Find a Tradesperson

publication date: Apr 6, 2011
author/source: Guest article by Douglas Bell

Find a Tradesperson

Operation New Front Door!

I have lived in my flat for six years and inherited the front door when I bought it, not unusual in itself.  However, this door has not fared well and seems to have more filler in it than actual wood so I decided it was time for a replacement.  I visited a few DIY stores and online retailers to help choose my new door and after some research it was duly chosen. 

But how do you find a local tradesperson to fit it that you can trust and will charge a fair price?  This was the question I asked myself and so I asked my colleagues for some recommendations but no-one could help.  I was nervous to simply pick up Yellow Pages and chose the prettiest advert as I had no idea if the person on the end of the phone knew their mortise from their tenon, as I certainly don’t.

Well, being a fully paid up member of Which? I decided to use their search facilities to find local tradespeople who came recommended in my area.  This offered me four choices so I phoned each one with the same brief.  I knew exactly which door I wanted, exactly which type of lock I needed and letterbox size.  What I needed them to do was give me a price to supply the goods and hang the door.

Carpenter No.1 did not even return my call.  Ok, so I assume that business must be so good that they didn’t need my money.

Carpenter No.2 came across very professional on the phone and was able to give me a quote there and then.  He explained that he had the catalogue with him so he knew the prices but he did say he was very busy and would not be able to do the job on a weekday for some time.  He could do it on a Saturday though within a month.  Personally I don’t have a big issue with waiting for a tradesperson who is in high demand as there is usually a good reason they are busy – because they are good at what they do.  I explained I was trying to get some comparison quotes and he was the first person I had spoken to and that I would get back to him if I wanted him to do the work.

Carpenter No.3 said he would supply the goods at trade price to me and charge me a flat hourly rate to do the work.  He was able to tell me it would take a full day to do the job but could not tell me what the trade price of the goods would be.  I even asked him to give me a price for the complete job and he simply re-iterated what he had originally said.  This didn’t really give me much confidence in his ability to work with me even though he may be a great carpenter, so I decided he wouldn’t be getting the job.

Carpenter No.4 had a nice ‘local’ website, nothing flash but clear and concise.  What also drew me to him was the fact that he is a member of the Institute of Carpenters.  As I’ve previously said, I don’t know much about carpentry but somehow this seemed to make me feel more at ease as I had someone to go to if things went wrong. Carpenter No.4 said he would prefer to visit my flat to see exactly the scope of the job before he gave me a price.  No problem, to me this ensured there would be no surprises if he got the job or “oh you didn’t tell me it was on the first floor so I’ll have to charge you more” type conversations to be had.

He duly visited, measured up and came back to me with a price the following day.  The price was lower than the others and he got the job but even if his price was the same or slightly higher he would still have got the job.  I felt I was in safe hands with a professional that knew exactly the scope of the job and I had an independent party to approach if things didn’t go to plan.

I am pleased to say the door has been hung; the mess was kept to a minimum and the new door looks fantastic.

So what pearls of wisdom can I offer anyone reading this?  First of all, a personal recommendation goes a long way.  Secondly, membership of a trade body shows integrity, a dedication to their trade and offers recourse if anything goes wrong.  Thirdly, I’d prefer a site visit for any works rather than a phone quote to ensure everyone is fully aware of the scope of the job and no ‘surprises’ occur.

Oh, and who was Carpenter No.4? Thanks to Which’s local service:-
Graeme Davison
Tel: 0118 956 7112
Canny Carpentry
(he is based in Reading, Berks)

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