According to the non-profit Ombudsman Services, six in 10 homeowners don't check the credentials of tradespeople before they hire them, a factor contributing to many ‘rogue trader’ scenarios. And within the realm of plumbing, too, finding a skilled professional is not always easy.
But what is the best way to help ensure your plumber does a good job?
One of the most reliable ways of finding a good plumber is by asking friends, family or neighbours. Despite all of our technological advances, word-of-mouth remains one of the best ways to find a tradesperson.
If you already know a good electrician but need a plumber, you could ask the electrician for a recommendation. In their field they often know many people working in other trades.
The local business directory is a distinctly hit and miss affair.
Before you reach for the business directory, try WaterSafe, an organisation that brings together seven approved contractor schemes in the UK, namely: APHC, SNIPEF, CIPHE, WIAPS, Anglian Water’s A Plus, Severn Trent Water’s WaterMark and Thames Water’s TAPS.
Any firm approved by WaterSafe is guaranteed to employ individuals with a Water Regulations Certificate and at least an NVQ L2 in plumbing mechanical services – or equivalent.
Local authorities often run "trusted trading schemes" to help members of the public find electricians, plumbers, roofers – and others. Visit Trading Standards and enter your postcode to find a reputable tradesperson.
The government-backed TrustMark is also a good place to find a reputable plumber. Once again you can simply enter your postcode and a list of the nearest approved tradespeople will appear. These providers have been checked for skill level, work quality and financial status.
The TrustMark logo also means that a firm has signed up to a code of practice which covers good health and safety practices, customer care and insurance. These companies are also checked on an ongoing basis.
Aside for government-supported approval schemes, there are private websites that can help you find a tradesperson.
However, it has been argued that some of these websites – which operate a review system like TripAdvisor or eBay – suffer from a conflict of interests: the tradespeople pay to be on their site, so are those sites more inclined to remove negative reviews?
Sadly, the less time you have to find a plumber, the less sure you can be that they will do a good job. However, if you have taken out home emergency cover, your insurer should send a reputable plumber out to help. In the first instance, call your home emergency insurer for assistance.
Be aware that your regular home insurance policy is unlikely to include this service, unless you bought it as an add-on.
When you find a plumber:
- Give them a very specific brief so you both know what is expected
- Ask if there is a guarantee
- Make sure the firm has an established address and telephone number
- Check in on your trader regularly – don’t just leave them to it
And when you find a good plumber, don’t lose their number!
startrescue.co.uk always recommend seeking the services of a professional tradesperson If you're not entirely comfortable carrying out repairs or maintenance by yourself.