Shooting down cowboy tradesmen – how to choose a reputable supplier

Cowboy Traders

We recently had a phone call from a damsel in distress and for once is wasn’t our MD’s fault – it was her electrician’s. Her electrical engineer wouldn’t provide her EICR certificate for the work he had carried out until she paid him.

We know this is against NICEIC’s (a leading governing body of the electrical industry) policy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t provide her with a certificate without completely re-doing the work ourselves.

We did, however, talk her through how to report this electrician to the NICEIC and how to check for a reputable electrician.
This instance is minor compared to come of the botched jobs we’ve had to fix. These usually stem from electrical engineers failing to install equipment to manufacturer’s instructions or wiring to regulatory standards. The customer is typically oblivious until something stops working properly or becomes dangerous.

How do faulty jobs occur?

There’s a major industry shortage in general throughout all trades. With the electrical engineering trade, those new to the profession are often mistaken about the wages they’ll initially be earning with large pound signs in their eyes. In reality, getting an official qualification after four years of studying is only the start of the process of becoming an electrical engineer. It takes time to work up to a higher wage bracket.
Consequently, young electrical engineers often go for higher paid jobs in large companies where they can be stuck in a job role doing the same thing each day therefore not gaining experience. If they work for a smaller company, they’re not initially on the wages they thought they would be but to gain plenty of experience.

This means they often leave and go it alone, setting up as a sole trader with the right qualifications but little experience.

Other electrical engineering companies are great engineers but not fall-down on the paperwork side of things which is just as important.

Here is our checklist to help you choose a reputable electrical engineer:

• You get what you pay for: cheapest isn’t always best. Employing a reputable electrician or engineer costs more because they have higher qualifications.
• Check trusted industry review websites such as, or
• Ask the electrician if they purchase their parts from a reputable wholesaler and check they all include British Standard (BS) number.
• Ensure they’re an established business so they can guarantee their warranty period.
• Make sure they’re members of regulated industry bodies. These include:

NICEIC is the UK’s leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry. It has been assessing the electrical competence of electricians for nearly sixty years and currently maintains a roll of over 26,000 registered contractors.

Trust Mark – TrustMark is the only Government endorsed scheme for trades in and around the home. They award registered firms with their accreditation after thorough vetting and on-site inspections to ensure the firm is raising industry standards.

The Guild of Master Craftsmen – the UK’s most established trade association representing skilled tradesmen who strive for excellence in their workmanship. They represent over 500 different trades and professions and all Guild members have been assessed and vetted to earn the right to be called master craftsmen.

CHAS – One of the founders of third party accreditation. They are not only a trusted advisor on health & safety compliance, they are an authority. They set industry benchmarks, provide assurance and reassurance.