Why is it so hard to get contractors to do jobs?

Discussion in 'Job Talk' started by vrDrew63, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    After living in the US for many years, I've been somewhat disappointed at how difficult it sometimes can be to get work done on my house here in SW England.

    There have been several times when I've tried to get plumbing, electrical, and other work done: I've called firms and tradespeople, only to be told they are too busy. A couple of times contractors have come out, quoted me a job, and then failed to actually turn up and do the work. Or, most recently, a fellow came out to look at a small fencing job. Told me he'd send me a quote. A week later, nothing.

    I'm just not used to this. I always offer to pay 100% on completion. Make deposits if needed. Make arrangements so the tradesperson has parking, etc. And I don't think I've ever quibbled over a quoted price.

    Now, granted none of my jobs have been emergencies. It's not like my boiler had stopped working, or there was water streaming out of a busted pipe. But I would have thought a non-emergency job, where I let the tradesperson do the work at his or her schedule, would have been desirable.

    I've got a couple of projects I'd really like to get done on my house. I'd like to install a wall-hung bidet toilet in one of the bathrooms, and I'd like to add a hose tap and electrical outlet in my back garden. I have a "mental budget" of a couple thousand pounds for these projects. I know they are beyond my abilities for a DIY approach. But I'm wary of getting disappointed by trades that just don't seem that interested in doing any sort of work that isn't an emergency or part of a massive construction project.

    Any suggestions on how I can achieve better results, or what I might be doing wrong?
  2. Ind spark

    Ind spark Screwfix Select

    I think people are just busy and can't justify coming off a big job to earn less money.

    Maybe look for a one man band, or even someone who works full time at a company but does a few jobs on a Saturday.

    By me we have a next door neighbour app where you can put jobs like this on and people usually get a lot of replies.

    FUNDIMOLD Active Member

    Welcome to the UK. I now worry about the guys who have time to do my jobs because you wonder why they aren't booked already. The good ones are still out there but you have to accept they may take weeks to fit you in and you need to accept the date they give you; if you have a holiday booked cancel it! (I exaggerate to make a point). The worst kind are the time wasters (I'll send a quote!) because you lose more time hanging around for a response that never comes. Shamefully, even established outfits are guilty of that practice.
  4. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    Need to find someone and build relationship vs picking random trades as most of us got our regular customers. I think about 10% of the customers I work for give me well over half the yearly work I do. The other 90% just fill in.

    I really don't want to travel far with current roads. 15 miles is enough so find local trades.
    I need to be able to park near job.
    I need clutter removed and easy access.
    I need more than a few days work.
    I need cheque or bank transfer as not interested in cash.
    Need a list of requirements
    If your getting others to price work (good idea) I don't want to see them or pass them at house gate.
    I need plenty on notice. 3 to 6 months is about right.

    As a customer get a written quote. I get the odd customer that won't give me contact details other than name and address. Odd that.

    Keep lines open with emails. Tell the trades your getting ready and looking forward to work. Say that you've moved car and cleared access. Say your sure of what you want. Ask questions and stay keen as it all helps.

    Understand there are very few of us trades working with high demand at the moment.

    I always think its a good idea to stop and ask for business card if you see trade local. Just a 2 min chat and if your not happy don't call the number on card. People do that we me, not call that is. Ha

    FUNDIMOLD Active Member

    Good point about building relationships. I've used a few guys a number of times and although it doesn't save me a penny I know they will take my call or return texts because I pay on receipt of invoice and I make sure they have a space to park their van. The small stuff counts.
  6. Ind spark

    Ind spark Screwfix Select

    And if an electrician ever says have you got a vacuum I can use be very suspicious.
  7. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    I always get other time served tradesmen in to do my painting as can't afford my prices! ;)
  8. vrDrew63

    vrDrew63 Active Member

    Thanks for all of the responses. A lot of food for thought.

    My late mother had a "one man band" sort of guy. I'll call him "Gil" (not his real name.) Gil did all sorts of jobs for my mother. Taps, electrical outlets, plastering, insulation.

    The problem was, IMHO, "Gil" wasn't very good. He put in power showers, which regularly ended up blowing fuses. (True confession, I ended up replacing one of the 10 amp fuses with a 20 amp one, a month or so before we sold the property. Still feel a tiny bit guilty about that one....) For all the electrical work he did in her house, I can never remember seeing a certificate of anything. He also spent hours chatting with my mum over cups of coffee and tea.

    Very nice. But not really what I'm looking for in a tradesperson, which is a) proficiency and b) qualifications. Price and amiability come somewhat lower down the list.

