Finding a competent, reliable and reasonably priced contract tradesman is a quest which often ends in disappointment and frustration. Even if you are relatively skilled in basic DIY, situations will always arise where expert help is required and unless you have been lucky enough to have previously used the services of someone you trust, you will need to start right at the beginning to find a reliable tradesperson.
When you think about it - you are about to invite a complete stranger into your home, equipped with a toolbox! How do you know you can trust them to provide an excellent service, complete the job and not rip you off - or worse leave you out of pocket and dealing with dangerous mistakes?
You can either circle an advert in the local paper for someone you know nothing about and hope for the best or you can rely on the recommendations by word of mouth from others who have previously used reliable tradesmen.
There is also a third option which has recently become popular; it is a combination of both: the online contractor referral websites.
These sites contain the feedback reviews of homeowners who have used the services of contract tradespersons contacted via the website. Some sites use a grading system to give contractors marks for various aspects of the job such as price, reliability, ability and overall satisfaction, others ask for general comments to describe your experience.
Typically you begin your search by entering your contact details and postcode area, entering a full description of the job you need doing and timescale for when you need it done by. Once posted on the site, your contact details and job request are made available to be viewed by all tradespeople the system has identified as being equipped with the correct skills who have registered with the site and are located within your geographic area.
Tradespeople who are interested and available to take on your work will then contact you via the website or directly as per your preference. This gives you the chance to check on any feedback previously given for them and decide whether you like the look of any. Ideally you should obtain written quotes from at least three sources before committing yourself.
The service of online contractor referral websites is usually free to the homeowner; it is usually the tradespeople who pay a fee to be registered on the website.
Of course this type of service will only work if you are willing to give feedback of your own experience - whether good or bad - once your job is completed, so others can use your comments to help them in their quest for a reliable tradesperson.
About the author: Paul Dodd explains how to find a reliable contractor, writing here for Brac Contracts Limited