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10 things every tradesperson can relate to

3-minute read

Lauren Hellicar

Lauren Hellicar

13 June 2019

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From hilarious jokes on site, to clocking off early on a Friday – sometimes there’s nothing better than being a tradesman.

But beware, you’ll also need the patience of a saint when it comes to fixing DIY errors, dealing with HMRC and late-paying customers.

Earlier this year we took a look at the numbers to find out the top earning trades – and discovered that roofers earn the most, taking in an average turnover per person of £65,213.

Joiners took second place (£56,386) while electricians – the tradespeople most often associated with raking in the big bucks – came in third (£47,385).

Whatever you take in, though, there’s one big gripe that just about every tradesperson can relate to. Find out what it is below, along with nine other quirks, perks and grumbles that come with the territory.

1. Late-paying customers

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed that 50,000 small businesses go under each year because of the big problem of clients paying late. It affects tradespeople up and down the country and, standing at £2.5 billion, the cost to the UK economy isn’t small change either.

If you, like so many others, find this issue throws a spanner in the works when it comes to your cash flow, we’ve got the downloadable template to help sort that.

Download your free late payment letter template


2. People asking for ‘a quick favour’

‘I was just wondering….’ Four words that send shudders down the spine of every tradesperson.

Whether you’re an electrician, a plumber or a carpenter, you can guarantee it’s only a matter of time before a friend or family member asks you for the latest favour.

Sure, it might only take you an hour or so, but you don’t seem to remember asking them to work for free!

And it’s not just those close to tradespeople that are pushing their luck.

From babysitting to sweeping and hoovering, you can read more about the ridiculous customer requests tradespeople have to contend with, in our article revealing the 10 extra duties tradespeople get asked to do.

3. Being on the receiving end of pranks as an apprentice

You’ve been there, you’ve done that and you’ve looked for the replacement bubble for the spirit level.

Or perhaps you were told to fetch the left-handed spanner? It was all fun and games, and you look back and laugh. Besides, it made you the tradesman you are today.

…and then pranking the apprentice years later

And let’s not forget, you’ve also learnt a trick or two – tricks you’re now kindly passing on to the next generation on a daily basis…

4. Fixing DIY bodge jobs

You know how it goes. The call comes in for some work, only for you to get to the job and realise it’s far worse than anything you’d imagined.

Each year in the UK, an estimated £300 million is spent putting right the mistakes of DIY enthusiasts, and it’s tradesmen who bear the brunt – finding out a simple problem has been made worse by a wannabe builder is frustrating to say the least.

5. Nightmare dealings with HMRC

Nobody knows the struggle of dealing with HMRC more than the self-employed. It can be mind-boggling even when the tax authority gets it right – but what about when they get it wrong?

They’ve tried saying sorry for their blunders by sending flowers to make up for messing up people’s tax. They’ve even stooped so low as to fine a homeless electrician for not filing his tax return on time! Thankfully the judge saw sense.

6. That January scramble to sort your self-assessment

“Tax shouldn’t have to be taxing,” we’re frequently told. But crikey it is.

Whilst the organised tradespeople out there will have things wrapped up well in advance, there will of course be those anxiously searching for receipts and whatnot as the deadline approaches.

Get ahead of the game for next year with the help of our Self Assessment tax returns guide for self-employed tradespeople.

As if dealing with tax wasn’t enough to contend with, you also have to remember to renew everything from your public liability insurance to your CSCS card.

7. The tool theft epidemic

Tool theft is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – problems tradespeople face today, and it’s showing no signs of letting up any time soon.

We’ve seen it all, from tradesman chasing thieves stealing £1,200 of tools and punching their Ford Fiesta to vans being broken into in as little as six seconds.

Tools insurance can help protect you against this potentially livelihood-wrecking event – just make sure you’re up to speed on all the bits of information and evidence you’ll need to have to hand when making a claim. Our handy guide is a good place to start.

8. Rained-off days in the winter

Well, mostly the winter. But given the UK’s unpredictable climate, tradesmen are just as likely to be rained-off in autumn, spring and – as ridiculous as it is – even summer.

‘Saving for a rainy day’ takes a pretty literal meaning for those working outside in the UK.

9. …but then taking full advantage of working outside when it’s sunny

We may not get the most sunshine on these shores, but when we do – you sure make the most of it.

While your friends – usually smug in the winter – are sat inside, you’re outside working in the glorious 30-degree heat. Okay, more like 19-degree heat, but it’s still better than being inside.

10. When push comes to shove, you’d never swap your trade for a normal 9-5

You work with your mates, you love what you do and you’re your own boss.

Sat at a computer for eight hours or a hard day’s graft on site? You’d take the latter any day of the week.

Useful guides for tradespeople

Have we missed any? Tell us about anything else all tradesmen can relate to below.

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Lauren Hellicar

Written by

Lauren Hellicar

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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