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Top Ten Questions to Ask A Possible Tradesperson

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 4 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When it comes to finding a tradesman to deal with work you need carried out, it can be a long process where you may find yourself let down by one tradesman and having to seek another. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and find the perfect person for the job immediately, but overall, most people generally have to try a few times before successfully finding that ever elusive reliable tradesman. Ideally what you need to do in order to heighten your chances of success is to prepare a series of questions that you require your prospective tradesman to answer and only when you’ve received satisfactory results should you agree to a contract.

Asking Questions and Expecting Answers

If you have a list of questions ready to ask a tradesman, always ensure that you get the answers you need from them immediately. There’s no point in waiting around for them to get back to you. A good tradesman will know the answers straight away and will be happy to put your mind at ease with his or her responses. Below are a list of questions you should always include before hiring any tradesman

  • 1. How long have you been in business?

Always ask initially how long the tradesman has been in business. If they can provide you with some form of proof also, that is even better as you can see they’re not ‘fly-by-night’ types and this should mean they have an established business and business address.

  • 2. Do they have references for past work?

If you can find a tradesman who is willing to show you examples of their past jobs, this is a good sign. If they have photos of their previous jobs, take the time to look at them. Also, if they have references, ask if you can have a copy, then call these people to ensure they were satisfied with the work.

  • 3. Are they a member of a trade organisation?

Many organisations have a protection scheme that helps to resolve any disputes that may occur and also gives you peace of mind that there’s someone to turn to if things go wrong. Get the name of the organisation or association the tradesman belongs to and then ring them to find out whether they’re a member.

  • 4. Do they have insurance against damage?

It is absolutely crucial that you find out whether your builder has insurance to cover any possible damage against your property. Even if they’ve never had any issues in the past, there may be mistakes made in the future, so check that they are liable should there be any unexpected events whilst the work is being carried out.

  • 5. What is the guarantee on their work?

Make sure that you get a written guarantee of work, or that you see their standard guarantee before signing. If their guarantee is backed by insurance, this is even better as you will have protection should the tradesman’s go out of business. It is very important to look at the guarantees as you don’t want to suddenly realise there’s a problem a few weeks outside of your standard guarantee period.

  • 6. Ask if you can see their license?

Obtaining the details of a tradesman’s license can be one of the more fundamental questions to ask before starting any job. Take note of the license details and ensure they’re up to date and are genuine. You may need them in the future and it’s possible that if something goes wrong the tradesman won’t be willing to give the details by that stage, so get them early on and keep them safe.

  • 7. What do they estimate to be the time frame for the job?

Always get a written estimate of the time frame for your job. If you need work to be completed by a certain date, make sure that the tradesman is aware of that and ask for it to be written down as an estimate if they believe they’re able to make that deadline. Never agree to a contract with no foreseeable completion date.

  • 8. What will be the quote for the job?

Get as many quotes as you can from a variety of different tradesmen, but always ensure that it is a written quote and check how long it is valid for. If there’s anything on the quote you’re not sure about, ask specifically about it and don’t ever feel that there’s a dumb question. Get all the information on how much the work will cost you before agreeing to a contract.

  • 9. When will the work begin?

Many people agree to a contract after being happy at the length of time quoted for completion of the work, but then don’t hear anything from their tradesman for some time. Always find out what the start date will be for your job and make sure that they stick to that. If you can, have it written into the contract that they must have started and completed by a specific time.

  • 10. What are the terms of payment?

Agree with your tradesman the terms of payment before you sign the contract. Some tradesmen will require a deposit upfront, whilst others are happy to carry out the work and receive payment then. Some will bill you for the work, whereas others may require cash or a credit card on completion. Arrange it in a way that suits you best and makes you most comfortable, but again, get this in writing.

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