When choosing the right gas engineer, there are some key issues you need to think about. In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.
- Ask whether the tradesman is RGI – then double check
- Choose someone with lots of specific experience
- Get a detailed quote from each tradesman/helper you’re considering
- Never hire a tradesman/helper who demands the full cost of the job upfront in cash
- Ask each tradesman/helper to explain what he intends to do – and why
- Don’t make yourself vulnerable by self-diagnosing the issue
- Ask who will actually be doing the work
Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.
Ask whether the tradesman is Gas Safe-registered – then double check
With many of the categories listed on Helpers.ie, homeowners can choose to either take a DIY approach, or call in a professional tradesman/helper (or a mixture of both).
However, this is not the case with gas. If anyone is working with gas in Ireland, they are legally required to be on the RGI. That’s the official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely on boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances.
This is not an area in which you can have a go yourself! So, the first thing to check is that the tradesman/helper you’re considering hiring is RGI.
Not all gas engineers are qualified to work on all gas appliances, so check the back of the card to find out which the tradesman/helper can and can’t get involved with.
Choose someone with lots of specific experience
Once you’ve established that all the tradesmen/helpers you’re considering are legally allowed to work on your project, choose one that has lots of specific experience of doing your type of job.
Paul Byrne of Paul Byrne Gas Services has years of experience under his belt, so much that he often focuses on installation work while letting others take on inspection and repair jobs.
“I’ve been installing 200 boilers a year for more than 20 years so I can safely say I know what I’m doing when it comes to boiler installations. I’ve also been accredited by different manufacturers, so people can know I have the experience to do their kind of job. Some people will focus more on inspections or repair work, so you can find the right person you need.”
Once you’ve found a tradesman/helper with the right experience, see photos of their work on our site, and – if it’s going to be a big job – try checking their previous feedback. That will allow you to find out about what it’s like having them in your home, as well as their standard of workmanship.
Get a detailed quote from each tradesman/helper you’re considering
Choose a tradesman/helper who gives you a detailed quote after reading all the details of your project, with all the costs broken down. These should include everything from labour and materials to any possible extra expenses, like travel and parking.
Never hire a tradesman/helper who demands the full cost of the job upfront in cash!
William O’Connor explains that a homeowner should never choose a gas engineer who demands full payment upfront in cash.
“I find a lot of people actually try to pay me before I’ve done the job! Never, ever do that – always wait until the job is finished and you know you’re happy with the work.
“I’d also suggest a homeowner chooses a gas engineer who gives them a total price for the whole job in their quote – rather than a per-hour or per-day rate. That’s because if you’re paying someone per hour, they could be doing whatever in your cupboard. They could be spinning it out and just sitting there on the phone!”
Ask each tradesman to explain what he intends to do – and why
Because of the potential dangers involved with gas, and the fact that homeowners aren’t allowed to undertake any gas work themselves, the area remains particularly impenetrable and difficult to understand for many customers.
William warns that unscrupulous tradesmen/helpers sometimes take advantage of homeowners’ reluctance to ask questions. He says:
“You should get the tradesman/helper to explain why he’s taking action before he starts work. So for example, if someone tells you a gas valve needs changing, ask them to explain exactly why it needs changing. That will often discourage tradesman/helpers making extra work for themselves – and charging for it – when it doesn’t really need to be done.
“So I would choose a tradesman/helpers who was willing to explain things, and show you how to sort the little, safe things you can do yourself, rather than just fixing something but not showing you what he’s done.
“When I’m doing a job, I try to explain to the customer why it’s being done, why I’ve decided to approach the job that way, and how the machine actually works for future reference. For example, a lot of people don’t know how to top their boilers up – and then they pay an engineer upto €100 or so just to come out and top the boiler up every time.”
Don’t make yourself vulnerable by self-diagnosing the issue
When considering which tradesman/helper to hire, it’s best not to tell them exactly what you think the problem is; instead, explain what the effects are on you (for example – you don’t have any hot water) then let them take a look for themselves. William explains why:
“A lot of people research things themselves online, before a tradesman/helper gets to their property. Which makes sense in one way, but if they tell the engineer what they think is wrong before he even looks at the situation, they make themselves more vulnerable to being ripped off.
“Because then there’s the risk that a dishonest engineer will just agree with you and say yes, that’s the problem – even if the real issue is a lot simpler and cheaper to sort.”
Ask who will actually be doing the work?
Finally, ask each tradesman/helper whether they’ll be the person actually carrying out the work. That way, you should avoid ending up with a less competent, less experienced sub-contractor at the last minute.
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