Hiring a tradesperson to help you with any job around the home can often feel like you're negotiating a minefield.
Unfortunately, while the majority of plumbers are skilled, respectable professionals, the minority of rogue traders have tainted the sector to the point where many consumers - perhaps understandably - treat anyone who works in the sector with at least a small degree of wariness and mistrust.
However, there will undoubtedly come a time when you need to hire a plumber to carry out work that you simply don't have the training or experience to do yourself, so how can you find the right person for the job?
Here are a few tips to set you on the right path.
Put your trust in a professional body
One of the biggest safety nets you can ask for when it comes to avoiding plumbers that have a less than satisfactory reputation is to hire a tradesperson via an official industry body.
If you're not sure how to find out whether the person you have in mind for the job belongs to such an organisation, you can always ask to see their credentials and - if you're still not convinced - contact the group yourself to enquire if your plumber is a member.
Alternatively, you can go straight to the body for help right from the start and search its website for information on which of its members are located in your area.
The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors is a good place to start, as it has its own dedicated directory to help the consumer, while the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers also has a handy 'Find a Plumber' search function on its website.
One of the benefits of hiring a professional who belongs to these types of organisations is that you know they must care about their reputation - as all it takes is for you to complain about their conduct to the body for it to investigate the matter further, meaning the tradesperson is always going to be held accountable for the work they do. Hopefully, this should be enough to give you peace of mind.
Use personal recommendations
It's no secret that many plumbers' businesses are based upon customer referrals and it's not uncommon for whole networks of families and friends to use the same tradesperson.
This is good practice for two reasons. Firstly, you can see first-hand what the work of the plumber you are thinking of hiring is like and can also get unbiased, trustworthy opinions of other aspects of their conduct like attitude, speed, quality etc.
Secondly, the plumber will be motivated to do a top-quality job knowing that there could be even more work for them as a result of further recommendations from yourself and the person who referred them to you in the first place. It's in their interest to do their best, as it could impact significantly on their potential future earnings made by continuing their relationship with your associates.
Not all plumbing jobs are the same - and not even all showers involve the same installation process and finishing techniques.
Because of this, it's always a good idea to find a professional who can prove their experience in carrying out exactly the sort of work that you are after.
If you're looking at having a wetroom created, for example, ask to see pictures of previous wetrooms they have built and don't be afraid to request references or even contact telephone numbers of people who have had such projects completed by the tradesperson in the past - it's more common practice to do this than you think!