Unless you are incredibly lucky and multi-talented, as a landlord you will need trustworthy tradesmen at some point. Whether this is for the plumbing, drainage, heating, roofing or just a general handyman, knowing the right people to turn to when something goes wrong is important. So composing a list of plumbers, heating engineers and electricians is a crucial step to being a successful landlord.
Getting the Right People
Of course a list of names and telephone numbers is one thing but how do you know someone is trustworthy and reliable? There are a number of ways to do some detective work on potential workmen that can enable you to make a confident decision about who to employ.
Word of mouth in this internet age still has a place. Ask friends and family for recommendations about the people they have used for their own homes – and for people with whom they have had a bad experience. If you know other landlords, ask them who they use for their work if they are in the same area as you.
Next, do some research on the internet. There are loads of comparison type websites now where tradesmen can advertise their services and you can contact them via email or the phone. Many of these sites also allow customers to leave reviews and ratings, giving you a feel for their experience. Trading Standards website also has a postcode search facility that lets you find tradesmen in your area while the Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network is another similar option.
Another scheme designed to root out the bad apples and ensure good quality tradesmen is the TrustMark. This is a government back not-for-profit scheme where you can go to the website, put in your area and what work is needed and their database gives you suggestions. These people will have had their skills independently checked as well as their work inspected, will have signed up to a code of practise and will have the right insurance and safety practises in place.
WaterSafe is a similar version that has been established for plumbers and has the backing of all the major water companies including the Trading Standards Institute and Gas Safe. Work done by a WaterSafe plumber comes with a Work Completed Certificate that ensures their work is to the required standard.
Talking to Tradesmen
By using these services, you greatly increase the chance you get a trustworthy tradesman but it never hurts to talk to them and ask a few key questions. Talk to them about the insurance they have, for example, as even the best tradesman can suffer an accident. Look at the qualifications they have or examples of their previous work, especially on large projects such as kitchen refitting or bathroom renovation.
Finally, all quotes that you get, ensure they are in writing and detail how long they are valid for. Only pay for work that has been done unless the tradesman requests payment for parts beforehand which some may do. Never pay the bill in full before the work is done.