How to choose a reputable company or person to carry out maintenance work

publication date: Jun 17, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Choosing a trustworthy tradesperson is vital for good home maintenance

When tackling work on home maintenance, it can be dangerous to take DIY too far just to save some cash. Fortunately, not many home-owners would consider installing a new boiler or a gas fire themselves, so even little jobs with gas, electrics or glazing should be done by hiring a competent, registered tradesperson to do the work correctly, safely and legally.

What Building Regulation sign off do you need?
One of the first things to check isn’t if you like the chap doing the work, it’s if the work requires LABC (Local Authority Building Control) sign off or not. If you have some saying it does and some saying it doesn’t, check with your local LABC as they will clarify the rules and that helps you avoid taking someone on that has already lied to you or been incompetent about knowing the rules.

Where electrical work is involved, you’re legally obliged to notify your LABC about certain types of electrical work around your home under Part P, the section of the Building Regulations covering electrical domestic work.

You will also need LABC sign off for some glazing work (such as fitting windows) and gas work. Only certain people are allowed to apply for this work, so make sure they have the right credentials in the first place

How do I know the tradespeople are trustworthy?
So, how do you find a trustworthy and competent tradesperson that’s right for the job

Check they are government approved
Always search for a company that’s registered with a Government-approved Competent Person Scheme (CPS) Provider for Building Regulations in England and Wales. These organisations ensure that their members meet strict qualification requirements, and are regularly assessed to ensure their continuing competence. Look for accreditations such as:

Do check the credentials of tradespeople you hire. It’s easy to do: just ask to see their ID badge and search for their company on the website of the organisation they claim to be registered under. They may have ID badges and van stickers too.

Got more than one job that needs doing?
Find one company that can do it all. You may be able to negotiate discounts, and it’s also easier to manage a big project with a single company rather than juggling several contractors.

A good example of a company that does this – and has all the credentials is aspect. Have look at our 'Maintaining a property' checklist provided by aspect.

Get several quotes or phone around for price
Of course price is important, but it’s not everything. If a company boasts that they’re the cheapest around, this may also be reflected in the quality of their service.

Worst still it could mean they are acting illegally and not paying tax through VAT or income tax. If you pay they cash for the work, avoid paying VAT, then try to complain when you have no invoices, it’s a pretty tough thing to do successfully.

  • Ask about independent reviews and evidence of past work, either in photos or testimonials. It’ll help you get an accurate picture of the company’s quality of service and professionalism.
  • What experience does the company or tradesperson have? The best will have qualifications, together with years of experience, and so will be well-equipped to tackle potentially complicated jobs creatively. Experienced tradespeople will probably work faster and, if you’re paying by the hour, save you money.
  • Still not sure? Then get a second opinion from someone qualified to judge – not your mate who once replaced a fuse or painted a doorframe.
  • Check out the guarantee that comes with the work. Most reputable companies offer a guarantee period, and will return free of charge if they are responsible for any fault that develops. Ideally make sure the guarantee is still enforceable should the company/contractor go out of business.

Perhaps you’re just looking to change a few sockets, or plan bigger projects, such as having solar panels installed to reduce heating bills. Whatever the work you want done, look for a competent and registered tradesperson to do the job to the required standards, and so keep yourself, your family and your home safe.

Have a look at some more of our FREE maintenance checklists, like 'Maintaining a property' from Aspect, such as:-

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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