10 ways to find trusted tradespeopleAvoid cowboys and rip offs when getting someone in

22 September 2010

Builder walking along with a wheelbarrow

The freeholder will be responsible for structural issues such as the building's insurance

Recent news stories about a gang of cowboy builders who allegedly made nearly £1m scamming homeowners in the South of England once again show how hard it is to find a tradesperson you can trust. 

Stories like these seem to pop up on a monthly basis so Which? has come up with 10 great ways to find builders, plumbers, electricians, heating engineers and other tradespeople that you can trust. 

Stay local

Which? Local contains listings of builders, mechanics, plumbers and many more trades recommended by Which? members in your local area. Type in your postcode into the site and find recommended traders in your area.

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. You might consider asking how long they have been trading, or to see examples of any recent work they might have done. See our guide to employing a builder for more details.


For larger projects, you might consider using a professionally written contract and, where possible, to agree to a price in advance of the work starting. If you have any questions about contracts or you are not sure what to do, contact Which? Legal Service


Make sure that your tradesperson has a landline number and address. A mobile phone number alone is not good enough. 

Warning signs

It’s not always easy to spot a cowboy. Signs include offering a discount for paying cash upfront, claiming to work for a company while in fact working independently, failing to give a detailed quote or not following an agreed schedule of works.

Gas safe

If you’re employing someone to work with gas (for example, fitting a boiler), it’s essential that they’re on the Gas Safe register. This has replaced the previous trade body, Corgi. 

Know your costs

Research the likely costs of any work before you get a quote. Our research found costs between companies differ wildly. Get three quotes and see our guide to tradespeoples' costs for an indication of typical prices.


Check a trademan’s insurance certificate. Ensure they’re covered with public liability insurance in case someone is hurt on site, and if they’re covered for damage to your property that may result in you hiring other tradesmen.

Pay by card

Paying by credit card means you’re entitled to Section 75 protection for purchases between £100 and £30,000. This means that you can make a claim to your credit card company if the services or goods are not delivered to the specified standard.


Find out whether a tradesman has been sued or has County Court Judgements (CCJs) or court orders against them by checking with the Registry Trust. All CCJs are recorded here and records kept for six years.

pound coins

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