Friday 10th June will be the 8th Open Day that Checkatrade will sees a return to Suffolk, the first partnership, for a celebration of Consumer Protection. Local traders, consumer champions and protection agencies will all be there, as well as a local resident who fell victim to a rogue trader.
Checkatrade has long been committed to the protection of consumers and support for reliable, trustworthy tradespeople and businesses, so they are delighted to work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities up and down the country to provide Approved Trader Schemes with the aim of solving, once and for all, the UK’s rogue trader problem.
Checkatrade also uses these partnerships to establish ‘fighting funds’ used to clear up the mess often left behind by unscrupulous tradespeople and it was with great relief that one unfortunate disabled homeowner was recently able to turn to Checkatrade having fallen victim to a Suffolk rogue.
After the all stress and anxiety of her ordeal, access to the Checkatrade ‘fighting fund’ has spared this vulnerable consumer, and her 90 year old father, further heartache, inconvenience and expense.
Suffolk resident Val knew she needed to deal with a tree and its roots that were affecting her driveway, so, when she received an unsolicited email from a firm that said they specialised in such areas, she was happy to explore the possibilities. Like so many unlucky consumers, little did she realise she was making a costly mistake.
Having received a reasonable quote and having done the right thing and looked into the firm’s background using an unnamed trusted trader resource, Val engaged the trader and looked forward to work commencing.
Unfortunately, the firm failed to show up on the agreed Monday and, as her anxiety grew, Val received no reply all week to her increasingly desperate calls, texts and emails. It wasn’t until the following Saturday that she received a call but the trader told her he had underestimated the job and that the price would now have to double.
The alarms bells rang immediately but the original quote had been competitive and Val, having committed to the work, wanted to get the job done. Like too many people in the same situation, she mistakenly trusted what she thought was a group of reputable professionals and reluctantly agreed to the work. But her problems had only just begun.
The firm this time showed up at the appointed time but Val was surprised to see how ill-equipped they were to carry out the task. Told that hundreds of existing bricks on the drive needed to be cleaned, she was so shocked that the team was armed only with a bucket and scrubbing brush she lent them her pressure washer.
The subject of driveway drainage had never been broached in all her conversations with the trader but Val was soon informed she needed extensive drainage to ensure the job was completed. Less than half an hour later, she was presented with an exorbitant extra £310 bill for drainage materials and sand.
Next came the wall adjacent to the drive. It was also compromised somewhat by the tree and she had been told it would cost her £800 to be fixed. When it came to it, that was only for what was termed a “bodged job” and that a “proper” solution would set her back another £1300.
Looking at the prospect of hundreds of extra pounds of unexpected expense, Val felt exposed. Understandably, she wanted the work to be completed satisfactorily but was now under real pressure to come up with the ‘necessary’ funds. She was even very nearly forced to borrow money from her worried 90-year-old father to pay for the work and was visibly affected by things that a concerned friend asked her what was wrong.
Her horrified friend contacted the Citizens’ Advice Bureau who immediately pointed her in the direction of her local Trading Standards Authority in the hope of resolving the issue. In the meantime, however, the rogue traders began to pester her for cash, demanding payment in a menacing fashion from a vulnerable, disabled lady.
Luckily, Trading Standards were on the case and made a timely intervention, accompanied by members of the Suffolk Constabulary, when the traders, all of a sudden five burly men rather than just three, paid her an intimidating visit. This unpleasant event ended in the arrest of the firm’s boss.
Val, saved by the authorities from an extremely harrowing experience, was still left with an unfinished driveway and hundreds of bricks piled up outside her home. At this point, alerted to Val’s predicament by Trading Standards, Checkatrade stepped in.
Finding Val a reputable, qualified trader, Checkatrade dipped into the ‘fighting fund’ and spared her even more expense and brought this awful series of events to a satisfactory conclusion.
Senior Trading Standards Officer Tony Doorley said “I got in touch with Checkatrade, who found her a fully vetted and trusted trader who offered her a quote that he would stick to, before carrying out the job to a high standard.”
Tales like this, of unsuspecting members of the public being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people trying to make a fast and easy buck are all too familiar. Checkatrade works hard to provide consumers with the information they need to engage reputable traders and leave no stone unturned in their quest to eradicate Britain’s rogue trader problem.
For more information about the awareness of rogue traders please visit www.checkatrade.com.
Having a new kitchen is an expensive investment, so getting the design & layout right is huge. You can get plenty of free professional advice to help with this from kitchen show room designers or tradesmen quoting to renovate your kitchen. However, with all the experience and advice they can offer you, one thing they may not bring to the table is how to protect your new investment “long term”!
