how to find trustworthy and high quality tradesmen in England?
January 16, 2012 5:28 AM   Subscribe

how to find trustworthy and high quality tradesmen in England? In Particular in or close to Cambridgeshire UK. I've seen a few sites that purport to offer crowdsource reviews of tradesmen but they have a small number of tradesman and few if any reviews which means I can't place too much weight on them. Something like tripadvisor would be awesome as from experience I know that there are so many untrustworthy people doing these jobs.
posted by conrad101 to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be true elsewhere, but it's been my experience that in the UK, online reviews of businesses or tradespeople are thin on the ground and completely unreliable. Any plumber/electrician/plasterer/builder with any degree of skill is likely to be too busy to have much of an online presence beyond being listed in a few directories.

Friends, family, neighbours are work colleagues remain the best sources of information. Failing that, I look in local papers, local newsletters, and similar places; I phone a possible tradesperson, ask them to come and take a look at the work, and get a quote. Then I do the same with another. I try to gauge whether they seem to understand what they're talking about. I ask questions. If their quote is wildly different to someone else's, I get a third opinion from someone else. Whether you feel you can trust the person is more important than the cost of the job.

Remember, you only have to find one good example each trade you need. Once you've found them, you're set for good; or at least, until they retire, when they'll probably be able to recommend a repacement.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ask your neighbours.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 AM on January 16, 2012

Agree with getting personal recommendations, but failing that the trade associations like the Federation of Master Builders or APHC are fairly good at policing their membership and you have recourse to the association if something goes go wrong with the work. People who have joined will tend to advertise the fact.
posted by Abiezer at 5:47 AM on January 16, 2012

If there's a local online forum where people just chat about local stuff, pop on there and ask if anyone can recommend a tradesman. If you search you may find threads with other people doing the same thing.

So far all the recommendations we've had from our local forum have worked out well.
posted by emilyw at 5:50 AM on January 16, 2012

Ask on cam.misc (if you do Usenet) or read the FAQ?
posted by pw201 at 5:53 AM on January 16, 2012

Seconding - ask friends, neighbours, colleagues for recommendations. Much more trustworthy than online reviews that can easily be faked.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:48 AM on January 16, 2012

This sort of question comes up fairly often on the Cantabrigiensis LiveJournal community so it might be worth taking a look there.
posted by daisyk at 8:10 AM on January 16, 2012

Best answer: cam.misc has been around forever, so recommendations on there are usually not bad. I have lived in Cambridge for >10 years and have had most types of work done on the house during that time - if there's a specific type of tradesperson you need feel free to memail me and I'll see who we used last time...
posted by crocomancer at 9:05 AM on January 16, 2012

My local uni has a website for recommending tradespeople. Cambridge might have one?

- on vellum, with sections for amanuenses, hurdlers, coopers and the like ;)
posted by cromagnon at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2012

Thirding cam.misc, which is browsable through Google Groups, and where you'll find plenty of recommendations on the wiki.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:00 PM on January 16, 2012

Also, if you know anyone who lives in an apartment, or a real estate agent in the area, ask them who their building/agency uses. Those dudes have been around the block and will have a good relationship with reliable tradespeople.
posted by smoke at 1:44 PM on January 16, 2012

Response by poster: A big thank you to everyone who has responded. I have been looking on cam.misc - that was very helpful!
posted by conrad101 at 1:44 PM on January 21, 2012

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