Ask a Tradesman
Reluctance to show previous work
The builder we were hoping to use for a double storey side extension has excellent reviews on Checkatrade, with ample photos. His quote was well put together, detailed and the guy's been perfectly professional. When we asked if we would be able to see some of his previous work he said he wasn't keen to do that as he felt it wasn't courteous to his customers to have people turn up but that we could check his property, that he's totally rennovated, and look at the photos on his website and checkatrade. It would appear that many of his jobs are in wealthy areas (we're not), so I can kind of understand where he's coming from, regarding not wanting to use previous clients' homes as "show homes", However, we thought it was the norm to get feedback from actual customers and to view previous work.
Up until this point we've been very impressed with him. We have a meeting with him tomorrow so we're going to address this again but is this normal?
I can understand what he means about visiting previous clients' properties as we have experience where clients are not keen for unknown prospective clients to be walking around their homes. However, we invite people to take a look at our feedback and pick 2-3 jobs of clients that they want to get in touch with. We then contact those clients asking if they would be happy for us to pass on their personal contact details and if so many are happy to liase with others by e-mail or phone. This has on occasion led to site visits. Ask your builder if he can get you some phone numbers and email addresses and speak to his clients this way.
It may also be worth a try asking for an address of a previous extension and calling the local building control team to see if they had any serious workmanship issues on that job and if they were resolved.
If still no success I would question if his work is up to standard and if he would be able to provide you with the finish you are paying for and need.
You should also be asking if he is VAT registered, if not, why? The threshold is 79k income for 2013 but was 77k for last year so it would raise concerns if he isn't and he is claiming to have done other similar work.
UK Property Services
Answered 16th Apr 2013
I cant see a problem with looking at previous jobs. ALL of my customers are happy for me to show potential customers the work I have carried out for them. If he had a good relationship with his customers why should they mind helping him win more contracts??!!
Looking at pictures isnt enough and neither is feedback on a website. You need recommendations from previous customers of his and to see work completed by HIM. Its all to easy to make a lovely website and get a great name on these type of websites but it isnt always fact based!!
I also agree with Louise regarding VAT registration, if he isnt VAT registered he probably hasnt done the jobs he has talked about as one decent job puts you over the threshold. Its also a good idea to chat with your local building control and see if they can back up is claims.
Dont hire someone until you are 100% happy that they are the one for you, it may end up costing you a lot of money!
Answered 16th Apr 2013