A new kitchen should serve you for around 20 years, but in that time trends and styles will change, a style which is sort after now may well look dated in 5 years time, and after all the money spent, do you really want to be stuck with a dated looking kitchen for a further 15 years?
Now I’m not trying to upsell you on “a neutral design”, I’m a big fan of kitchens with personality and I admire people with the gumption to make bold design choices, the point here is to protect your investment (your new kitchen) in the long term. When the time comes that your new kitchen starts to looks dated, wouldn’t it be great if on a very small budget and little to no professional help you could update and refresh the look of your kitchen! Well you can, all you have to do is be prepared for this within your original design! Add features and colours in easily changeable areas of the kitchen, if you commit to Plum coloured units or bright red tiles (not together of course) these are very permanent parts of the kitchen which would require professional help and be costly change. Use Neutral colours for the more permanent areas of the kitchen such as units, worktops and tiles and explore your adventurous side in the 5 areas I have laid out below. Each of the 5 areas below can be refreshed or updated by a competent DIYer, they’ll have a large impact on the design and can be changed on a very small budge.
Use bold colour paints or designer wall paper to give your kitchen an impacting backdrop. You can easily change this down the line for very little cost so be as adventurous as you dare!
The right shelves can be a statement on there own, use them as a platform to dress up or down your kitchen with some charismatic items. whether its cookbooks, pots & pans, glass storage jars or plants, display whatever takes your fancy and simply change it as it loses its appeal!
Whether your opting for one accent colour or half the colours of the rainbow, accessories are the easiest way to achieve this, use tea towels, tea & coffee pots, vintage tins, spice racks even a bread bin to add personality to your kitchen.
Worktop Appliances & kitchen Tools
Worktop appliances such as Kettles & toasters and kitchen tools such as a knife block, utensils rack or pot & pans, these are all available in an array of shape and sizes along with the option of bright colours as well as the more traditional stainless steel and Copper. Use these to dress up neutral work surfaces or open shelves.
The last area is flooring, depending on which material you choose as flooring this may be one of the more expensive areas to change, although it can be worth it. No matter how large or small your kitchen floor area is, the colour will have a big effect on the overall design, so in pro rata changing it will have a big effect also. Bear in mind it will be costlier to change a tiled floor compared to laminated or vinyl flooring and prepare yourself for this in your initial design.
To summarise, don’t enter your new kitchen project with the glum and negative out look that your new kitchen will at some point once again look dated, enjoy the design process and express yourselves, just be aware that the inevitable fact of styles changing will happen and be prepared! Don’t “play it safe” “play it long term”, have fun with your design, be strategic and yield the best return on your investment.
Enjoy your Kitchen
Did you know Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safety and legally on gas appliances? Always check your engineer is on the Gas Safe Register and check their ID card. It’s the only way to keep your family safe.
In the right hands gas is safe, but in the wrong hands badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can be deadly and can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas, you can’t see, taste or smell it, but it can kill quickly without warning.
With hundreds of thousands of illegal gas jobs being carried out every year in the UK, people are putting the safety of their families in the hands of people they don’t really know and whose competencies they certainly haven’t checked. We’re seeing far too many people prioritise cost over safety when hiring a tradesman. To find a reliable, trustworthy tradesman in your area visit www.checkatrade.com
We are therefore urging people to trust the triangle. Look for the triangular Gas Safe Register logo on your gas engineer’s ID card. It’s also really important to get appliances safety checked every year by an engineer who is qualified and Gas Safe registered. All Gas Safe registered engineers have a list of the work they are registered to do on the back of their ID card.
Top tips for gas safety
- Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix or service your gas appliances
- Find or check a Gas Safe registered engineer by visiting GasSafeRegister.co.uk or calling 0800 408 5500
- Get your gas appliances regularly serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Always check your engineers Gas Safe ID card. Check your engineer is qualified for the work you need doing – you can find this information on the back of their ID card.
- Remember the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning; headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.
If you rent your home, by law, your landlord must maintain each gas appliance they provide for your use and have them safety checked once a year. To prove this has been done, your landlord must give you a copy of the Landlord’s Gas Safety Record.
For more information visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or phone 0800 408 5500. We’re here to help you make the right choices when it comes to you and your family’s gas safety.
If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak or a leak of fumes: turn off the gas at the meter, put out naked flames, open windows and immediately call the gas emergency number for your area:
- Great Britain 0800 111 999
- Northern Ireland 0800 002 001
- Isle of Man 0808 1624 444
- Guernsey 01481 749000
- Jersey 01534 755555
- For LPG contact your LPG supplier.
