Published on January 18th, 2013 | by Tom Wake2
How to find recommended local builders and tradesmen at the best price
Let’s face it, trying to find a trustworthy, reliable and competent builder or tradesman at a fair price can be seriously stressful.
It’s not that they aren’t out there – they ARE – the problem is most us will have at sometime or other had a bad experience with a rogue tradesman.
These bad experiences can leave a nasty scar because it usually involves someone coming into your house, your private space, and so often emotions are involved.
“Do they really know what they’re doing? Will they do it on time and on budget… is it safe to leave them in the house?”
Right or wrong those are the typical fears that run through our heads. You want to be absolutely sure that you get the best person for the job and rightly so!
But how can you be sure?
How to quickly and easily locate recommended builders, repairmen and tradespeople online
I want to say upfront that you cannot beat a genuine recommendation from a friend or relative if you’ve seen the work for yourself. The thing is, different jobs call for different skills and not all of us “know a bloke” (or a lady!) that we can trust to get the job done and at the right price.
Online review services have already transformed the way we shop in other areas of our life. Take CDs and DVDs – instead of having to rely on casual recommendations from one or two people by word of mouth we can now go online and look at tens, hundreds sometimes even thousands of reviews about a release.
What if you could do that for builders and other tradespeople? Well now you can.
Here are the Insider’s Edge top 3 builder/repairman/tradesman finding tools to help save you stress, time and money:
1. Rated People – http://www.ratedpeople.com
This one has to come top simply because it’s by far the most popular builder job posting website in the UK. It has at the time of writing well over 1.6 million jobs posted and 276,000 ratings so it’s easy to get replies to your job posting – and to check out their credibility. Location, Location, Location’s Phil Spencer’s reassuring orb proudly endorses the proceedings…
Pros: Free to post a job (if you’re buying), massive database of tradespeople
Cons: Expensive for tradesmen to use the site. They have to “buy leads” on jobs they want to offer quotes on. If the customer goes with another quote the losing applicant is left out of pocket – this ‘risk factor’ inevitably drives up costs.
2. My Builder – http://www.mybuilder.com/
My Builder comes through as a close second and runs in much the same way as ‘Rated People’ albeit with a slightly smaller user base. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and of course who’s available will depend on who’s signed up where you live.
Pros: Free to post a job, easy to navigate website
Cons: They used to charge their tradespeople a quarterly fee but then went down the same route as ‘Rated People’ and changed it to the cost-per-lead model. Again I think this makes it tough on the builders and no doubt bumps up costs for the consumer. It also means that some builders may continue pitch more jobs to you after quoting (as they will retain your details).
3. My Workman – http://www.myworkman.co.uk/
I would have put this top of the list but for their size (which may well improve with time). The ratings are clear and the business model is sound with tradespeople paying a quarterly fee (rather than per lead) which I think is a far more honest way of doing things.
Pros: Free to post a job, easy to navigate – flat fee for tradespeople to appear on the site which means they are far less likely to pester you for work following quotes.
Cons: Depending on where you live there may be fewer tradespeople on offer.
A quick breakdown of the rest…
In no particular order:
4. My Hammer – https://www.myhammer.co.uk
My Hammer operates a hybrid model where tradespeople will pay a membership fee and a percentage of the job fee. While many members have used the site without issue I have come across some very negative reviews and even some allegations that some of the tradesmen on here are operating without insurance. You may find a world beating deal on here but be careful – some users have been burnt in the past.
5. Service Magic – http://www.servicemagic.co.uk/
If only they lived up to their name! Again worth a look but be streetwise. Unfortunately this outfit has garnered a lot of bad press from both builders and clients particularly for the way they handle and process leads.
6. Check a Trade – http://www.checkatrade.com
These guys appear to have reputedly had issues vetting their trader credentials in the past. They’ve also been criticised for not displaying some of the negative reviews users have left.
7. Trust a Trader – http://www.trustatrader.com/
As above there have been some complaints about trader credentials as well as some concerns expressed over user reviews – some users claim that while positive reviews appear on the site almost instantly, negative ones are often left out.
8. Find a Good One – http://www.findagoodone.com/
It’s quite a hokey little site but I found a number of tradesmen available when doing dummy searches. The approach here is slightly different – rather than posting jobs you search for skills via your postcode – so for example you might search for a plumber for a domestic job in your area. Reviews are star rated and would benefit from additional text (rather than just ratings).
9. Problem Solved – http://www.problemsolved.co.uk/
It’s a shame because I actually really like the layout, design and search functionality on Problem Solved and it even comes *drum roll* endorsed by the Telegraph. Unfortunately I fear they may have failed to capture enough of the market – either that or they’re living in the past – the footer on their website still displays 2007!
10. Recommended Trades Men – http://www.recommendedtradesmen.co.uk/
Very old fashioned website that could do with a bit of sprucing up. Again this one works on the basis that you choose your required skill and then tap in your postcode. Unfortunately when I tested it I struggled to find any electricians or repairmen in my east London postcode which didn’t bode well – others may have more success!
11. Trades Man 4 U – http://www.tradesman4u.com/
This website takes the job posting approach that the bigger sites favour. Tradesmen don’t have to pay membership fees but are charged for leads. There didn’t appear to be a very thorough vetting process on the site for new tradesmen signups.
12. Find a Trade – http://www.findatrade.com/
Not the most appealing of websites but the ethos seems sound as they claim to “make multiple checks on all trade joiners”. One that could be worth looking at provided that you follow the golden rules.
3 golden rules to follow before you pick a builder or sign ANY contract
While extremely useful, of course none of these sites are infallible. I’ve drawn up a set of simple rules that you should follow when selecting and employing any tradesperson.
1. Reviews are a great guide but when browsing comments and star ratings bear in mind that they can be falsified
Just because someone has a handful of excellent ratings and reviews online, it doesn’t guarantee that they’re credible. Remember someone could easily get friends to accept a bunch of fake jobs and then write themselves glowing reviews. Yes, they would have to pay the website in question the ‘lead fee’ or commission (depending on the website) but they could put this down to ‘advertising costs’. This kind of thing does happen although it should be harder, or certainly more expensive, to falsify reviews for big budget jobs.
2. Don’t take their word for it! Check their previous work and drop by in person to see it if you can. At the very least phone previous clients
This is a big thing – you’re letting someone into your house so you want to make sure they’re not going to make a pig’s ear of it or leave you in the lurch. Treat it like a proper job interview – check their references and do some research and a background check. Just 30 minutes spent verifying their references could save you weeks or months of heartache.
3. Check that they’re insured, verify their qualifications and read through the contract thoroughly
If you’re getting someone in to install a new boiler or fix the central heating make sure they’re ‘Gas Safe Registered’ (this used to be ‘Corgi’). Get their ID number, go to this website and check! Plumbers should have a C&G (or City & Guilds) certificate and electricians will ideally be ‘Part P’ registered.
Top Tip: There’s a handy website where you can check to see if your tradesmen is qualified for gas, heating, electrics, plumbing, roofing and more. Not every qualified tradesman will be registered on here but it’s a great place to start. It’s called Competent Person.
Right that’s it! I hope you found this article useful.
If you’d like to add anything or if you’ve had experience using any of these websites (good or bad) please do leave a comment below.