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Common Misconceptions About Tradespeople

Three plumbing trainees at a workshop bench working with copper piping

As a whole, tradespeople are hardworking and honest, from plasterers and painters to gas engineers and electricians. They all have a skill and simply want to do their jobs without hassle. Regrettably, there are several common misconceptions about tradespeople that taint the industry and leave people untrusting of those working in the industry.

So, what are these common misconceptions?

All Tradespeople Are Cowboys

Unfortunately, as is often the case, a few people can ruin it for everyone. According to Consumer Rights Expert, there are at least 100,000 complaints about cowboy builders each year.

There’s no denying that there are cowboy builders out there that aren’t qualified or skilled enough to complete the jobs they undertake. As a result, they leave people with unfinished work on their properties, or worse, dangerous work.

That said, they are in the minority – they just get more publicity than the good ones. There are thousands of professional, honest and qualified tradespeople out there. For instance, there are currently over 140,000 registered gas engineers and more than 76,000 businesses on the Gas Safe Register alone.

When people see, read or hear things about rogue traders, it can be hard to trust tradespeople. That’s why tradespeople must show off their work, qualifications and expertise, providing peace of mind for customers.

They’re Overpriced

Over five million results will appear when you enter ‘why are tradesmen so expensive?’ on a search engine. But are tradespeople expensive? Or is this just another one of the common misconceptions?

Tradespeople have to earn a living. It’s also important to remember that to complete that job. They’ve trained and been gaining experience and knowledge for years.

Take into account material costs and the time taken to travel and buy them, transport and fuel to the job itself, and labour costs. Not to mention the extra time spent writing up invoices and doing other paperwork. There’s much more to being a tradesperson than people might first think.

Common Misconceptions - Electrical student in workshop

According to Tradesman Saver, the average daily rates in the trades are as follows:*

  • Carpenters: £120 – £150
  • Bricklayer:  £155
  • Labourer: £100 – £160
  • Electricians: £150 – £200
  • Plumbers: £150 – £200
  • Builders: £120 – £200
  • Gardeners: £90 – £160

*This is just an average, and prices vary depending on location and how skilled/experienced a tradesperson is. 

They Don’t Clean Up After Themselves

Some rumours are going around about electricians on-site and amongst those in the trades. More specifically, that electricians aren’t very tidy.

This, of course, isn’t strictly true. In every trade, there are those who clean up after themselves and those who don’t. Luckily, those who don’t are in the minority and a bugbear of other tradespeople and customers alike.

In fact, On The Tools found that the second most annoying thing about the other trades is those who don’t clean up after themselves for tradespeople.

So, when looking to hire a tradesperson, customers can be safe knowing that the vast majority are tidy.

If you’re a tradesperson, make sure you swill your mug out, sweep up any dust and wipe the surfaces at the end of each day. You’ll probably find it increases your chances of a good review and recommendations.

Tradespeople Are Uneducated

The term working class is defined as “the social group consisting of people who are employed for wages, especially in manual or industrial work.” (Source: Oxford) So naturally, many people in the trades industry are from a working-class background. The problem comes with the stereotypes that surround working-class people.

TV and other media forms depict working-class people as less educated than middle or upper-class people.

Stephanie Lawler, a British sociologist, found that media representations of working-class communities tend to focus on what the homes lack. Not just in terms of material items but “a lack of ‘taste,’ knowledge’, and the ‘right ways of being and doing, (Source: QZ).

So, with working-class people viewed as uneducated and tradespeople being mainly from working-class backgrounds, the misconception that tradespeople are uneducated continues.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether working as an electrician or builder, carpenter or welder, you have to train and learn a lot to become a professional.

Though trades roles may not necessarily require attending university, it’s important to remember that going to university isn’t the only signifier of intelligence and skill. The likes of gas engineers and electricians train for years to become qualified. And after that, they continue to go through on-site training and written and practical exams to update their knowledge and skills.

Is university the be-all and end-all? Find out more in University Vs. Vocational Training.

They’re Lazy

Laziness isn’t a trait of a tradesperson. Laziness is the sign of a cowboy tradesperson.

Many tradespeople join the trade at a young age, following in a parent’s footsteps. Others go into another industry before deciding they’re better suited to a more manual role. Finally, some enter the trades at an older age, pursuing the career they’ve always wanted. Though their start points may be different, what they all have in common is the passion they have for their job.

A survey carried out by Ironmongery Direct. found that 72% of tradespeople surveyed were happy or very happy in their current role. In addition, 70% would recommend their jobs to others. And, it says a lot that plumbers have been named the happiest workers in Britain.

The work tradespeople do isn’t completed in half a day, with the other half spent skiving off. Tradespeople put a lot of time and effort into their work. You’ll often find them working late to get a job finished for a customer, and a large percentage offer a 24/7 emergency call-out service to help those in urgent situations.

They’re Bad at Time-KeepingCommon Misconceptions - Plumber in workshop

Everyone has days when they’re a little late. Alarms fail to go off and traffic during rush hour is unavoidable.

According to a study by Heathrow Express, an average of 590,000 workers in the UK show up late every day.

Perpetual lateness, however? Not ok.

Thankfully, most tradespeople have excellent time-keeping skills, and why wouldn’t they? They have a diary to keep. If they turn up late to one job, it’s only going to delay the start of another job. Therefore, putting them in a backlog and under a lot of pressure, with the only way to rectify it being to cancel jobs or work late.

Again, this is just another common misconception of tradespeople that persists due to a small number of people.

They Don’t Do Small Jobs

Many tradespeople prefer getting stuck into big projects, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, smaller jobs are precisely the kind of work they want.

Those small jobs are perfect for when they have a day or two free. For example, a plasterer may well be capable of rendering a whole property, but they’ll still be more than happy to plaster a box bedroom or porch.

You’ll often come across a common line on many tradespeoples’ websites and other forms of advertising. ‘No job too big or too small’. And it’s true.

Common Misconceptions About Tradespeople

Customers must know what to look out for when hiring a tradesperson to avoid cowboys. However, it is also important to remember that the number of honest, hardworking tradespeople vastly outweighs the number of cowboys.

All data correct at time of publication.