Real Estate

17 Expert Tips for Hiring a Competent and Reliable Tradesman

To get started, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page and define craftsman with a little help from Wikipedia:

A tradesman is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or trade. Economically and socially, the status of a merchant is considered to be somewhere between a worker and a professional, with a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of his trade.

If you’re looking to hire a plumber, carpenter, builder, electrician, or any type of professional for that matter, the following tips will help you find someone competent and trustworthy.

1. Get referrals

Don’t be afraid to poke around a bit here. Find out from friends who did your stairs/plumbing/whatever. Inspect the work. Ask your friend what the price was. How was the service? Was the merchant professional and courteous? Would you do business with them again?

You can also go directly to a dealer you are thinking of hiring and ask for references. If they can’t refer you to many satisfied customers, that’s a red flag.

If you’ve already worked with good, reliable dealers, ask them to recommend dealers in other industries. They usually know who’s good and who’s bad, stories get passed around, even across industries. Or they may know someone who knows someone.

2. Don’t trust marketing

If you find that a merchant has a website or brochure, take the information there with a grain of salt. Words may have a twist and images may be photoshopped or pulled from another site. Don’t just trust what comes out of the horse’s mouth. They are trying to sell you something after all.

3. Beware of the cheap

The cheapest price is rarely the best price. Consult value and quality. Generally, you get what you pay for. Do you just want some leaky pipes installed in your house or do you want the plumbing done right?

4. Meet them in person

Meet and chat with a merchant before hiring. You don’t have to like them to do good business together, but liking the person helps. At least there should be mutual respect. Also, if you’re worried about getting all kinds of jargon thrown at you, bring someone who knows a bit about the trade.

5. Find out if they outsource

Will they do all the work from start to finish or will they outsource certain tasks? If it’s the latter, you’ll also need to check the references of those third parties, make sure they can be trusted. And don’t just take the word of the main person you’re hiring to vouch for them.

If the person you hire is outsourced, there is less liability. When a problem arises with a third party, you don’t want them to say, “there’s nothing I can do, I’m waiting for them, my part is done.” You want someone to take full responsibility for the job and go find subcontractors on her behalf if something goes wrong. They shouldn’t be able to fool you.

6. Find out where they get their materials from

Make sure they use quality materials and don’t cut corners with cheap stuff that will deteriorate quickly.

7. Get them to chase you

Ask a dealer to price you a job and give them a deadline to contact you with the number. Put the onus on them to prove they can honor an agreement and prove themselves worthy of your business. If you’re going to pay them a lot of money, they should be after you, not the other way around.

Set the tone early on that you won’t be pushovers and won’t tolerate miscommunication or any kind of mischief. If they realize you’re too complicated and you don’t end up doing business with them, know that you’ll probably save yourself a huge headache. It is better to be disappointed early and cheap than late and expensive.

8. Visit their workplace

A visit to a dealer’s workshop or office can reveal a lot. Do they keep the place tidy, do they take pride in that? Is it presentable? Do they have everything in order, everything in its place for easy processing, so nothing gets away?

And if they refuse to let you see their workshop for no good reason, watch out.

9. Make sure the deposit is reasonable

Deposit structures will vary across industries, so find out what the standard is before making any decisions. For stairs, we require payment of 30% of the materials before work begins. We then require 40% payment before the ladder leaves the shop, having the customer view it and check that everything looks good. Then the final 30% payment is due on the day or days of installation.

10. Check its stability

Many of our competitors ask for a 50% deposit up front, but make sure they aren’t in danger of bankruptcy the next day before handing over large sums of money. Make sure they check your references and that they have been in business for a while. Have they had regular customers? The newer the person is in the trade, the more likely they are to quit when the going gets tough.

11. Ask them for proof of insurance and qualifications

They should have all of that, and they are required to show you proof if you ask. Make sure they are qualified to do everything they say they can do, especially if they don’t have references to back up their claims.

12. Check if they are busy

How supported are they? If they have a long waiting list, they are obviously in demand, which is an additional guarantee that they do an excellent job. Don’t be afraid to wait for quality. Those merchants who are ready as soon as you call them? They’re probably sitting at home wringing their thumbs for good reason.

13. Google them

Yes, I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on a merchant’s website. But Google your name (or business name) to see if someone has written an online reference to a third-party site. (Don’t worry too much about one or two negative references if most of them are positive. Even the best traders can’t please everyone.)

14. Find out what extras are included

Can you get an itemized invoice in advance? Make sure there are no hidden charges. If something is not on the bill, ask if it is included.

15. Find out who your suppliers are

Call those providers and ask for a referral. If a merchant often falls behind in paying their suppliers, they may not be very trustworthy. Red flag.

16. Ask about a timeline

You can’t always expect to get exact dates, but try to get them to commit to a deadline. Ask them to contact you if anything is going to change with that, if anything comes up. Once again, put the onus on them to go after you.

17. Take note of the questions they ask you

A good trader should question what you are asking for. They are the experts, so they should have some good alternative recommendations. We have often discouraged clients from building a staircase a certain way because we knew from experience that their visualization was wrong.

Be careful if you find a merchant who says yes to all your requests. They are likely only in it for the money and not to deliver their best work.

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