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In Rogue trader

Homeowners typically search for plumbing services when they are embarking on an exciting new project or when disaster has struck, for example when a pipe has burst. Given the importance of the projects and the investment required, finding a reliable professional to conduct the work is crucial.

However, this is not always a quick and easy process, particularly if you are new to an area or you cannot source any good local recommendations from people you trust. Taking the time to find a qualified professional who is right for your job is well worth it.

Here are a few resources that can help homeowners find a professional they can trust and steps they can take if concerns arise:

  • Firstly, vet who you’d like to undertake the work. You can do this by researching their website – reputable companies will have relevant accreditations, references to previous work and potentially membership to trade associations. If your plumber doesn’t have a website, they can provide these upon request. 
  • If it does state on their website that they are a member of an association, you will be able to verify this directly. For example, CIPHE is a professional membership body which was set up to raise professional standards within the plumbing and heating industry and to protect consumers. Its members are verified by the Code of Professional Standards. CIPHE has a tool you can check to confirm a member’s verification
  • Once you have selected a plumber, ask them to provide an estimate of the cost of the work required. Agree how and when you expect to be notified about additional costs that crop up too, for example, requesting to be briefed as soon as a potential cost has arisen so you can approve this before work continues. This will help prevent any unexpected costs appearing on your bill. 
  • When it is time to pay, do not use cash and always request an invoice – paper trails will legally protect you if the professional you booked gives you any cause for concern. 
  • If you do have any concerns, gather evidence of these by taking photos and documenting any dialogue you have had about it, including dates. 
  • You can then speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau who can provide guidance on what to do if you think you have been scammed. If they believe you have been unfairly treated, the Trading Standards will take action against the trader. This could range from providing further education to taking legal action. 
  • If the plumber you selected was a member of an association, and you feel that they have not abided by the standards set out by the professional body, you can make a formal complaint to the associate. It will undertake an investigation and a disciplinary committee will work with both parties to reach a resolution. 
  • If you are unsure who to choose, CIPHE has a search tool which allows you to plug your postcode in and find a professional near you. CIPHE also has a number of guides and resources that can help you and provide technical support to plumbers too. This includes a Home Heating Guide which will be launching later this year with details on the Future Homes Standard and advice to consumers on the variety of central heating systems that are set to help the UK meet Net Zero.