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Need a plumber, electrician, or roofer? Find a trader who’s up to the mark

Finding the right tradespeople can be a real challenge. The most common complaints are around poor quality of work and a general lack of professionalism resulting in electrical problems and structural issues.

According to Ombudsman Services, a not-for-profit, privately run company, the “rogue trader” issue is exacerbated by the fact that six in 10 homeowners fail to check credentials before commissioning work.

Getting a personal recommendation from someone you trust is normally the best way of finding a reliable tradesperson. But if that doesn’t work, where else can you go?

Many local authorities run their own “trusted trading schemes” with lists of plumbers, roofers, electricians and others who have all been strictly vetted by trading standards. You can use the postcode search at the Trading Standards website to find a scheme in your area.Advertisement

Consumer organisation Which? operates Which? Local. Only Which? members can post reviews which are all verified for authenticity. Average price and job completion data are also included. The drawback? You have to join Which? to access the site at £1 for the first month and then £10.75 a month.

You can also use TrustMark to find tradespeople operating to government-endorsed standards. Again, enter your postcode, choose the type of trader and the database is searched within 50 miles.

TrustMark (consumer helpline 01344 630 804) is a not-for-profit organisation, licensed by government and supported by consumer protection groups. All firms carrying the TrustMark logo and featured on the website, are required to have their technical skills independently checked through regular on-site inspections.

But always remember, however you find a trader, always check their credentials. Even TrustMark, which, unlike many commercial directories, takes responsibility for the quality of work, warns: “Always check they are ‘licensed’ for all the trades/work you are asking them to carry out.

“This can be done on its website: search ‘trade’ then ‘company name’ and under ‘more information’ you will see ‘only’ the trades the firm is licensed for by TrustMark.”

Also check qualifications to make sure the person is able to complete your job safely and at a high standard. All those dealing with jobs involving gas, for example, must, by law, be registered with Gas Safe, formerly known as CORGI.

Similarly, “Part P” regulations need to be complied with to carry out most electrical work. Use competentperson.co.uk to find a local electrician registered with a government-approved scheme showing they work to the UK national safety standard (BS 7671) and will give you a safety certificate to confirm this.

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6 Common Plumbing Problems to Avoid a Catastrophe

Small plumbing problems can easily become catastrophes because, in many cases, you don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. If you’re not diligent, a leaky faucet, a troublesome toilet or a clogged drain can lead to bigger, more serious issues.

Here are some of the areas you should keep an eye on now to avoid paying for major repairs down the road.

  1. Hot water heaters

Your first indication that your water heater is on the blink might hit you one morning when you try to take a relaxing, hot shower. Or when you step into a flooded garage or laundry room. Conventional hot water heaters usually last six to 12 years. Unless you have a tankless hot water heater, let professionals check out your situation at least once a year.

  1. Leaky pipes

Leaks are common year-round, not just during the winter. If you notice wet spots on the floor or ceiling, call in an expert right away. Leaky pipes have the potential to cause major damage to your home.

  1. Clogged drains

If you don’t absolutely know what you’re doing, fixing a clogged drain is probably something you should leave to experts.

You can also take a few simple steps to curtail drain problems in the first place.

“To avoid clogged drains, you might want to put a strainer on your kitchen and bathroom drains to prevent hair and other debris from getting into your pipes,” said Butch Bailey, owner of Lamar Plumbing in Corpus Christi.

“It’s also a good idea to avoid pouring grease down your drain. Instead, put it in a jar or can and then in the trash,” Bailey added.

  1. Running toilets

A faulty toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day. In the long run, you’ll save money on your water bill if you call an experienced plumber to fix any number of problems that might be keeping the tank of your toilet from filling up.

  1. Dripping faucets

In many cases, you can fix a dripping faucet by replacing a seal or washer. Or you can call an expert plumber, who will take care of the leak and eliminate the shock and pain of an unusually high water bill.

  1. Faulty hoses

How many times have you dragged your hose out of the garage or shed in early spring, hooked it to faucet and turned it on, only to find that winter temperatures have damaged the hose or the faucet? If you’re lucky, you can solve this problem by buying a new hose. If you’re not, you might need to have a plumber take a look at your outdoor faucet.

While you can address some of your plumbing woes on your own, the money you save might end up going right down the drain if larger issues aren’t identified and repaired. In most cases, your best option is to let an expert handle your plumbing problems.


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Top Tips – When hiring a tradesman

Are you about to hire a tradesman to work in your home or garden?

Whether the job is big or small, there are certain steps we advise you to take. For your own protection, please take a few minutes to read this advice. Following these guidelines could save you time, money and a lot of stress.

When employing a tradesman you are advised

To follow best practice and:

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief – requesting at least three quotes.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations and check the TrustMark Online Directory to ensure the tradesperson is registered for the particular services you require.
  • Use a business that advertises using a landline telephone number and be very wary of those only willing to provide a mobile number.
  • Seek references, speak to previous customers and if possible, visit previous jobs.
  • Don’t just select the cheapest.  Consider how you would communicate with the business representatives, as well as the quality of their work.
  • Only pay for work that has been completed and not in advance, unless using a service like the TrustMark escrow service which releases funds to the tradesperson at key project milestones.
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesperson, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses.
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong and a dispute arises.
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value before the work is completed.

On the 13 June 2014 the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 SI 2013 No. 3134 came into force.

These regulations now apply to contracts concluded on or after 13 June 2014. On this date, the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and the Off Premises (Doorstep) Regulations 2008 were revoked.

Important information

Many of the information provisions are already required by existing legislation and will be familiar to businesses. However some are new, some examples include:

  • Schedule 1 to the regulations lists the information to be provided for on-premises contracts,
  • Schedule 2 to the regulations lists the information to be provided for distance and off-premises contracts
  • Where cancellation rights exist, all distance and off-premises sellers covered by the regulations will need to provide the cancellation form in Schedule 3.

How do I know a tradesman is trustworthy?

If a business is TrustMark registered, it is working to a Code of Conduct set down by an approved Scheme Provider.  This stipulates the standards they are required to work to, the legislation they must adhere to and the levels of customer service and trading practices that TrustMark demands.

What standards of workmanship can I expect?

TrustMark Registered Businesses are checked and monitored against recognised British, international or industry standards. We ensure you receive a good standard of workmanship and that any complaint will be treated fairly if there is a problem. If you are unhappy with the service you have received from a TrustMark Registered Business, please see further guidance here

How do I know the firm is financially sound?

A Registered Businesses’ trading record and financial position is checked when they first join TrustMark, however such checks cannot guarantee a business will not hit financial difficulties.  For this reason, we insist all Registered Businesses provide a warranty that provides increased protection if the firm goes out of business.  

Who checks up on these tradesmen?

TrustMark’s approved Scheme Providers (which include trade associations, local authorities / Trading Standards, certification inspection schemes and commercial organisations) check the performance of all the businesses that join TrustMark through them.

So who checks up on the approved Scheme Providers?

We do. The TrustMark team monitors approved Scheme Providers on behalf of the TrustMark Board. The Board reviews each approved Scheme Provider’s performance, taking into account an independent assessment of the quality of their work, how they handle complaints, and so on.

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