Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards Team have shared their top tips on what to do when hiring tradespeople.
The team have seen an increase in building and home improvement complaints and is urging people to do their research before agreeing to have any work done.
Householders should be wary of cold callers and always look for reputable and recommended tradespeople.
Gary Webster, Fair Trading Team Manager at Cornwall Council, said: “We recommend that people take more time to do their research and where possible consider using a trader approval scheme to source their builder or tradesperson from.
“The Buy with Confidence Scheme gives people access to a list of reliable traders that have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. Details of approved traders can be found on the Cornwall Council website.
“Friends and family recommendations can be a really good source of information too but it is still important to do as much research as possible.”
Gary added that you might need to wait to find a reliable tradesperson that can fit you in.
“If a trader is keen to start immediately that can raise concerns,” he said. “Good tradespeople are usually in high demand, so will often be busy. It can sometimes take several months before they can start work with you.”
Homeowners should agree a clear schedule of works and a payment schedule before any work begins.
“Ensure you have a clear idea of the work you want doing and stage payments,” Gary said.
“You should not have to pay large deposits unless you know exactly what the money is being used for.”
Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Finding reputable tradespeople can be a daunting task but if you follow the advice given and do your research you could save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run.
“We’d also like to remind people who have experienced problems with tradespeople or companies to report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline.”
The Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline takes all enquiries on behalf of Trading Standards across England and Wales.
For advice or to make a complaint, call 0808 223 1133 or visit the Citizens Advice website.