

It worked for me and 2 years after retiring I'm still being begged by previous customers to work for them. I'm too busy enjoying the rest of my life to do that. Don't know how I ever found time to work.

cheers
Bob
By Matt@
#1208115
Rafazetter I think you have newcomers enthusiasm :wink:

I think for many long established trades it works like this - with every enquiry they are looking at....

1. profitablity of the job in question
2. hassle factor of the job (job and customer)

so to start with if a firm is really busy they likely dont want the work unless its profitable. If its not that profitable, they'll still consider it but will look at the hassle factor. What they dont want is a job that doesnt make good money that has hassle as at that point you are likely to be palmed off.

So what is hassle factor for a busy firm? well, I would say a customer that doesnt trust them to do a good job and is too questioning. I think thats the reality for alot of busy firms who can take or leave the work. And if they are that busy it means they are good.

So the best combo is someone new with bags of enthusiasm and eager to please not some jaundiced individual who picks and chooses.

edit
The above applies alot less to bigger firms as theres no personal agendas and sometimes these firms have so many people on the road that they need all the work they can get
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By Brandlin
#1208116
Keith 66 wrote:Im the opposite, i dont like big companies as you are liable to have just as many problems & will pay far more.
I built a big extension & did a lot of it with a small builder & employed various trades as required, turned out far cheaper & me working on it as well kept them on their toes & kept the quality right.
Paying pound notes dont half keep the price down too.


So, you had to be there and work on the job to keep your cheaper small builders up to scratch then?
And you advocate the paying of cash ... presumably to illegally avoid VAT?
By Doug71
#1208120
I have been a self employed joiner for years and could write an essay on this!

It must be a nightmare having to look in the Yellow pages to find a plumber, electrician etc. I know some good ones but they are generally too busy with their good regular customers to take on new ones unless it is an interesting job.

I know some good big firms but they do know how to charge, the smaller ones are often better value.

I don't do cash discounts and would avoid anybody who does.

I would generally not be happy showing people receipts for materials, I add a bit on to most things, that is just how it works.

If a tradesman doesn't get back to you with a quote its because he didn't want the job, it would be better if they told you at the time but unfortunately they rarely do.

All I can suggest is go on recommendations, it works both ways, if someone has got my number from one of my good customers chances are they will turn out to be a good customer also.

Doug
By Jacob
#1208133
julianf wrote:Last time I had someone round was when some slates moved on the roof after a storm.

£40 quote was cheaper than a roof ladder. He did three separate areas.
I mentioned that both my neighbours also had issues, so he did both of their houses too. Then charged us each £20, instead of the original £40.

We would have all been happy to pay £40 each, I'm sure!

One man band with sign written van. Easy to communicate with. No issues.
He was ridiculously cheap and probably won't be at it for long.
User avatar
By Lons
#1208163
Jacob wrote:
julianf wrote:Last time I had someone round was when some slates moved on the roof after a storm.

£40 quote was cheaper than a roof ladder. He did three separate areas.
I mentioned that both my neighbours also had issues, so he did both of their houses too. Then charged us each £20, instead of the original £40.

We would have all been happy to pay £40 each, I'm sure!

One man band with sign written van. Easy to communicate with. No issues.
He was ridiculously cheap and probably won't be at it for long.

What Jacob said !

I would throw the question back at you Julian. Would you go up a ladder and work on a roof with the potential of risk injury or death for £20 or £40? - I doubt it. - I certainly would not!