How to get the best from your tradesman

Tradesmen and homeowners alike want the very best of each other, yet sometimes complications occur. Andrew Skipwith, the founder and CEO of RatedPeople.com knows all about complications. When Andrew renovated his house, his builder walked out on him half-way, leaving the unfinished home as a building site. To avoid disasters like this in the future Andrew founded RatedPeople.com and the rest is history. Here he tells us how to get the best from your tradesman.

I hear plenty of stories from homeowners, but what’s fascinating is hearing the tradesman’s side of the story. I thought I’d share a favourite of mine…

 A Decorator from Cardiff:

“I had this customer once called Jane. She took seven months to make up her mind – she wanted the hall painted, then wall-papered, then wallpapered something more expensive, then painted again. Eventually we agreed and I got started. Half way through she asked me whether I liked the colour. Is it my house? Am I an interior designer? No! We agreed to wait so she could have another think. I ended up wallpapering the lot”.

How to get the best from your Tradesman

1. Be clear about what you want.

Don’t be like Jane – have a good think through options. Talk to some friends. Talk to your partner even! Get yourself clear before you speak to a tradesman – it’s your home not theirs.

–    What is it that you want? Why?

–    What’s your maximum budget?

–    When do you want the project to finish?

2. Speak to a few different tradesmen.

Ignore anyone that ‘happens to be in the area’ and bin all flyers. Seek out personal recommendations. Even better give RatedPeople.com a go!

Does your tradesman:

–    Have the right skills and qualifications?

–    Have a proven track record or references?

–    Understand what you want?

 3. Agree your plans in writing:

This is really important, but it’s amazing how few of us make time to do this. It feels like a formality but saves all sorts of issues down the line.

–    What’s included / not included

–    Key project phases and timing

–    Full price and payment schedule

–    Working hours and contact details

 4. Manage the project:

It’s your project and don’t be afraid to manage your workman. They will always appreciate your input earlier rather than later. It’s up to both of you to ensure you get what you want.

–    Keep talking!

–    Ask questions but choose your moment

–    Pay what’s due when it’s due

 5. Finish on a good note:

You never know when you’ll need to ask them back. On major work there are always little snags that need tidying up a few months down the line. And a good tradesman always knows more good tradesmen.

–    Clear up loose ends

–    Stay in touch and recommend them!

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