A tradesperson who brings their own teabags and texts you at the weekend about shop sales?
No, it isn't too good to be true, says Which? member Julia Williams Bewley.
Why did you turn to Which? Local?
When we took on a run-down flat in east London we knew we'd need some help from various experts.
The great tradespeople I'd met over the years while living in west London wouldn't want to travel that far so we had to find new, local people.
I started by asking for recommendations at local DIY supplies shops but wasn't feeling very confident. The bad experiences I'd had of meeting tradespeople this way rather than the good ones kept springing to mind.
Suddenly, probably when searching for a Which? report on some DIY item, I was reminded of Which? Local. It's funny because I'd contributed some reviews to the site a few months before but it just hadn't occurred to me I could use the site for my own substantial needs.
As I trawled Which? Local's list of electricians and plumbers near our flat, sorting them in order of location so I could view the nearest first, I realised I'd hit a life-saving goldmine.
Member: Julia Williams Bewley & husband Edmund
Date used: July & August 2011
Using the trader
The reviews that everyone had written were really helpful - I felt I knew a bit about the people before speaking to them.
I noticed nearly all Which? Local traders were very good at calling back. The ones with the most reviews were very busy!
It can take a while to find the worker who wants to do your job as much as you want them to do it.
Those who came to assess what I needed and quote were by and large excellent at explaining what was needed and offered useful suggestions.
I used electrician Fitzroy Barnes, known as Roy. His business is FAB Electrical Services.
When he first came to see the extensive wiring needed at our ex-council flat he spent a lot of time working out what might be best for us. This was very necessary as we have concrete ceilings and floors to deal with -not the easiest landscape when you have wires to hide.
His suggestions didn't stop at the first viewing. He takes time to properly think a problem through to arrive at a best solution. We certainly gave him plenty of awkward wire-runs to manage here and we're really very pleased with the result.
Before Roy's work: a socket
Going the extra mile
And we got much more than just wiring. If Roy joined in a conversation about tiles he'd know an outlet store worth checking. When he knew we needed lighting he texted us over a weekend to say there was a sale on at a lighting store and remind us what 'zone' we needed lights for.
Nothing seemed to be too much trouble. I just really hope we didn't use up too much of his own time because he is very generous with both that and his knowledge.
I suppose he did become one of the family.
Rather than doing a rush job Roy prefers to work at a steady pace and get it right and as you want it.
He is trustworthy and he tidies up. Remember though that work requiring drilling through walls, ceilings and floors produces dust that won't settle immediately.
He likes two sugars in his tea and shares in the making of it -including providing the ingredients.
Roy is excellent value. We will definitely ask him to do more electrical work when the time comes.
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