How to avoid conflict with tradespeople

We all get on better if we treat each other as professionals. Tradespeople are no different.

The best way to avoid conflict with tradespeople is to use HomeForce accredited tradespeople. But that’s not always possible. In any event we hope  this guide helps.

The reputation of tradespeople is of being poor communicators, not doing what they say they will and paying little attention to customer service.

HomeForce help tradespeople provide a level of customer service and professionalism that, we believe, homeowners should reasonably expect.

However, the following recommendations are for property owners who want to actively avoid conflict with tradespeople whether they source them through HomeForce or not. .

By approaching the tradespeople / homeowner relationship from “both ends” we hope to help avoid conflicts between tradespeople and customers. Conflict wastes everyone’s time.

Understand what charges will be made

  • We don’t mean “always get a quote”
  • Sometimes – for example “trace and repair” jobs – it’s not possible to quote because it’s impossible to tell what needs done before investigative work is done. (See “Why Trades People Charge for Diagnosis” for more).
  • This doesn’t mean a tradesperson cannot not make an educated guess or, at least, say what rate they charge for their time.
  • Tradespeople should explain how they will charge before starting work. We’d suggest customers should also ask if it is not made clear.
  • Note that anyone making “call out charges” (i.e. a charge for travelling to a job) need to declare this at the first contact with a customer.
  • Avoiding conflict with tradespeople is a two way task, customers should ask and tradespeople should be willing to answer.

Check quotes for the detail / description

  • Don’t just look at the cost. Ensure a quote or estimate includes all the work and materials you expect.
  • The principal of Caveat Emptor applies to the purchase of services as well as tangible items.
  • Customers do have a responsibility to satisfy themselves that what they are buying from a tradesperson is what they want / expect.
  • Also quotes from different tradespeople can’t be compared on a like for like basis if the details aren’t checked.
  • If it’s not on the quote / estimate then extra may be charged.

Respect a tradesperson’s time

  • Tradespeople, especially good ones, are always busy. It’s why it’s so hard to find one.
  • If they suspect someone is going to waste their time (such as asking for a quote when they have no intention of proceeding with work) they will ignore them.
  • If a ball park cost is all that’s needed, don’t ask for a quote. It’s quicker to look it up online anyway.
  • Don’t take it personally when a tradesperson can’t drop everything to tend to a job for you. If they do that they are perhaps letting another customer down.

Don’t add tasks

  • “While you are here would you mind just…”
  • It’s not that tradespeople mind doing it but it makes them wary that customers expect the extra task to be done for no extra charge.
  • It can also have a knock-on effect to the tradesperson’s schedule making them late, and so “unreliable”, for the next customer.
  • We all hate when a tradesperson is late but we don’t consider that it may be because they were trying to please the customer before. Don’t be the customer that causes conflict with a tradesperson for the next customer….just book another appointment.

Treat a tradesperson as you’d like to be treated yourself

  • It’s a maxim as old as time, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” for avoiding conflict.
  • When you need to change an appointment give as much notice as possible.
  • If you decide not to proceed with work or use another tradesperson inform those you have asked to quote.

If it’s not working out call it quits (sooner rather than later)

  • We don’t mean just throw a tradesperson off the job. This may breach the contract which can have consequences (Read more here):
    • Call a halt to work
    • Discuss the issues
    • Give the opportunity for them to put it right within an agreed timescale
    • Agree consequences if not put right (in time scale)
  • Remain professional and don’t become emotional
  • Don’t expect to pay nothing for what has been done. Agree what will be paid as part of the consequences.
  • If needs be, call in a mediator.

Don’t let price be your only driver

  • As the 19th Century Philosopher and Social Thinker John Ruskin said: “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only, are this man’s lawful prey”.
  • If price is the only factor you consider then you exponentially increase the likelihood of a conflict with a tradesperson

Take the first step to avoiding conflict with tradespeople: