Traditional Craftspeople - what you need to know
Traditional craftspeople, or artisans as they’re often called, have a variety of skills, many of which are now performed by machines. Creative at their heart, the work they do is broad, ranging from handcrafting ornaments for the house, to designing and building bespoke furniture. If you want something that’s truly unique, they can help bring that vision to life.
What a traditional craftsperson can help with
- Designing and building bespoke furniture.
- Handcrafting household ornaments.
- Decorative cornicing/plasterwork.
- Decorative glazing.
- Decorative ironmongery and metalwork, e.g. creating ornamental gates.
- Working on fireplace features.
- Creating murals.
- Restoring period properties, e.g. by cleaning stone.
- Creating and restoring stonework/ stone cladding.
- Repairing and fitting thatched roofs.
- Installing wooden doors inside a home.
- Building a wooden shutter for a window.
Different craftspeople will have skills in different areas so a tradesperson who specialises in creating murals may not also have the skills to carry out stone cladding work.
It’s therefore important that when advertising the job, you’re as clear as possible with the details of the work you’d like done. Also, to reiterate this when you speak to the tradesperson, in order to get the right craftspeople quoting for the work.
Many craftspeople deal with a lot of period property work. Often that can be to clean stone on an old building and carry out essential repairs but it can also be to reproduce period features in a modern home. Sometimes, older houses are stripped of their authentic period features and it’s not uncommon for new owners to want to recreate some of their original charm. They can do this by working on decorative gates and fireplace features to make sure they’re appropriate in style.
A traditional craftsperson is particularly skilled at working with metals and wood, so they can take on a lot of carpentry jobs, such as building you custom cabinets to give you more storage and introducing wooden doors into your home. Some craftspeople will also work with thatched roofs. Although the roofs tend to last 50 years, they can get damaged over time by wildlife or high winds. If this happens, they’ll need expert care by a tradesperson (either as a specialist craftsperson or roofer), who has the skills to restore them.
The qualifications your traditional craftsperson needs
There are no specific qualifications needed. Most traditional craftspeople learn on the job by becoming apprentices.
Planning permission for craftsperson jobs
Whether or not you need planning permission depends on the work you’re having done. You may need planning permission for work on a listed building, e.g. a thatched roof. If you’re erecting or adding to an ornamental fence, wall or gate, you’ll need planning permission if:
- It would be over 1 metre high and next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of the highway); or over 2 metres high somewhere else.
- There’s an article 4 direction or planning condition that takes away your right to put up or alter a fence, wall or gate.
- Your house is a listed building or in the land immediately surrounding a listed building.
- The fence, wall or gate, or any other relevant boundary, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or the land surrounding it.
Building regulations for craftsperson jobs
You don’t need building regulations approval for fences, walls and gates. If you’re working on a garden wall which is classed as a 'party fence wall' and it’s not a wooden fence, you may need to notify your neighbour of the work under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
You may also need building regulations approval for work on listed buildings, including thatched roofs. For building regulations relating to other jobs that a craftsperson may carry out, visit the Planning Portal https://www.planningportal.co.uk/.
Insurance for craftsperson work
There’s no legal requirement for craftspeople to have insurance but it’s a good idea for them to buy public liability insurance to cover themselves against any property damage and personal injury claims.
Questions you should ask a traditional craftsperson
- Do they have public liability insurance and what does this cover?
- How long have they been trading?
- Will it be themselves that carries out the work? If not, what experience does the person have and are they covered by insurance?
- Can they show you examples of their work and have they worked on projects similar to yours?
- Will they give a guarantee for the work and how long does that last?
See the latest questions that homeowners have been asking traditional craftspeople.
Learn more about the different trades that fall under traditional craftsmanship and get some tips on creating a period perfect home. You can also find some ideas for custom builds, such as a built-in wardrobe or a breakfast bench to maximise space in a kitchen diner.