Things have moved on since a bulky directory dumped at your door and ads in the local paper were the best ways to find local tradespeople. But there’s something reassuring about print, which seems to suggest that the companies who qualify have been vetted to a higher standard. By contrast, the Internet can seem daunting, apparently teeming with reputable local contractors. Do you take their word for it?
If you’ve never used the Internet to choose workmen but you’d like to start, read on for a rough guide to the directory sites used by savvy shoppers to compare local tradespeople, find customer reviews and make sure they’re getting a good deal on a great job.
The online presence of the Yellow Pages, Yell is one of the big-hitters in the directory world, with all the categories you’d expect from the doorstop version. They have an app, which is nifty, and the site is very slick and high-powered. It’s free to use with no registration required, which is nice, although you’ll need to sign up and sign in if you want to leave a review, which I heartily recommend: leaving a review every time you have a job done, whether your experience is positive or negative, helps the community paint an honest picture of the abilities of every drainage company, encouraging the honest, hardworking and reputable and taking money from the pockets of the cowboys. You can search your local area for a reasonably broad set of categories, and refine your search by area and reviews.
Take the time to read some reviews, and then use a search engine to see if the companies you’ve been considering are mentioned elsewhere.
This is a plumbing-only online directory which can be filtered into quite detailed catagories. Relatively recently established, it won’t have every local drainage company on there just yet, but it’s a good place to start gathering quotes, as you can request a quote directly via the site. The site isn’t the slickest or the biggest, but it’s simple and easy to use: a great place to start. The bonus is that directory members here are screened by the host rather than directly adding and maintaining their own profile, and by all accounts their background checks are rigorous: that’s better than the local paper can say about their ads!
Despite its pretty basic format, FreeIndex is another giant of the comparison world. Easy to use and search, with plenty of detailed categories and the option to refine by service, it’s a workhorse of a directory and comes highly recommended. Be warned though, like Yell they don’t vet the entries, which are submitted and maintained by the companies themselves. It’s best to use FreeIndex by relying on the reviews, which are customer-submitted and do require some basic checks. Like everything online, take each individual review with a pinch of salt: ten or more positive reviews, however, is a good sign. Don’t take negative reviews as gospel, but consider them in context, and pay attention if the company are responding to reviews: that’s a good sign.
If in doubt, go back to basics: get your quotes online and make a list of local companies, and then go back to basics, doing your due diligence and asking around. Sometimes a personal recommendation, while old-fashioned, is better than a hundred anonymous reviews.
The author is a first-time home owner, writing a renovation diary and blogging about issues including interior decoration, DIY, home bargains and domestic disasters. She visits the Jethrough website to stay current on everything to do with drains and drainage in the London area.