How to choose the right carpenter?

Carpentry & Joinery

How to choose the right carpenter?

When choosing the right carpenter, there are some key issues you need to think about.In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.

Choose someone with lots of specific experience

It’s important you choose a tradesman/helper who has plenty of recent experience of doing your sort of job. The more specific a helper/tradesman’s experience, the more likely it is they will be able to quickly and efficiently deal with any snags that arise.

Tradesmen/helpers may advertise themselves as joiners, carpenters, or in some circumstances, cabinet makers. Although these professions overlap, and are all about working with wood, there are differences. Traditionally, a joiner creates the wooden structures for a house, such as window frames, doors and staircases, working on them off-site. A carpenter is someone who installs these elements, and works to repair and maintain them.

A cabinet maker is typically seen as a more skilled role, working on fine furniture and other woodwork. Many tradesmen/helpers will have the skills to work as joiners and carpenters, while larger firms will often employ both specialties.

Some people will hire a handyman to lay their solid wood flooring, to cut the cost of the project. However, someone who is not a time-served joiner may not know how much space to leave for the natural expansion that occurs, creating problems further down the road.

They also may not understand how different conditions affect how different floors need to be laid.It’s also worth, within the carpentry profession, finding someone who has a lot of experience of doing the particular sort of job you have in mind. However, there are guys who are set up completely for doing kitchens – that’s what they do – and we’d say definitely go with one of those. As well as reading a helper/tradesman’s feedback, ask to see photos of relevant work they’ve done. If possible – and particularly if yours is a big or expensive job – try to talk to one or two of their previous customers. A good tradesman/helper should be happy to put you in touch with previous clients, and this will help you find out what they’re like to have around your home on a day-to-day basis, as well as to assess the quality of their work. Asking these key questions could help:

  1. Did the tradesman stick to his initial quote, or did costs escalate?
  2. Was he easy to get hold of when needed?
  3. Did he complete the work to the original timescale?
  4. Did anything go wrong, and how did the tradesman deal with it?
  5. Did he protect the customer’s home properly before the job began, and clean up thoroughly afterwards?

Ask about materials early on

If you’re deciding which carpenter to hire for a large project (flooring your home, for example) make sure they all provide samples of the materials they’re going to use, for you to view and touch. ‘Solid oak flooring’, for example, comes in many shapes, thicknesses, forms and colours – and this should help you weed out anyone planning to save money by using lower-quality materials.

It’s also worth discussing who is sourcing which materials right at the beginning of the process. 

When it comes to basic carpentry materials – like timber – you as a homeowner definitely shouldn’t source them. And ironmongery, that’s definitely not something you should be choosing, because often the quality of the stuff you will find wouldn’t be good.

On the other hand, tradesman/helper rarely buy what they call the ‘choice’ materials – decorative bits like finished kitchen fittings and door knobs that everyone sees. Lots of people are quite particular about the style and want to get those themselves.

Talking about materials early on can also save you as a homeowner a lot of money:

When it comes to materials, some people want to buy their own, which is fine. But we always suggest you have a conversation with the tradesman/helper early on, to find out what your options are.

For example, our tradesmen/helpers always try to recommend the cheapest places for you to go. And there are some shops that members of the public can’t use – only tradespeople – so if those shops stock the things you want, they might suggest to buy the materials themselves, so you benefit from the trade discount they get. I think it’s important a tradesman/helper goes the extra mile if at all possible. Also check out Get a detailed quote from each tradesman you’re considering.


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