Read Our Tips On How To Find A Good Plasterer
How to Find A Good Plasterer
My name is Neil Price and I am a qualified plasterer and owner of P3 Plastering.
I have been a plasterer for over 30 years and maybe I am getting old now but I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the amount of people that still appear to be falling victim to rogue traders or paying for poor unsatisfactory plastering work when there are so many good quality plasterers out there to choose from.
If only they knew how to find a good plasterer the bad guys wouldn't have had a look in.
So I have decided to write this guide in the hope that it helps those who read it avoid becoming yet another unsuspecting victim.
Ok so you know you need a plasterer what is the first thing you should do?
Without doubt the best way to find any tradesman is by “word of mouth”. Get a recommendation from a trusted source, ask around friends, family and neighbours. Usually someone knows someone that has done a good job for someone else in the past.
If this is not possible then you should read on ....
Don’t Take Adverts At Face Value
This is where I find most people make the first mistake.
Finding a plasterer's advert is easy. They are everywhere on the internet, telephone directories and local papers but finding an advert that says “I carry out plastering services” is not going to guarantee you a good plasterer.
The first thing to be aware of is that the plastering industry is not regulated as is the case with many other trades and services.
This means that anyone can offer a plastering service whether they are a trained plasterer or not.
They would not be breaking any law just by advertising for the work if they think they can do it. Problems occur when their idea of what plastering should look like is not quite the same as everyone elses. So by the time you find out they are not professional plasterers at all it is too late and they have left you with a mess. Even if you haven't paid them for the poor work you will now have to pay to put it right which is likely to end up costing more than it should have originally.
When looking at these adverts remember there are 3 types of plasterer. Each one of them will be calling themselves a plasterer and advertising plastering services.
1. Good Quality Professional Plasterers
Thankfully the majority of plasterers advertising their services are good honest experienced people. Although it is not an industry requirement many will have an NVQ qualification in plastering. This qualification has become more common in recent years as most commercial building sites require it but not all plasterers have one. Particularly if they have never had to work on a commercial building site so not having one does not mean to say they are not good plasterers.
Plastering is a skill that is built up with practice over time so the main thing that all professional plasterers have in common is that they will have had many years experience in the plastering trade.
They will have built up a reputation for their quality work and be properly insured. They will also be able to show you examples of their work and provide you with references from real people who you can contact.
2. Inexperienced Plasterers
These people are plasterers but they need more experience working with professional plasterers before they go it alone. Everyone has to start somewhere and the plastering industry will always need new trainees coming up through the ranks.
In addition to plastering apprenticeships which are suitable for 18 to 21 year olds there are also tradesman training schemes being operated throughout the UK. Some of these courses promise that people will become plasterers after completing one of their courses which can last for as little as 6 weeks.
Whilst these courses have their place the statements are very misleading. They do offer some sort of qualification at the end of the course but none of the plasterers who have established themselves in the industry afterwards did so immediately. They have all needed a lot more experience working along side experienced plasterers for a good few years.
So please be aware that a qualification in plastering is not everything it is experience in the trade that is the main factor.
So how do you tell if the plasterer is experienced?
Even the best inexperienced plasterers will take much longer than experienced ones to carry out the job. They will either need more people to do the work in the same amount of time as an experienced plasterer, or it will take them longer to complete.
Inexperienced plasterers have also not built up enough skill to be in a position to deal with unexpected challenges that can sometimes arise. So when you get a quote also ask how long the job is likely to take and how many plasterers will be involved. You can then compare them against the other quotes and maybe some alarm bells will ring.
3. Rogue Traders, Cowboy Builders, Con Men.
Thankfully these people are in their minority within the building trade but they are around and the plastering industry has their fair share of them too.
Please try not to fall victim to one of them. These people are not bothered whether they do a good job or not. They have no conscience they simply want your money. They often ask for a lot of money up front and either do a very bad job or don't turn up at all. They are unlikely to have any insurance and will be oblivious to any building regulations that may apply.
If you have fallen foul to a rogue tradesman already then report them to your local trading standards office. The more people who report them the more help trading standards can be.
The quoted price
This is the second biggest mistake people tend to make when choosing a plasterer. We all like a bargain but very cheap is never good quality unless you are buying a genuine branded item in a sale from a genuine trusted retailer.
Plastering is a skill that also has a market value so unless it's a genuine special offer the tradesman is offering from a normally higher price then going for the cheaper option in the building trade will nearly always end in tears.
