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'Talk to your tradesman' app puts spring into home improvements
Springtime is the traditional season for home improvements, but if the seasonal urge to tend to our nests is not enough, two thirds of British first-time homeowners admit to be further motivated by the secret embarrassment at the state of their home when friends and family pop over to visit.
According to a new survey by TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark to help people find reputable tradesmen, the busiest tradesmen this Spring are likely to be painters and decorators, general builders and kitchen and bathroom fitters.
Nearly half of people who have just bought their first home think their home needs a lick of paint or a thorough redecoration, and one in five say they need to do minor repairs. 17% could do with a new bathroom or kitchen, and 6% are planning major building improvements such as an extension or loft conversion.
TrustMark's research also underlines the importance of its 'Talk to your tradesman' app, which has now been launched for all iPhones, BlackBerries and Google, Android and Windows based smartphones. A vital tool to get people started on any home repair, maintenance and improvement job, the app helps homeowners ask all the right questions and to have more confident conversations with a tradesman before they accept a quote for work to be done in or around their home.
"A tradesman wouldn't start his job without his tools. Neither should a homeowner start any home improvements without theirs, particularly when we're talking about the single most expensive and important thing we will ever own," says Liz Male, Chairman of TrustMark.
"Even for the most experienced of customers, trying to remember all the questions you really should ask, or actually having the confidence to ask all those questions when you've got a tradesman in your home, is not that easy. The TrustMark app can help solve that problem in 11 easy steps as it creates an instant record of the conversation and prompts questions and provides advice at every stage telling you what to look out for and your consumer rights.
"You can also record what is agreed using text and photos and and then email a copy to yourself and the tradesman. You can compare notes on the firms you see. And if you're not intending to draw up a proper contract when the job goes ahead, this is probably the next best thing."
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders says:
"Embarking on a building project is really exciting and is a lot easier when you know how to choose the right builder. Not only will you have to live with the work the builder does for you but you may also have to live with the builder whilst the work is being done. Don't award a job on price alone, but think hard about how well you got on with the builder. Use the 'Talk to your tradesman' app to help get the conversation going."
But what about the tradespeople?
"The TrustMark app reminds homeowners to ask all the right questions - even those questions that you may feel awkward or embarrassed to ask. The app will help us have better working relationships with our customers, which can only be a good thing."
Annie Penn, a homeowner in Buckinghamshire agrees, saying: "The app was an invaluable tool for me as I didn't have any existing relationship with an electrician and I wanted the assurance that I was going to ask all the right questions and not forget that 'all important' one as soon as the tradesman had walked out the door. Being able to email a copy of the conversation about our discussion to myself and the electrician ensured that we were both happy and clear about what was required for the job."
The TrustMark app is free to download from iTunes App Store, Google Play, BlackBerry World or fromwww.trustmark.org.uk/apps. A paper copy of the questions and guidance is also available to download from www.trustmark.org.uk
A mobile version of www.trustmark.org.uk is now also available to allow people to search for TrustMark registered tradesmen at a moment's notice.
22nd March 2013