Gas Safe Register
We came across Checkatrade by complete accident 5 years ago when we received a quote request in error. The enquiry was for a company with a similar name in a different part of the country. We then thought ” if it can work for them, then it can work for us”.
We know that you can’t beat word of mouth and Checkatrade is the perfect platform for us to get our business out there. To us, being on Checkatrade means there is never a job, a quote or even a phone call where we don’t have to be at our best. It helps us maintain the best possible standards we can. We are all too aware how quickly a good reputation can change and we are always looking for ways to improve.
We can see in real terms the number of customers happy to rate and comment on their experience with us and hopefully encourage others to use us in the future. We are striving to make a difference in how our industry is perceived and, although nobody’s perfect, we aim to continue stacking up the positive reviews.
We have reached the milestone of 1000 now and to have kept the average score so high, just proves how passionate and hard working the team here have been. Even when things don’t go to plan, its assuring to know that the resolution process is fair for both the customer and ourselves.
Any negative feedback is highlighted by Checkatrade and we are given a set amount of time to resolve any issues before it is posted on our profile. This is beneficial to both parties as it encourages dialogue and action. Checkatrade has been an excellent lead source for us with customers being able to check out our reviews, see the before and after pictures of our work and feel assured they are dealing with a quality company.
It’s been great to see Checkatrade’s re-investment in us and all the companies on their site. Their high profile advertising has made them into a household name and something we are proud to be a part of.
Director, Homeglaze Home Improvements
Find us on Checkatrade at: http://www.checkatrade.com/HomeglazeHomeImprovements/
Checkatrade.com founder and CEO, Kevin Byrne shared his successful story as one of the leading entrepreneurs at the Acumen Business Convention on the 10th May.
The networking event which was held at the Grand Hotel, Brighton marked the seventh year of the prestigious event and saw over 250 CEO’s, MD’s and decision makers all in attendance for both networking and outstanding speaking.
Having most notably won the London and South East Director of the Year Award, Kevin was keen to share his experience with others. The CEO discussed how he took an idea with no investment to a business turnover of £16million that generates a £2.7 billion a year for all of the trades on-board.
Kevin commented on his achievement;
“This was a great evening and I was extremely pleased to speak about my success story with like-minded individuals. My story is very unique and it is great to share with others on how to build the right company culture and how to drive a business.”
The evening also saw Founder of Cobra Beer, Karan Bilimoria, Author of Brand Famous, Linzi Boyd and Founder of Acumen Business Law, Penina Shepherd all sharing their business stories.
Guests at the Acumen Business Convention were treated to a three course lunch, public speaking and two interactive workshops.
Checkatrade is a free, online service that is dedicated to helping you find the right trade or service. With over 25 per cent of UK households using Checkatrade, they ensure that their tradespeople are fully vetted before they become a member of Checkatrade and once they join, members agree to have feedback from their customers put online for all to say. Checkatrade has gained over 2 million reviews of tradespeople to date.
For more information about Checkatrade or to find the perfect tradesperson for you, visit www.checkatrade.com.
Find this article on the Building Construction Design website – http://www.buildingconstructiondesign.co.uk/news/successful-event-for-checkatrade-founder/
Checkatrade member Heritage Roofing & Renovation Ltd is pleased to be the first contractor to complete a full roof refurbishment under ONE Warranty and feature within the Insight Magazine!
Insight from SIG roofing Magazine is the UK’s largest merchant roofing related products and services, SIG Roofing supply industry leading products whilst delivering a quality service to our valued customers. Established for over 40 years – with branches throughout the UK from Inverness to Plymouth, we are committed to supporting the industry with a wealth of roofing knowledge and experience.
Heritage Roofing and Renovation Ltd CEO and Founder John Hilden has over 25 years of experience in both the domestic and commercial sector. His company covers all aspects of roofing and renovation! Find out more about what they do at: http://www.heritageroofingrenovation.com/about-us/
See below the article that was within the magazine. You can find Heritage Roofing on Checkatrade at: http://www.checkatrade.com/HeritageRoofingAndRenovationLtd/
In the month of April 2016, Checkatrade member Gem Building Specialists Ltd were approached by a customer in Worthing, West Sussex to rebuild a Bay Window that had been damaged by the replacement of the windows to new double glazed window frames by another company.
Gem Building Specialists Ltd supplied structural strong boys to support the window lintels during the window replacements as part of ongoing work for the customer that they had been doing up to that date. Before the windows replaced, the rendering was stripped off to reveal a sandstone support.
