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Guide to finding trustworthy tradesmen

Guide to finding a trustworthy tradesperson
Published March 2023

Looking to carry out some refurbishments around your home but unsure where to start? Finding the right tradesperson can save you time, money and frustration. Check out these tips to help you find an honest and reliable trader with the right skills and attitude for your requirements.

Imagine your kitchen needs renovating, you'd like the bathroom ceiling repainted, you’re after a new shower cubicle and the bedrooms could do with re-carpeting. How do you dodge the ‘cowboys’ and source trustworthy tradesmen to provide a high-quality service at a price that suits your budget?

How to find a tradesman?

Online marketplace Rated People opens in new window offers the following tips for finding trustworthy tradespeople:

  1. It’s vital that you carry out checks on a tradesperson you’re looking to hire and never pay large amounts upfront.
  2. Online review sites offer more in the way of vetting than word of mouth or directories, but the checks shouldn’t stop there. For instance, ask for proof of any certifications that they claim to have and always read what previous customers have to say.
  3. Don’t just pay attention to positive reviews but take the time to look for and read any negative feedback too to build a fuller picture of the tradesperson you’re considering.
  4. For added financial protection, avoid paying in cash and pay by credit or debit card wherever possible.

Our guide provides more practical tips on where to look for someone reliable, including useful sites to help you start your search as well what to consider when briefing contractors. We’ve also outlined steps for minimising potential problems and resolving any issues.

Find someone reliable 

Get recommendations from friends and family

Asking for recommendations is often the best way to find a dependable contractor.

Use the TrustMark tool

TrustMark offers a tool that lets you search for reputable tradespeople within 50 miles of your postcode.

Research your options

The following sites can help you find a reliable tradesperson:

Before you hire a tradesperson 

  1. Get quotes
  2. Check they have insurance
  3. Make sure you have their full contact details
  4. Check their credentials and trade license
  5. Check for references

Please note: If a trader doesn’t have the right insurance and things go wrong or somebody is injured, you might be forced to cover the cost of fixing things, paying damages or legal fees.

Quotes vs Estimates

It’s handy to understand the key differences between quotes and estimates:


  • A promise to do work at an agreed price
  • Legally binding
  • Fixed unless extra work is commissioned, or unforeseen circumstances occur


  • A best guess at the cost
  • Not legally binding
  • Subject to change

Minimising any potential problems

Check if you need permission or approval

Always check if you need planning permission or building regulations approval.

Provide a clear brief

Unless it’s a very small job, make sure you describe exactly what needs to be done in detail.

Ask for a written quote 

The written quote should include an agreed start and finish time, as well as agreed payment terms.

Get a written contract

Insist on a written contract for any medium to large jobs so that you have protection if anything goes wrong.

Don’t make advance payments

With the exception of covering a fair percentage if materials need to be bought in advance.

Things to consider when briefing 

  • Do you need to supply anything?
  • Does the cost include subcontractors?
  • Who is responsible for the cleaning up and disposal of waste?

Please note: Be wary of tradespeople who won’t put anything in writing – it could be a sign of dishonesty.

Governing bodies

Check if the tradesperson is registered with a relevant governing body.


  • Gas Safe Register


  • APHC


  • ECA


  • GGF

Building & general

  • NFB
  • FMB
  • Certass

Resolving any issues

If the tradesperson is at fault, it may be possible to get the work redone or get your money back. Make sure you:

  • Have all the relevant paperwork and receipts
  • Take photos of the work
  • Make notes detailing the problem, including dates and times

Here are some tips on how to best proceed:

  1. Contact the trader and ask them to fix the problem
  2. You can ask for a refund and stop them doing any more work
  3. Agree to a deadline for fixing the problem
  4. Find out if they’re a member of any governing bodies that have a dispute resolution centre
  5. If you’re still having trouble resolving the issue, explore your legal options
  6. You might even be able to claim your money back if you paid using a credit or debit card

To save yourself a potential headache, follow these tips next time you're looking for a trustworthy tradesman. For more handy tips, have a look at our home insurance guides.

This Money Talk post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.