Just like the branded item if its not on sale from a trusted source you are likely to be getting that poor quality copy instead. You really do need to be realistic and expect to get what you pay for.
People selling the service at a ridiculously cheap price are not professional quality skilled plasterers. They are either the inexperienced plasterer, a DIY enthusiast or a rogue tradesman. So if you want cheap and are willing to take the risk then you have been warned.
You should also be wary of day rates. Remember that an inexperienced plasterer will take a lot longer to do the same job as an experienced one. Whilst that day rate may sound tempting at the time of the quote when it takes them 3 times as long to complete the job it becomes a little less attractive. Always get a price for completion of the job rather than a price per day that way you can accurately compare it. At the very least ask how long it's going to take and get it writing what the maximum price will be no matter how long it actually does take them.
Expensive is not always good either so check that there isn't a middle man involved. There are quite a lot of companies advertising plastering services when they are not really plasterers themselves. They get you to provide them with details of the job you want doing and then sell the information on as a lead to plasterers using their services to find them work. The middle man needs paying of course so the cost is indirectly passed on to you through an over inflated quote. Some of the larger companies involved in this rely on a feedback system expecting other customers to comment whether they have had a good job done or not. Not all do and the middle man doesn't know if the plasterer is any good or care in some cases. They are simply marketing the services for those that are willing to pay for their leads.
Apart from the extreme high and low prices discussed above the majority of plasterers prices tend to be very competitive and close to each other so 3 quotes should be sufficient unless there are any silly swings towards the cheap or expensive side.
Providing all the other boxes on your check list are ticked then just go with a price and obviously a plastering company you feel comfortable with after meeting them.
Terms and Conditions
One final point I should mention here is Terms and Conditions. If you are issued with any please read them before you agree for the work to start.
They are not normally a bad thing. Reputable companies issue them as part of the contract documentation to ensure that everyone is clear upon what has been agreed between them. You need to read them and get anything amended that is incorrect before the work starts. That way you will avoid any confusion, misunderstanding or expensive disputes that failure to read them may result in at a later date.
So now you should know how to find a good plasterer.
Here is a summary of the tips which you can use as your check list.
Get a recommendation from a reliable source. Ask friends, family and neighbours if they know of a good plasterer.
Don't take adverts at face value, get about 3 different quotes and ask each of them the following questions.
How long have they been plastering?
How long will it take to do?
How many plasterers will it take?
Are they able to provide examples of their work?
Are they insured and can they produce a certificate?
Can they provide references?
What is their guarantee?
In particular please don't use tradesmen calling themselves plasterers if they have not served at least 4 years in the industry. That means working full time plastering on a daily basis. If someone did a plastering course 4 years ago and have just done the odd bits since then they are not going to have acquired sufficient skill to be professional.
Also be aware of tradesmen offering other DIY type services as well as plastering as they are unlikely to be professional plasterers if they have time to do other types of work as well. You have heard the saying "Jack of all trades master of none". Professional standard plastering is not a skill that can be shared with another trade. To maintain their speed and quality finish a plasterer has to be plastering full time on a daily basis.
If you are given references don't be afraid to follow them up. A true tradesman proud of his work will be happy to put you in touch with former customers.
Research their business online. Have any reviews been made about them and their service on forums etc.If in doubt check with trading standards to see if the tradesman has ever been reported to them previously.
Don't let price be the deciding factor on it’s own look at the bigger picture. Don't go cheap and be wary of very expensive too.
Be careful of using some third party middle men companies. They have a lot of inexperienced plasterers registered with them as they do not have any plastering history themselves to have built up a regular source of work they need to be fed leads from these type of lead generating companies. If you do decide to use one make sure it's one of the more well known ones and check out the plasterer's feedback. Using a plasterer from this source should not replace the due diligence checks mentioned above as feedback such as this can easily be faked.
In the majority of cases you should not be asked to pay a deposit to a plasterer and if you are it should never exceed 20% of the whole job. So before you hand over any money make sure you are happy with everything discussed above and don’t be afraid to stop them part way through and ask them to leave if you feel that the job is not being carried out to standard.
Always read contract documentation and terms and conditions and don't be afraid to ask for it to be amended if there is anything in it that is not correct.
So thats it now you should know how to find a good plasterer. I hope I have been helpful but please feel free to contact me if you have any questions I will be happy to help.