By the end of April 2021, the CIPHE had received over 45 complaints from the public regarding plumbers who are non-members. This is more than the number of complaints received in the whole of last year! As the CIPHE can only help with issues connected to its members, it’s unsurprising that those complaining are disappointed when they find no support can be provided. In these cases, the Institute advises the consumer to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 and gives further information on how to find a professional tradesperson in the future.
While many complaints arise because of poor communication and are easily resolved, in between the usual issues there are some real tales of woe. Unfortunately, a minority of rogue traders operating in the industry persists, but it must be emphasised that the majority of tradespeople are hardworking professionals.
In this blog we are going to cover the dos and don’ts of employing a tradesperson, so you can be confident in your choice of installer.
Finding a tradesperson
- Word-of-mouth recommendations are still the most sought after way of finding a good tradesperson. Your first step is to ask friends and family whom they use but please ensure they are competent to do the work that you require.
- If they cannot recommend someone then it’s time to look online. The CIPHE’s find a professional online tool lists vetted plumbing and heating professionals in your area, who also abide by a Code of Professional Standards for your peace of mind. Alternatively, you can phone or email the CIPHE on 01708 472791 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A list of Approved Plumbers is also available via the WaterSafe website at https://www.watersafe.org.uk/
- You can also visit directory sites such as Which? Trusted Traders, but be aware that not all trade directories vet businesses in the same way, or to the same standards, as the CIPHE.
- Many people also turn to social media, gaining recommendations from Twitter or community groups on Facebook. Be aware that a tradesperson’s friends or family may be recommending them, so do check their credentials out independently before employing them.
- You can verify CIPHE members’ credentials online via the CIPHE verification tool.
- Unless it’s an emergency, you should always obtain three quotes.
- Make sure you discuss all your requirements in full.
- Be realistic with your expectations e.g. if you are going for a bathroom refit, keep in mind that the glossy showrooms don’t have to hide pipework or deal with any building quirks like strange room shapes or uneven walls.
- Ensure the installer has relevant insurance to cover the work being undertaken.
- The cheapest quote may not always the best. It’s not just labour costs, prices can vary wildly between premium and budget parts so you need to know if you are comparing quotes like-for-like.
- On larger jobs, get a breakdown of costs (this will also help you to compare quotes).
- Don’t go with an open-ended quote. Agree a cost and make sure any extras are discussed in full.
- Remember that if you change your mind part way through the job, you will be likely to incur more costs and extend the project deadline. Again, make sure this is discussed in full with your installer.
- Ask for your quote in writing and find out when they can start.
- Remember you may have to wait for a good tradesperson – the best will be booked up with clients well in advance.
Before work starts:
- Make sure you agree a start date and payment terms etc.
- The industry is experiencing some supply chain issues due to COVID-19. If you have decided to source materials yourself, make sure they are there in time for the engineer to start. If there are any delays, let them know ASAP.
- Likewise, if your plumber has ordered materials that are consequently delayed, they may be unable to start on the agreed date. This will be as frustrating to them as it is to you.
During the work
- Work may be noisy, dusty or both. Expect disruption.
- Think ahead – if your water needs to be turned off, make sure you have the kettle and any other water bottles / containers required filled.
- Remember that we are still experiencing a pandemic. Your engineer may need to open windows to keep the workspace well ventilated. They should be wearing PPE, and may need to take more frequent breaks for washing hands / tools. You should keep socially distanced from your engineer. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, you must inform them immediately. Likewise they may need to reschedule works if they experience symptoms.
- If there is something niggling you about the job, talk to your engineer. They may be merrily working away, without any idea you are unhappy! Most complaints occur due to a lack of communication, so it’s really beneficial to both sides to talk out any small issues while they can be easily rectified. When it comes to plumbing, tiny niggles can become big, expensive problems, so don’t delay.
If you need to complain
- Stay calm. You don’t want to damage any working relationships, and most issues can be easily rectified if addressed swiftly.
- Write yourself a list of any issues, so you know you can cover everything you need to.
- Communicate this list clearly and calmly to your engineer.
- Give them the opportunity to explain their side. Most of the time they’ll have a good explanation and will be able to talk you through all the aspects of the job.
- Some issues may be out of the engineer’s control, (e.g. delays caused by supply chain issues), but on the problems they can influence, be firm you want a solution.
- Agree to a way forward.
If communication breaks down completely and you cannot agree a way forward, the CIPHE may be able to help with its Complaints Procedure, but only if your engineer is a member. The CIPHE cannot aid in complaints against non-members. This is because only CIPHE members volunteer to abide by a Code of Professional Standards. Find out more about our Complaint’s Procedure.
Don’t forget if you need a professional plumbing or heating engineer, you can use the CIPHE’s find a professional online tool, phone 01708 472791 or email email@example.com for registered tradespeople in your area.