We all know the rewards, financial and otherwise, of becoming a landlord far outstrip the stress and the hassle.
But there are always headaches to overcome... this is the property game, after all.
One of the biggest pains for landlords, rookie, intermediate or experienced, is finding good quality tradespeople to undertake those crucial improvements to a new portfolio acquisition.
Websites like Trustpilot and Trust a Trader go some way to ensuring peace of mind when the van rolls up outside to start work, but digital word of mouth only goes so far. How often have you seen a genuine mix of reviews on a particular tradesperson, leaving you befuddled and even more confused than you were before you started your search?
So, what else can you do to ensure you get the best, but at the best value?
TAKE YOUR TIMEOf course you want that new property tenanted and bringing in money as soon as you can, but haste has no place in renovation. Take time to assess the various trades you need to complete the job, before embarking on the search process to bring them in. Some good, solid preparation early on in the process will result in fewer mistakes being made once the hammers start banging and the water in the pipes starts flowing.
WORD OF MOUTHAnd we're not talking about online! Is the property next door to yours looking pretty slick and well maintained? If so, knock on the door and ask the owner if they have any recommendations for good tradespeople. Even in this digital age of reviews, reviews, reviews, there's still a place for old fashioned word of mouth.
Okay, so you need to take your time and speak to actual people, but the Internet is still the best place to find options quickly when it comes to trades.
But beware. Despite the world wide web and trust sites clamping down on things like fake reviews, things can slip through the net (or web, if you prefer)
The depth of the Internet, though, thanks to social media platforms like Facebook (a great place to search by postcode), is the perfect place to draw up a list of potentials with sound reviews before taking your enquiries to the next stage.
CONDUCT A PHONE INTERVIEW
Once you have a list of, say, 10 tradespeople for the work you need, spend some time phoning them up to find out what they are all about.
If you're being really specific, how did they answer the phone? With a gruff 'hello' or with the name of their company and a bright and breezy 'good morning'?
How quickly can they come to quote on the job? How enthusiastic were they about the work, or did it sound like a hassle? What professional qualifications and certificates do they have?
You can glean a lot from a quick chat and, if nothing else, doing so will help you cut back your list to a shortlist of favourites.
If the work is substantial, you should think nothing of asking your shortlist to show you some previous work. If they aren't keen to do so, then that should be a red flag straight away.
Experience also counts for a lot when it comes to large jobs like loft conversions - if a company has been trading for 15 years then that trumps an enthusiastic newcomer.
Once you have your shortlist down to a handful of tradespeople, invite them to quote on the work - but don't agree to anyone doing the work on their quote visit, even if you do already have quotes and they are the cheapest.
Take some more time to review the quotes against things like Internet reviews. The cheapest isn't always the best option...
GOOD JOB? THEN FIND OUT WHO ELSE THEY KNOW...
Good tradespeople generally align themselves with other good tradespeople. So, if you find the perfect plumber who does and outstanding job at good value, ask them if they can recommend a carpenter, builder or electrician? And if you own multiple properties in your portfolio, make sure those who do a good job for you know there could be more work around the corner...
And of course you can always speak to your local Martin & Co office to see which tradespeople they would recommend!