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Finding good tradesmen

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If you elect to rent your property through a letting agent on a full service agency agreement, most of your problems of finding good tradesmen are solved because the agent will handle this for you. However it is an expensive option and these tips are for those landlords that either choose a let only agency agreement or choose to let their property privately.


If you are using one, ask your letting agent
If you are using an agent on a let only basis and have a reasonably good relationship with them, it's a good idea to ask for a few recommendations of reliable plumbers and electricians. When you call the tradesmen mention that you are a client of the particular letting agents and they have recommended them.

Get estimates
Always get estimates of course but bear in mind that it is often very difficult for builders to give a really fixed price for maintenance and repairs. Be wary of tradesmen that quote a low fixed amount often this will be revised by them once they turn up, claiming (actually quite rightly) that they could not know in advance exactly how difficult access was going to be etc.

Local good tradesmen guides
These are very useful as , although the tradesmen do have to pay to advertise in them, they usually have to supply a couple of references from previous customers. In the case of reputable guides, the owners will remove a listing if there are enough justifiable complaints agains one of the tradesmen and women listed. One that I tend to rely on is Which Trusted Traders, as their vetting procedures are very strong. However you will need to be a member of Which to be able to use this guide.

Plumbers
Not all plumbers are the equal and all have their own areas of expertise. If you are having problems with your gas central heating system, particularly if it can be isolated to the boiler, you should always use a GasSafe registered heating engineer. If the problem is definitely with the boiler itself it's a good idea to check the make and model number before you call. It's also a good idea to call the boiler manufacturers or visit their website to see if they have a list of specialists in your area.

If you need an unvented system installed or serviced, by law you must use a plumber who has the necessary unvented certificate.

Cental Heating Systems
Although there are many minor variations there really are only two main types of domestic central heating system:
1) Conventional Vented Systems
In these systems you will have a boiler, a hot water copper cylinder (usually in the airing cupboard), a cold water storage tank and a header tank both in the loft. 2) Sealed Unvented Systems
These often employ a Combi (combination) boiler which is fed directly from the mains. It does not require any storage, although they are sometimes teamed with a sealed hot water storage tank, again usually in the airing cupboard. The advantage of these systems is that they save space, but the disadvantage is that if the water is cut off the central heating will stop and there will be no water to wash with or flush toilets. The most sophisticated and best systems employ the use of hot water stored under mains pressure in a large cylinder - a major brand is the Megaflo.

Electricians and Electrical Work
Since recent legislation, if you are carrying out any new installation you must ensure that they are Part P qualified and make sure you always obtain a certificate once the work is completed. A good example will be where you may wish to install an electric shower where you must see to it that the wiring is of suitable capacity and is run back to a separate fuse or MCB (miniture circuit breaker) of a suitably high amp rating.


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