Communication is key

Heating engineer and apprentice

In Consumer Advice

Taking on tradespeople to do work on your property can be a daunting task – we’ve all heard the horror stories of rogue tradespeople or jobs that run on for double the time and double the cost originally expected – so how do you avoid potential issues?

Rest assured, the majority of those in the construction industry are genuine tradespeople, with integrity, qualifications and experience. However, we are all human and there can be times when mistakes occur, or communication breaks down on both sides. This blog covers some common problems that arise and how to avoid them in the first place.

1) Find a professional

Firstly, choose a member of a professional/registration body (like the CIPHE) to ensure you employ a tradesperson with the correct skills and accreditations to do the job. While word of mouth can be an excellent way to find a tradesperson, always make sure you still ask for references and that you verify any qualifications and memberships.

2) Get at least three quotes

Don’t be put off from giving your plumbing/heating engineer some idea of your budget, even if it’s just a ballpark figure. You also need to work out who is responsible for sourcing tradespeople for additional works (e.g., an electrician / decorator / tiler / plasterer, etc.) and who is buying all the materials – will you do it or will you ask your tradesperson (who may get a trade discount) to source?

3) Be consistent

If you change your mind halfway through a project, you are likely to incur additional costs. Be clear on what you want before the job begins and stay consistent with your plans.

On larger jobs, there may be some unforeseen issues that neither you nor your installer were aware of, so it’s wise to put some extra budget away just in case. If you have any concerns about the budget, talk to your installer straight away. Be in control and make sure up front that any changes to budget or requirements are agreed by both parties in writing before they occur.

4) Agree a schedule

Good plumbing and heating engineers will be busy and may be booked up for months in advance. Expect to have to wait for the right person to do the job – especially so if you have multiple trades involved in your project.

To help avoid issues, insist on a clear, realistic schedule once you have agreed to a quote. If the schedule begins to slip, do talk to your tradesperson right away so they can explain why and re-arrange key dates to suit you both - many problems may be out of their control and as frustrating to them as they are to you.

5) Be realistic

Buyer beware – the glossy magazines and designer showrooms may sell you a picture of luxury, but is it really going to look the same in your cramped bathroom or that tiny loft space you are converting? Remember, the bathrooms in showrooms are not plumbed in, don’t have to hide pipework, don’t have issues such as uneven floors or walls, nor have to worry about where the water or waste pipes are.

You need to work with your installer to plan a design for your house to suit your room, lifestyle, current plumbing/heating systems and it has to adhere to all Building and Water Regulations (Bylaws in Scotland).

If you are sourcing products, above all else, you must ensure that they are compliant with regulations and standards (for example, CE marking). You will also need to ensure that you have all the correct measurements, and that everything you need will be delivered within the correct timescales. If you have not done any of the above, it will cause problems and delay when it comes to installation.

6) Expect noise, dust and disruption!

Now this is the biggie! Expect there to be disruption, noise and mess while the job is being completed. It may be annoying whilst underway but it will be worth it in the end.

To find a professional plumbing or heating engineer in your area use the CIPHE’s online find a plumber tool, email or phone 01708 472791.