Why to Ignore the Price Tag When Selecting a Tradesperson


avin Jenkins of HomeForce explains why using price as the main criteria for selecting a tradesperson is fraught with danger.

reliable tradespeople edinburghWHEN CHEAP BECOMES EXPENSIVE

Recently HomeForce tradespeople have been been asked to inspect and put right substandard work carried out by others who have over-promised and underdelivered. In some cases the decision to appoint a given contractor was taken out of a customer’s hands by an insurance company who, let’s face it, will always select the lowest bidder.

In the above instances, customers who’d hoped they’d found a bargain, or were forced down “the cheapest” route, have ultimately spent more than if they’d selected a suitably vetted, qualified and experienced tradesperson in the first place.

19th Century philosopher and social thinker John Ruskin sums it up:

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”


For consumables such as cars, restaurants, electronic goods or holidays it is intuitive to associate a higher price with better quality or service.

On the other hand, it seems that when assessing a tradesperson’s quote the assumption is that the quality or service will be the same no matter the price. But can this really be? A better, in-demand lawyer, accountant or consultant will charge more for their time, so why should this not be the case for a joiner, plumber or electrician?

Rather, than condemn a tradesman’s higher quote as “expensive,” perhaps we should pause  and contemplate the question, “does it mean better quality / better service?”

reliable tradespeople edinburghBE EQUALLY WARY OF THE HIGHEST BIDDER

“So, you’re saying ‘go for the more expensive quote’,” I hear you say. Well, no, that route is equally fraught with danger.

Whilst a low price might make one concerned about the quality of workmanship, a high price could actually indicate that the job is not properly understood – which could be because the tradesperson doesn’t have the skills, qualifications or experience required.

As humans, we are all proud beings. It is rare for any professional to hold up their hands and say, “I’m not the right person for the job.” It injures the ego less to take a gamble, put in a higher price and hope just to muddle through.


You say what you will pay

Rather than being told by someone – who, let’s face it, is a complete stranger – how much of your hard-earned cash you are going to part with, try telling your three selected tradespeople how much money you have to spend.

It may well be against your instinct to trust a tradesperson in this way, but a good tradesperson will (within reason) be able to work creatively with you and your budget and may even have money-saving ideas that allow you to spend your budget in unforseen areas.


Try blanking from your mind the prices on the quotes you receive and ask yourself, “If all the prices were the same, then which of my three tradespeople would I ask to do the job?”

If your preferred supplier is not your cheapest supplier then just ask them if they’d be willing to negotiate on price. They might say no but they are at least likely to explain why they believe they justify a higher price. They may not ultimately come down to the price of the lowest bidder but if they bring their price down just a little and you believe they are the right person for the job, it’s still a good deal.

Be fluid in your budget allocation

You may have your heart set on tiles costing £25 per square metre, but it makes more sense to buy tiles at £10 per square metre and divert the money saved to paying for a plumber who knows what he’s about and won’t leave a leaking pipe hidden behind your expensive tiles.

Compare apples with apples

It may seem obvious to say that you should ensure that all quotes cover the same work. However, what some people forget is to compare the materials that competing tradespeople plan to use. It’s very easy for a tradesperson to reduce a price by reducing the cost of the materials used. And it’s not just in consumer products that cheaper materials usually mean lower quality.

reliable tradespeople edinburghIN SUMMARY

No one would say that price should never be a factor in the buying process, but the experience of HomeForce suggests that it should not be the only factor. To turn to John Ruskin again:

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only, are this man’s lawful prey.”

Gavin Jenkins is director of HomeForce – an Edinburgh company providing thoroughly vetted and continuously-appraised tradespeople for any property repair, maintenance or renovation work. Call them on 0131 315 0000 to book a tradesperson you can trust.


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