Gem Building Specialists Ltd then removed the sandstone pillars and used structural strong boys to support the lintels. Once the bay windows had been replaced, Gem Building Specialist’s Bricklayer then custom cut and formed the new blocks to the exact angles of the bay and window units.
This took time and precision but with skills and patience Gem Specialists were able to do cut the new blocks to high professional quality as shown completed in the photo above.
The pillars were then fully built and then rendered and left to dry before they were painted as you can see in the photos below.
This concludes this blog entry for Gem Building Specialists. These images and more can be seen on Gem Building Specialists Ltd Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/GemBuildingSpecialistsLimited/
If you would like to have a chat with the friendly office staff about any building or related work that you would like to have done or have coming up, then they can be contacted on 01903 254743 Mon-Fri between 7am and 5pm. All voicemails are returned so if you cannot get through to a staff member, please leave a voicemail!
Be sure to visit them directly on Checkatrade at: http://www.checkatrade.com/GemBuildingSpecialists/
or on their website: www.gembuildingspecialists.co.uk
Joseph Valente – ‘The Apprentice’
Winner 2015 will be at PHEX+ exhibition at Alexandra Palace
on Wednesday 18th May 2016 10am-4pm
Checkatrade member Joseph will be spending some time walking around the event, meeting key suppliers and chatting to installers and contractors. He will be hosting a seminar covering his time on The Apprentice, his business, experiences in the industry and apprenticeships.
Checkatrade will also be at the event on stand 7, this is your chance to talk to us and ask any questions you may have!
The event will be on Wednesday 18th May & Thursday 18th May 10am – 2pm.
PHEX+, Alexandra Palace is the largest dedicated installer and contractor exhibition in London Successfully run for over 21 years, PHEX+ returns to Alexandra Palace this May and promises to be the largest UK installer event staged anywhere this year! With around 100 leading manufacturers, suppliers and trade associations in attendance, PHEX+ is the only place that will truly showcase all the latest products and innovations that are available for the domestic and commercial sector. Whether you specify, install or maintain central heating systems, underfloor heating, sanitary ware, renewable technology or commercial projects, PHEX+ will offer you an unrivalled look at the best our sector has to offer and help you plan your future growth.
PHEX+ will be everything that you’ve come to expect from PHEX, PLUS much more:
+ Over 90% of the UK’s boiler manufacturers will be on hand to discuss their latest products and training
+ 35 new product launches will be demonstrated at the event
+ 25 NEW exhibitors will be in attendance for the first time at PHEX
+ 1,500 free parking spaces available at the venue
+ Discounts, special show offers & giveaways galore
+ Arrive before 11am and enjoy a bacon roll – the perfect way to start the day
+ FREE training seminar in conjunction with industry partners such as Gas Safe Register, CIPHE, Worcester Bosch, Energy Saving Trust, Wavin and more
Join us to celebrate the BEST that our industry has to offer. Registration is FREE to the trade.
I’ve seen a lot of these big renovation projects on programmes over the years and by no means did all of them go to plan! But at least back in the 1990s there were lots of properties that were in need of updating and, because it was generally only first time buyers or builders who wanted to buy them, they often got them at a bargain price.
However, in the years since property make-over TV shows boomed, things have changed. I find many people these days who are desperate to do a property up end up overpaying for it because there’s just so little of that kind of stock on the market. And in far too many cases, they pay more than the property would be worth even after the upgrade.
So if you want to make money from doing a big refurb or are hoping it’s a ‘cheap’ way onto the ladder, you’ll need a lot of luck – unless you can afford to buy a real wreck for 100% cash, which reduces buyer competition.
All that being said, if you do still want to pursue your dreams of turning a dreary, unloved property into a beautiful home, then the first place to start is to really understand how the property is built and whether it’s structurally safe. Depending on the age of your property, this could be done via an RPSA qualified surveyor (www.checkaprofessional.com), who will give you an idea of the property’s condition and what needs doing, when. If you need to have a valuation of the property as well, consider a RICS HomeBuyer Report and if it’s a big old house or one that is just normal brick construction, then upgrade to a RICS Building Survey, which will give details of defects, repairs and likely on-going maintenance. Some building surveyors have also helped me understand potential costs involved in fixing problems or carrying out major works.
Once you have a good idea of the property’s condition, it’s also wise to get gas and electrical surveys. Make sure you use a Gas Safe Engineer and an electrician who is ‘Part P’ registered.
Personally, I wouldn’t exchange on a property unless I’d had those three things carried out: an individual property survey that I’d instructed myself (i.e. not just a lender’s valuation) and gas and electrical checks – especially if I was buying a wreck. There are just too many things that can hide behind walls or under floors that can cost a fortune if you don’t have them checked out, over and above obvious signs of things like damp and mould.
