Having now carried out 3 big building renovations (just call me Nick Knowles) over the past 5.5 years, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about finding the right tradespeople for the job, having had a real mix of both good and bad experiences.
When we moved into our last house, and had the first lot of work carried out (a kitchen and bathroom renovation, both of which involved knocking down walls), we had a bad experience with our builders, who were friends of a friend but who hadn’t come with a direct recommendation for any of the work they carried out. The finished rooms were actually done to a high standard, but they often didn’t turn up when they said they would, and would get aggressive when challenged. As a result, a 5 week job took 3 months, and meant we weren’t actually back in our house for when Sasha was born, something I was so upset about at the time. Despite the work being decent, we would never recommend them to anybody we know.
Our second lot of work was our loft conversion, and thankfully, we had a brilliant experience. The company was a dedicated loft conversion company who had been used by a friend of ours and she had been happy with them. I went around to see her loft before we signed up, and I was also pleased at the detail in which they complied our quote, plus came up with various suggestions for the loft design. The company used individual tradesmen who they had had a relationship with for at least several years, and everyone who worked on bits of our house, from the tiling to the skirting board, was lovely and friendly. I actually missed them when they had finished the job!
Our third big build was in our current home earlier this year- a large kitchen renovation that encountered some difficulties with regards to our flooring, so not an easy job by any means. Having had a bad experience with the first lot of builders we used, I was determined to make the right choice this time around, and asked the mums at school for their recommendations (we seem to live in area where people are constantly updating and extending as it’s so expensive to move!). After having 3 different builders round for a chat and a quote, I settled on the husband of one of my school mum friends, and got endorsements from people who he’d carried out work for (and got to view some of the work too). Him and his team were absolutely brilliant, and despite the flooring issues that were a pain for them to fix (the floor was sloping and made of tricky, composite material), we were left with a kitchen that we were over the moon with.
So just how to you go about finding the right tradesman (or woman!) for the job? Here are some tips to find your perfect match:
- Use a website such as ‘Check a Trade’ (or an equivalent), as often the person or company featured will have some reviews from happy (or not so happy!) customers. A good place to start.
- Social media recommendations. Where I live there is a Facebook group for local mums (all 5000 of them!), and people frequently ask for the names of the best tradespeople locally, from mums who have actually had work done for them by these people (and not just recommending someone’s Dad/brother/boyfriend). Pictures of the handiwork are often posted, and when the same names keep popping up in a positive light, then they’re definitely worth checking out!
- Using approved trader schemes. TrustMark is a government-backed ‘not-for-profit’ scheme supported by trade bodies, local trading standards and consumer groups. If a tradesperson/company has the logo, it means that technical skills, quality of work and financial status have all been checked. They will also have signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, health and safety and good customer service.
Do you have any tips for finding the right match when it comes to the people working on your house renovation?
I’d love to hear!