However much you like DIY, some jobs are best left to the pros – but how can you get in someone you trust?

There can't be many who haven't had a bad experience with tradesmen – and, yes, let’s face it, it's usually men because tradeswomen are pretty thin on the ground.

Problems can range from the relatively minor but extremely annoying, such as not turning up and not telling you they're not turning up, to the much more serious, such as abandoning the job halfway through, leaving you thousands of pounds out of pocket and with a home that may not even be habitable.

Yes, it is definitely hard to find a good tradesperson – even the ones who are good at their jobs can often be unreliable or unwilling to answer their phone when you need them.

Thankfully though, there are ways to find better ones.

It's no secret that the best way to find someone who'll do a good job is to get a recommendation – however, this doesn't necessarily follow when it's a recommendation from another tradesperson. While your plumber may know a good electrician they've worked with before, for example, be wary – it might just be a case of them trying to get a mate some work.

Recommendations from a former customer, or from your own friends, colleagues and neighbours, are more reliable, but if no one you know can suggest the person you need, where can you turn? An architect, if you're using one, should have contractors they use regularly and will be happy to get quotations from. Depending on how much you want the architect to do (and how much you want to pay them), they will often be able to manage the project and the contractors for you.

A trade body, such as the Federation of Master Builders ( or the Federation of Roofing Contractors (, can also be a good place to start. Many trade bodies have a section on their website where you can search for members. There should also be an explanation of what qualifications members have, the code of practice they've signed up to or the undertakings they make, etc, so you know what to expect.

For some jobs, it's essential to check the tradesperson belongs to the professional body they claim to. For example, if you need someone to work on a gas appliance, by law they have to be a member of Gas Safe Register. You can check someone's credentials at and also search for members near you.

Gas Safe Register members can self-certify their work complies with building regulations, and this is useful with other trades, too. It means you don't have to employ a building control or approved inspector (unless it's a job only they can sign off) to confirm that the contractor's work complies with building regs, as the contractor can do it themselves and, crucially, can issue a certificate to confirm this (which you'll need when you sell your home). While this isn't necessary for all jobs, it is for some, including a lot of electrical work.

Many electricians who can self-certify their work belong to NICEIC, and their website – – is particularly useful because it has a 'Householder Wall of Shame' page, which lists companies trying to pass themselves off as NICEIC members when they're not.