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How to hire guide: carpenters

Carpenters aren’t tradespeople we employ frequently, which can make sorting the good from the bad tricky. Follow our top tips for hiring and working with the best local carpenters and joiners.

Finding a good carpenter

Start by asking friends, family and neighbours for recommendations. A good local carpenter will come highly recommended by previous customers. Look for carpentry and joinery companies with lots of reviews and check their profile photographs and company websites. Have they undertaken work similar to yours? Do they specialise in a particular type of carpentry, such as wood flooring installation, doors and gates or summer houses? Do they hold a qualification in carpentry, such as an NVQ or City & Guilds? How long has the carpentry business been trading?

Carpenters may be registered with a number of trade organisations, such as our partner organisation, the Institute of Carpenters (IOC), or other organisations like British Woodworking Federation (BWF), the Guild of Master Craftsmen or the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Membership of these organisations, or others, doesn’t necessarily separate the wheat from the chaff, but it might indicate a certain level of professionalism. That’s not to say years of experience don’t count for anything, though – don't choose a carpenter based on their professional memberships alone.

Getting carpentry and joinery quotes

The nature of your job will determine whether a trader can give you a quote on the telephone. In most cases, it’s likely the trader will want to visit your property to take measurements and discuss your options.

Get at least three quotes for any carpentry and joinery job, large or small. Try to get quotes that can be easily compared and make sure they include any ‘hidden’ costs such as waste disposal or car parking charges.

Check that your prospective carpenters have insurance that covers them for any damage inadvertently caused to your property.

If you’re working backwards from a fixed budget, be sure you understand any corners the carpenter will cut in order to meet your desired price as each carpenter might give you different suggestions. Do you understand the difference between a laminate and real wood floor, for example? How durable or attractive is a cheaper type of wood?

Hiring a carpenter

Be clear about the work that will be carried out before it starts. As a minimum, you should be comfortable with the cost of each part of the job, the likely completion time and how payment will be made.

Ask to see the carpenter’s insurance documents and don’t be afraid to discuss what happens if you’re not satisfied with the standard of any work. Good traders will always produce insurance documents and talk about complaints procedures – a carpenter who is reluctant to do so should be avoided.

Paying a carpenter

Most jobs are usually paid upon acceptance of the work. If the job demands lots of costly materials, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the carpentry company to ask for a deposit up-front or on commencement. Never pay the full amount in advance – you may want to withhold the final payment until any niggles or disputes are resolved.

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