    Maybe one of the problems I have is this: There's nothing wrong with my house. There is, quite literally, nothing dangerous or faulty or unreliable about my home. Which was built in the last eight years by a very well respected UK homebuilder. It's just that, from my perspective, it's lacking a few details. The shocking lack of storage space I was able to solve myself. A well-respected garage-door installer solved another problem. As did Harvey Water Softeners. And the fellow who installed the block paving in my driveway. After, literally, a half-dozen failed attempts to achieve a satisfactory offer-acceptance process from the paving contractors who expressed varying levels of interest in the job.

    I don't need an unqualified handyman. I'm willing and able to pay for qualified professionals to do the jobs I can't do myself.

    Is that so much to ask?
    Kitfit and candoabitofmoststuff like this.
  9. Ind spark

    Ind spark Screwfix Select

    When I said one man band I didn't mean get the bloke that works in Tescos to rewire your house, there's plenty of people about doing little jobs, I save all mine up and make a day of them.
    John the plumber31 and WeCanDoIt like this.
  10. WeCanDoIt

    WeCanDoIt Member

    I don’t understand why people come to quote, and don’t quote…..

    For example I wanted a camera install, gave details of the cameras, my address so they could see outside etc, spent 20 mins at my house and travel…. And no quote.

    Same with window cleaner guy. For a start, why do you need to come to quote for window cleaning when you have Google maps, secondly, why not quote on the phone.
  11. Wilwong1971

    Wilwong1971 New Member

    I feel your pain, I'm getting the same issues getting even jobs quoted at the moment, I have a spreadsheet full of recommended builders off forums and :

    1) They ignore your calls / email or Messenger
    2) They visit but never call back
    3) No quote as a result (or they give you a quote after one exchange of email
    4) Or they visit and come back to tell you they are bust till next year so can'y quote

    Shame I'm hopeless at DIY, but to the point I thinking of actually self teach myself to do it... (totally not ideal, likely will break my house!)
  12. chesterw

    chesterw Well-Known Member

    I did a job for a mate, went round his business to get paid and his business partner paid me, they gave me almost full time employment and there was mutual trust.

    I realised latter the mate I did the job for was being very offish with me, so I asked another mate to find out why, answer came back he's paid you to do a job but you haven't done the job.

    So I subtly asked him if he was pleased with the job I did for him, and he said I hadn't done it yet, I said of course I've done it have you actually looked? No he said. So I said why haven't you looked, he said because there was no mess - that's how I know, and I explained there was a mess but I cleaned it all up - so you can't win with some people.
    WeCanDoIt likes this.
  13. chesterw

    chesterw Well-Known Member

    I had a guy come round to price a job, it was about an hours work. He spent 2 hours rabbiting on about everything under the sun - I deliberately didn't offer him a cuppa - so eventually I said how much, he says I'll have to get back to you. Next bloke came round and said he would do it straight away - all sorted. About two weeks later the first bloke gets in touch wants 4 times what I'd already paid and didn't know what day or date - :rolleyes:
    WeCanDoIt likes this.
  14. Ind spark

    Ind spark Screwfix Select

    Don't ruin it for the rest of us;)
  15. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Decent people are all busy. **** ones are too. Find someone on recommendation. Expect to pay over the odds and expect to wait until they can fit you in. That’s the reality at the moment. At least round my way. Existing clients will always get their extra jobs squeezed in somehow which makes it even more difficult for any new clients.

    I’m always honest on day one when I look at a job. It’s either a long wait or accept very little notice if I get a gap. Most are happy with that.
    WeCanDoIt likes this.
  16. NJ Rider

    NJ Rider Member

    I'm told it's because of covid. Many people have been locked in their homes for two years and now realise their homes really need a make over. I have spent the past 6 months trying to get tradesmen for jobs. Basically doing the bulk of the work myself. Was told by a fairly large building company they could fit us in in two to three years time and that seems to be the case for most builders in my neck of the woods.

    Thankfully most my family were tradesmen and I picked up a lot of skills growing up on summer jobs. Unless it's something that requires certification like gas or electric I will have a crack at doing it myself.
  17. Cris 11

    Cris 11 Active Member

    They all left when we had Brexit, gone back to Poland or wherever.
  18. candoabitofmoststuff

    candoabitofmoststuff Screwfix Select

    Well the good thing is...
    The folk that have said they'd quote and then didn't, and the folk that said they'd turn up and didn't...
    You wouldn't want to use them anyway, so perhaps you've had a lucky escape!
    Good luck with it all,
    FUNDIMOLD likes this.
  19. WeCanDoIt

    WeCanDoIt Member

    Why have people been locked in their homes?
    Lockdown started March 2020. It didn’t end March 2022.
  20. WeCanDoIt

    WeCanDoIt Member

    When they had all the rights to live here? Sounds weird.

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