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How to find good tradespeople

Everyone loves a brilliant tradesperson. So how do you go about finding one? Let’s take a look at the best ways to hire qualified professionals you can trust.

Guest Author
Words by: Nicky Burridge

Contributing Editor

You want the best for your home - and when you’re potentially shelling out tens of thousands of pounds on renovations - you need to be sure you’re in safe hands.

So how do you find the best tradespeople for the job?

  • Recommendations are everything when it comes to hiring. Speak to friends, family and neighbours to find out who’s in their little black books

  • Social media is a great source. Many companies will upload photographic evidence of their work with customer comments and reviews alongside them

  • Contact previous customers to find out how the work went

  • Check the tradespeople you’re hiring are registered with industry trade bodies 

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A qualified tradesperson is highly likely to be a member of their trade association or professional body.

And most set high standards of entry for their members. 

They also have additional benefits, such as running dispute resolution schemes and offering guarantees on their members’ work.

Some trade bodies cover just one type of tradesperson, such as the Royal Institution of British Architects, while others cover a number of associated areas. 

The Blue Flame Certification, for example, covers tradespeople in the gas, oil, electrical, solid fuel, building services, renewable technologies and building energy efficiency fields.

Many trade bodies have search functions on their websites to help you find members in your area.

A man with a toolbox checking a radiator

How to find qualified gas engineers

The Gas Safe register is the only official registration body for gas businesses and engineers in the UK, and by law all businesses operating in this area must be on it.

It ensures only qualified engineers are legally licensed to work on gas-related projects and conducts inspections to ensure work is being done correctly. 

It also investigates complaints against registered businesses and engineers.

All Gas Safe registered engineers carry a Gas Safe ID card with a unique licence number, which you can ask to see.

You should also check that they have the qualifications needed to carry out the specific type of gas work that you need doing.

Find a Gas Safe engineer 

How to find qualified electricians

Electricians don’t have to be registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) by law, but it’s worth finding one who is. 

NICEIC members must comply with strict standards and regulations through regular testing, verification and assessments of their work and equipment.

Contractors registered with the NICEIC Building Regulations Schemes in England and Wales are also authorised to self-certify their work to the Local Building Control Body, saving the customer the hassle.

Finally, if things go wrong, NICEIC offers a complaints procedure. And if work is non-compliant, it will employ another contractor to rectify it at no additional cost to you.

Search for a NICEIC-registered electrician

How to find a qualified plumber

The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) is the trade body for professionals working in the plumbing and heating industry in England and Wales.

Members must comply with British industry standards, including building and water regulations. 

And they must have adequate levels of insurance in place.

APHC also operates a customer complaints procedure.

Search for an APHC plumber

How to find a qualified window installer

For new windows and doors, FENSA is the government-authorised scheme to look out for.

FENSA approved installers are regularly assessed to ensure their work complies with building regulations, is energy efficient and registered with the local council.

When work is completed, you will receive a FENSA certificate, which confirms the work complies with building regs and verifies that the installer’s guarantee is insured. 

You’ll need to show this certificate when it comes to selling your property.

Find a local FENSA Approved Installer

How to find a qualified structural engineer

There are two key professional bodies for structural engineers, The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and The Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE).

To be a member of either organisation, engineers have to meet minimum qualification levels.

Find a structural engineer with ICE

Find a structural engineer with IStructE

How to find a qualified architect

All architects working in the UK must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). 

ARB ensures its members are highly qualified, have appropriate insurance and stick to the professional standards set out in the Architects’ Code.

Only those who are registered can call themselves an architect. 

But there is nothing to stop someone from legally providing architectural services, even if they are not registered. 

Businesses referring to themselves as architectural consultants or architectural assistants are not necessarily qualified architects.

ARB maintains the Architects Register, which is the official list of the UK’s 42,000+ architects. 

If someone offering architectural services is not on the register, they are not an architect.

The Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) is the professional body for architects working in the UK.

Find a qualified architect at RIBA

Government schemes for registered tradespeople

The government’s Competent person scheme enables tradespeople to self-certify certain types of building work that would otherwise need building regs approval.

The initiative encompasses 17 trade schemes, including electricians and gas engineers, plumbers and builders. 

The schemes have their own measures in place to ensure their members’ work is performed to a high standard.

A list of all the trade bodies that are part of the scheme can be found here

TrustMark is a government-endorsed quality scheme that licences and audits more than 35 individual scheme providers. 

It covers more than 15,000 registered businesses, ranging from plumbers, electricians and builders, to landscape gardeners and leadwork specialists.

TrustMark registered businesses are thoroughly vetted and monitored to ensure they meet required standards in technical competence, customer service and trading practices.

Registered businesses must also provide a warranty on their work to protect consumers.

How many quotes should I get?

It’s a good idea to get at least three quotes when planning a renovation.

Try to be as clear as possible on what the project entails, so the quotes can be meaningfully compared.

And remember, the cheapest quote won’t always be the best one.

Once you’ve chosen a tradesperson, it’s a good idea to get a written contract drawn up in case disputes arise. 

And ensure any changes to the contract or the fees are agreed in advance in writing.

Should I pay for things in advance?

It’s generally not a good idea to pay for the whole project in advance. 

But many tradespeople reasonably require a deposit or a percentage of their costs up front to help them buy materials in advance.

Some organisations offer a service, such as the TrustMark Payment Protection service, under which funds are held by a third party and released to the tradesperson at key milestones during the project.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.