December can be a difficult time for keeping your building project or trader visit on track. Festivities can create both joy and stress, with disruptions from traders potentially unwelcome. 

However, you might be looking to keep the momentum going on an extension, or simply need emergency work done to your home. 

We ran a poll on LinkedIn asking people which they prefer when a tradesman is working in their property: minimal talking, having a natter or either/depends. 

Each option received a third of the total votes, meaning there’s a wide variety in how people want to interact with traders. It’s best to respect the wishes of the other person, whether you’re the customer or the trader.

We’ve put together some tips for both traders and customers on how to maintain a good relationship this winter.

1. Follow safety guidance 

As the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, it’s important to follow safety guidance and respect each other's wishes. Both trader and customer should be prepared to wear a mask if the other person requests it, or to take precautions such as keeping a distance, going into another room or opening a window. 

Respect what the other person is comfortable with and follow guidelines set out by the government. 

Of course, have the courtesy and consideration to let your trader know if you have any symptoms and need to reschedule. 

2. Be clear about credentials

Do your research before allowing a trader into your home and make sure you’re confident about their credentials. For example, if the trader is going to be working on your gas boiler or appliances, ensure they’re on the Gas Safe Register. 

Use Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable trader who has been thoroughly vetted by our endorsement scheme. 

3. Offer festive refreshments

Offer the builder, plumber or other tradesperson visiting your home some refreshment such as a cup of tea or mince pie. 

However, don’t be offended if they consider accepting food or drink a covid risk or would simply rather crack on, get the job done and leave.

Refreshments aside, you can be a hospitable customer by keeping pathways through your property tidy so traders can move around easily. Additionally, make sure there are no obstructions to access points such as the fuse box or gas meter. 

4. Sort out the quote before work begins

Make sure you get a quote upfront so that there's no awkwardness or confusion at the end about what’s been agreed. Both sides need to understand what work will be completed and how much it will cost. 

For traders, if the price could change according to what needs doing or what materials are required, make sure the customer is aware so they won’t be surprised at the end that the cost is higher than the original quote. If you need advice about this, read our article on how traders can communicate rising costs and shortages to customers when giving quotes.

5. Be tolerant of music

A contentious one, as many people hate listening to others’ musical choices. 

If you’re the trader, gauge the situation. If your customer seems averse to chatting and is visibly trying to concentrate on work, ask if it’s OK to play music before blasting it out. 

If you’re the customer, remember that many people find music helps them to work more productively and makes the day go more quickly.. 

If you’re both happy to work with noise and want to celebrate the holiday season, why not play some Christmas tunes? You could even try a singalong if it isn’t going to shatter your newly installed windows. 

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