Should you trust your plumber?

Homeowners prefer to hire a tradesperson through a personal recommendation from a friend or family member1, WaterSafe have found in their latest research project.

A total of 63% of customers choose a trader according to personal recommendations whilst just 23% go online to do their own research. Interestingly, 22% of Brits still use the Yellow Pages or the phone book to find a plumber, electrician or builder.

Worryingly, one in five of those who hire a trader through friends or family trust the arrangement to the extent that they fail to ask for proof of identity or accreditations. This is despite WaterSafe’s estimates that rogue plumbers alone have cost the nation £2.6 billion in recent years.

Julie Spinks, director at WaterSafe, said: “While it is great to go with a tradesmen recommended by someone close to you, it’s still not guaranteed that the job they have done is correct and, worse still, they may not even be qualified! However, regardless of whether they have done a good job in your friend or family member’s home, consumers are still unaware that checking a professional’s credentials is vital before any work is carried out.”

Finding a plumber you can trust

A number of accreditation schemes exist to protect consumers from rogue traders. Below is a list of some of the most popular trader schemes in the UK.


This is a government-backed scheme. When you see the TrustMark logo, it means:

  1. a firm’s technical skills have been independently checked through regular on-site inspections, as well as checks into their trading record and financial status
  2. the company has signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety standards, and a commitment to customer care
  3. the approved scheme operator has confirmed and will continue to monitor the firm’s quality of work, trading practices and customer satisfaction rate.

TrustMark cannot guarantee that a trading company will not hit financial difficulty. This is why they encourage all firms to offer customers the opportunity to buy a warranty for works carried out, which can support customers if a problem arises and the trader cannot finish the job or resolve the issue.


Launched in October and supported by all UK water companies, WaterSafe has brought together the seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes by partnering with APHC, CIPHE, SNIPEF, WIAPS, Anglian Water’s A Plus, Severn Trent Water’s WaterMark and Thames Water’s TAPS.

All plumbers accepted on to the WaterSafe scheme possess a NVQ L2 in plumbing mechanical services or equivalent and a Water Regulations Certificate. The plumber will provide customers with a Work Completed Certificate, which serves as a legal defence if challenged by the water company enforcing the Water Regulations and Byelaws. Each business also holds public liability insurance and has agreements in place to protect the customer if something goes wrong.

Gas Safe

The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey having replaced CORGI between 2009 and 2010. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register.

Gas Safe protect the public from unsafe gas work through regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers, the implementation of gas safety awareness campaigns and consumer education, and a dedicated national investigations team who track down illegal workers.

Before hiring a gas engineer, you should check they are on the Gas Safe Register, and when they arrive on your doorstep, always ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card before letting them in.

Did you find this information useful? You may also like to read: How to get the best work out of your plumber »

1 HVP, 2015. Consumers prefer ‘word of mouth’ to searching online. [Online] Available at: http://www.hvpmag.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/3364/Customers_prefer__word_of_mouth__to_searching_online.html. [Accessed 6th July 2015].

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