Why is it so hard to find a contractor?

Arthur Online

By Arthur Online

31 May 2023

It’s no secret that the UK labour market has tightened over the past year, and skills are in high demand. If you’ve attempted any home repairs or maintenance recently, you’ll likely agree that “good” contractors are like four-leaf clovers. 



Rogue traders are ten a penny, threatening to delay any work by failing to show up as scheduled, charging over what they initially quoted and under-delivering. As agents, your out-of-office message won’t cut it for emergency repairs, leaving tenants in the lurch.

There are a lot of bad contractors out there, but the reality is there are a lot of excellent ones too. So, if you’re struggling to find one, chances are there’s something you haven’t considered. Here are four reasons you can’t find a good contractor:


1. You expect too much from contractors

With demand being at an all-time high, good contractors can cherry-pick their jobs. So, if you show any signs of being a nightmare customer when a problem arises, it’s unlikely they’ll want to help you fix it.

So, when assessing a contractor, don’t assume they need your business. Put your best foot forward and try to foster a good business relationship with them, and again, don’t push for the cheapest quote possible. Fixflo’s Network Manager, Dean Falvey, offered this dose of reality to us: “Tradespeople are in high demand and often have the luxury of picking and choosing who they work with… By establishing a reputation for prompt payment, providing detailed job specs and maintaining clear communication,  Agents can create an environment that appeals to tradespeople seeking reliable partnerships. Remember, cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship built on trust and respect benefits everyone and also ensures you have access to top-notch tradespeople who can deliver exceptional results.”

Worried you’re not appealing to contractors? Here are 3 ways to ensure top-of-the-line contractors will want to work for you.

It’s easy to forget that contractors are business people too. They have expenses to cover and profit to make. So don’t be surprised if they turn down your offer if you lowball your bid. 


2. You always take the lowest bid

“Good, fast, and cheap. Pick two. I’ll be able to send you a Contractor that embodies two out of the three. Just not all three.” says Tom Lopatosky from LOPCO Contracting.

When hiring, we look for a contractor who encompasses all of our desired qualities. We want them to be efficient, and punctual, have the highest quality tradesmanship, be licenced, qualified and insured… and give you the best price. 

Manage your expectations, or be prepared to pay more.

There are a lot of contractors who can cover many of the above qualities, but it’s likely they will be charging the highest prices, and it’s unrealistic to expect someone providing a lower quote to offer the same quality and efficiency to your project. 

To find the right contractor, write a list of what is truly important to you. If the project isn’t an emergency, maybe you can save a little money and go with a cheaper contractor who may take longer. If a tenant has an emergency repair, it’s probably best to only collect quotes from those you know can meet your tight deadlines, despite the extra cost. 


3. Your personal and professional goals don’t align 

If your interests aren’t aligned from the start, the likelihood of your job being completed to your satisfaction is slim. Quality is subjective, and so is style, so it’s a good idea to interview your contractor and get an idea of their past projects and how they work.

You’ll also want to make sure your needs line up with theirs. You’ll likely need someone to communicate well with you and your tenants, to keep everyone in the loop, but not all contractors will prioritise this. So, it’s worth looking for early signs of miscommunication. Delays in responses or incomplete answers to questions could be red flags indicating that you’ll have difficulty communicating with this person throughout the job. 

If you’re looking for someone who’ll communicate clearly with you and your tenants as the job progresses, you might want to look into using an app like Arthur that prompts your contractor to provide timely updates along the way.


4. Declining labour market

Covid and Brexit are probably two words you’re sick of hearing by now. But the consequences have been endless and they’ve played a huge part in the shortage of skilled workers the UK currently faces. 

Coronavirus restrictions limited overseas tradespeople’s ability to remain in or enter the UK to work, affecting some businesses’ ability to trade. Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of job search engine Adzuna, stated, “factoring in an existing shortage of skilled workers, plus the dip in overseas tradespeople bringing their skills to the UK due to the pandemic, demand for skilled professionals is at an all-time high”.

The end of free movement caused by Brexit has also played a part in exacerbating recruitment issues in the labour market. CEO of HomeServe, Richard Harpin, believes shortages are being caused by “mainly EU migrant workers going home” and added, “we are all living and working in our homes more, we want more doing, so I think this is an ongoing phenomenon.”

But this is by no means the full picture. A dip in apprenticeship take-up rates and increasingly early retirement are contributing factors. In fact, recent data suggests a record 1.2 million job vacancies in the construction and general building sector. The most common reasons reported for businesses struggling to fill gaps were a low number of applications and a shortage of qualified applicants. It was reported that there were only 17,700 new trade apprentices in 2021, a 21% drop from 2020.


What can you do about it?

In times like these, Arthur has your back. You can easily assign vetted, reliable contractors to jobs that your tenants log through the app, and they can communicate updates and progress with you through the messaging system..  

In just a few clicks, you gain:

  • Seamless access to contractors: Effortlessly connect with dependable, certified, and insured tradespeople with just a few clicks.
  • Job updates: Stay informed within the Arthur system as it automatically records a digital paper trail of all property works, providing you with instant updates as works progress.
  • Fixflo: With an Arthur-Fixflo integration, you gain data-driven performance insights plus a single communications channel for contractors, tenants, and property managers. You know what’s happening, when and how much it costs at every stage of a repair.


👋 Ready to see what we can do for you? Book a free demo.


Arthur Online

By Arthur Online

31 May 2023


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