Next it’s about budgeting for other essentials, such as whether to repair or purchase new windows, roofing and flooring and, in this day and age of increasing utility prices, looking at what you can do to make the property more energy efficient.
Finally, it’s the job most people start with – but I’m afraid it must come last – and that’s what you spend on a kitchen, bathroom, decorating and furnishings. My advice here is not to spend a fortune on these initially, just in case any hidden problems come to light post-refurb and you have to rip everything out a few years later because the roof leaks or there is damp and mould invading your newly-decorated walls.
But hopefully, if you instruct thorough surveys and checks before you start and make sure all the renovation and refurbishment works are carried out properly, there’ll be no need for any of that ripping out! Take your time, budget carefully and don’t cut corners.
Need more help on finding your wreck and renovation experts to help you? Visit Checkatrade.com
Designs on Property Ltd
A Derby brickwork boss has been invited to Westminster to showcase his apprentices to the Housing Minister MP’s, and the UK’s leading house-builders on the future of Britain’s construction industry.
From a recent Checkatrade member survey 33% of respondents said they would consider taking on an apprentice. To show Checkatrade’s support for this, MD Gavin Dutton will be attending the event on May 3rd 2016.
The Building Britain’s Future event will showcase bricklaying skills by apprentices building a wall in front of Big Ben, on Speakers Green within the Parliamentary estate on May 3rd. This will be the first time an event of this type will have taken place in Parliament.
The culmination of this event will be a reception in Westminster that will be addressed by both Amanda Solloway MP and Ian Hodgkinson but will also include speeches from Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP and the Minister for Apprenticeships, Nick Boles MP.
Ian, who founded his successful bricklaying business in 1990, set up his own brickwork academy last year, and is going to expand on the what he has already started with a National Construction Academy (NCA). This will be is a stand-alone academy that will be rolled out across Britain to help build the 250000 houses this country badly needs.
It will be unique in that way it will be set up, it will include intensive training and be influenced by one of the industry’s leading brickwork specialists. It’s goes to show what can be done working closely with employers and the academy to train up our country’s school leavers and get them building.
Ian Hodgkinson has worked on many TV shows and recently helped Nick Knowles and BBC’s DIYSOS build a whole street with his Academy Students.
Ian said “It’s the perception of a bricklayer’s career that needs changing, construction has great prospects, safe working conditions, great earning potential, I have made a big bold promise to youngsters who join my academy that they could be earning £1,000 a week within five years if they work at it. We just need to show youngsters that there is an alternative to university and building is excellent career to have with so many possibilities.
Ian added: “I am absolutely delighted to have been invited to Westminster and would like to thank Amanda Solloway MP for having the vision to help get my message out that bricklaying is the career of choice and with the my New National Construction Academy and opportunities such as this, we are absolutely confident that we can show young people how rewarding a career in bricklaying can be.”
Recognising the need to attract young people into the industry, trade vetting service Checkatrade encourages young aspiring tradespeople to consider an apprenticeship with their members. With over 95% of Checkatrade’s members anticipating a greater workload in 2016 and 62% of members expecting to create jobs in the near future, it is a very exciting time for aspiring apprentices.
Checkatrade and Trading Standards Approved member Mike Cipriani from Gas Secure Ltd, Mansfield said: “Our apprentice has just finished his third year and he has never had a day off sick. He is now able to undertake 90% of install work by himself with supervision. From day one we ensured that he was treated as a trainee and he has responded with an incredibly positive attitude.”
Craig Phillips, TV personality, DIY and construction expert and ambassador for Checkatrade said: “If you’re an aspiring tradesperson, I really do recommend considering an apprenticeship with a member of Checkatrade. You can rest assured that you are working for a decent, vetted employer which will be so important to your growth and development.”
Recent figures released from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) highlighted that the current skills shortage within bricklaying and quantity surveying was at its shortest supply level since 1998.
Amanda Solloway MP for Derby North said “This is such a fantastic opportunity to promote bricklaying as a genuine and credible choice for young people to undertake as a career. There certainly needs to be more effort in encouraging the uptake of bricklaying from apprenticeship level and that begins with altering and improving the perception of the industry.
“Bricklaying can be an incredibly rewarding career both from a job satisfaction and financial perspective and can lead to all manner of possibilities for career progression. We have to show that vocational careers have equal weighting to those that are more academic. Ian certainly has the enthusiasm and experience to champion this campaign and I will certainly do all I can to help”.
For more information, please visit www.bricklayers.com