Finding trustworthy contractors

Some helpful hints and tips on finding trustworthy contractors.


Finding and selecting a trustworthy company or tradesperson to carry out work on your home or business property can be a stressful experience.

With so many companies and self-employed contractors nationwide specialising in home maintenance and construction, the task of selecting the most reliable and trustworthy contractor for the job can seem a daunting task, especially with daytime TV documenting just how wrong a job can go if you do hire a cowboy or rogue trader.

For large projects, like a full or partial home renovation, you’ll probably need to hire a general contractor. Responsible for the day-to-day running of the project, a general contractor will manage and organise the entire job from start to finish hiring any subcontractors for specialty work such as plumbing and electrical.

To save money homeowners can work as their own general contractor and organise the work that needs carrying out themselves, bringing in specific tradesmen for each individual job. This will probably save money but can be time consuming looking for trustworthy contractors in each trade.

Whichever way you decide to go for your project, our 4 top tips should help you save time, money and stress when you’re preparing to get building or roofing work, renovations or repairs done on your home. They’ll also help you steer clear of problems with builders, plumbers or other contractors.

Ask friends, neighbours or co-workers for recommendations

Before starting your search, check with friends, family and people you know in the neighbourhood to find out if they’ve had any similar work done and if they can recommend anyone. A word of mouth recommendation from someone you trust, that isn’t trying to sell you anything is the best source of finding a top contractor. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool for companies, who can make a good living just by working off these recommendations, without needing any additional marketing.

Another good way to find a contractor is by getting a recommendation from someone who works in a similar field, for example the family member who’s an electrician might have worked on a job with a plumber and can recommend his workmanship. It’s also possible they have more insider information on contractors in your area and can advise who to stay away from.

Getting a word of mouth recommendation does not mean however your search is over and you can give them a call, you still need to do some research on the company before you hire them, even if they do come highly recommended.

Do your research

Searching for a contractor can be a tricky task, with so many out there you could be left hunting through the yellow pages or just randomly googling words and phrases, however there are things you can do to reduce your risk and employ a trustworthy contractor.

Fake reviews and testimonials are littered across the internet, from the contractors own website to and other directory sites, if you can leave an anonymous review then so can they, use your head and don’t believe un-validated reviews.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a rise in websites like Rated People, MyBuilder and CheckaTrade. These websites will interview, background check and monitor contractors, verifying the work and collecting reviews from the customer directly. These sites are a lot more difficult to game and should be your first port of call before the blind Google search.

When searching for a contractor, try to match them to size of the job you have. Larger companies tend to have more overheads and may charge more for fixing a small repair than your local one-man tradesman will. Likewise, smaller companies may charge more to take on larger scale jobs, as they would have to cost in hiring additional machinery or any specialist 3rd party sub-contractors.

Always look for local companies from your area, if anything does go wrong then you want to have them close by to resolve any issues. Some firms will try and fake their location by creating multiple websites and virtual local phone numbers. Always check the contact pages and ask them where they’re based before getting a quotation.

Get multiple quotations

If you only talk to one contractor, how will you know you’re getting the right deal? Getting multiple quotations is time consuming but can provide you with the knowledge to make the right choice when selecting a contractor, and could save you money later on down the road.

Depending on the type of work you need doing, the contractor will come out and perform a free site inspection before submitting the quote, beware of contractors that give you a price over the phone without performing site inspections, particularly for roofing or large scale construction work.

Outline in detail what you expect from the contractor and detail as clearly as possible what work needs undertaking. Pay close attention to how the contractor conducts himself, If you get a bad feeling about any part of the process, listen to your gut and look elsewhere.

Ask for the quotations to be on the company’s official letterhead, which will display address, contact details and trading name (including any company and VAT numbers). Each quote should detail the project and provide start and completion dates along with payment terms and cost of labour and materials. The more detailed the quotation the better it will be.

Some contractors might treat their initial quotes as estimates, meaning prices could potentially go up halfway through the job, so always (where possible) get fixed price quotations. If the contractor says they cannot offer a fixed price quotation because there are too many unknown variables, try to work with them to eliminate the unknowns. If for whatever reason you still are unable to resolve these issues, ask for the quotation to detail what the contractor expects to do, and if additional work is required then they can submit a secondary quotation.

Interview the contractors

It’s estimated that over two-thirds of the problems associated with newly completed construction work lies with poor workmanship. In order to find the right contractor for your job there are some key questions you should ask.

We have detailed the most important questions below, alternatively you can download and print off our contractor questionnaire which you can fill out at each interview. Listen to how they respond and answer your questions, difficulty in replying now could mean poor communication on the job later on.

Insurance cover

Public liability insurance is unfortunately not a legal requirement but any contractors trading without it put their customers at risk from the outset. This policy covers customers for injuries or property damage caused in consequence of the contractors’ activities. Having cover is essential due to the nature of the industry and the risks it presents.

Payment terms

Reputable contractors will not demand all of the money up front and will draw up a binding contract so as you are protected from all eventualities. Deposits should only be required when you’ve requested specialist building materials or the job is likely to take a considerably long time to complete.

If a deposit is requested by your chosen contractor to start the job, 10-15% of the quotation price should be the maximum amount paid. Agree payment terms before work begins on the job and ensure you know what you’re getting for any monies paid upfront. Contractors that offer cash or VAT free deals offer no proof of completed work and are not easily tracked down if things go wrong.


If the contractor is unable to provide at least 3 references to vouch for the quality of workmanship then this might not be the contractor for you. Ask to see photos of previous work carried out and contact any references and if the size and cost of the job merits it, ask if you can see the work in person.

Training certification

With specialised products like GRP roofing systems becoming readily available at local builders merchants, some companies will advertise they can apply a product without attending the training course, instead looking up how-to videos on YouTube. If you’re having a specialist material installed ask to see your contractors training certificate.

If you’ve made it this far then you should have covered the most important bases, now all you need to do is watch as your project gets completed. Remember to keep logging and photographing the work that’s being done and always keep talking to your contractor.

I guess the final bit of advice is always be a great client, you can have the best contractor in the world, but if you treat them like crap then it’s going to reflect on the effort put into the work. Always treat your contractors with respect and make sure they’re made to feel welcome, the extra effort you put in will go a long way towards everyone putting in that little bit extra on your job.

For people interested in our products and want professional installation, we have our own nationwide network of contractors who’ve been fully trained, vetted and approved to install our products. They have gone through a strict and thorough application process and possess excellent work and business ethics and go the extra mile for their customers.