Where I started
I never thought I’d have a bathroom fitting business.
I set out to become a designer.
At University, I received a 1: 1 in the design and manufacture of consumer products.
After university I worked as an account executive at a design agency, where I worked with Aldi & Halfords to deliver packaging solutions.
I worked with international buyers, in house designers & artworkers, foreign suppliers, and printers……and I hated it.
I got made redundant and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I began refurbishing hotels in Yorkshire, pulling together the team of tradesmen I had developed over the past couple of years whilst I was developing buy to let properties with my dad on a part time basis.
Over the next few years I learned the trades myself through many varied projects, refurbishing hotels, bars, London apartments and large domestic houses around Yorkshire.
I loved learning all the trades, and I’ve always thought that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
I always knew that after I had gained the necessary skills, I wanted to do something more, so I started to build my own team.
I was frustrated trying to find decent tradesmen.
You may have suffered this frustration as well (and if you haven’t then good luck with your 1st project!)
I waited in for people that never showed up and kept me waiting when I had other stuff to do.
I waited in for people to get back to me when they said they would (and they never did)
I cleared up after tradesmen who have left the place in a complete mess at the end of the day because they just didn’t know the difference between a site & a home.
I remedied others peoples shoddy work.
I went through the small claims court to reclaim money owed to me.
It seems that in the corporate world professionalism is standard but in construction, it’s very much an option.
In building my current team I have hired and trialled probably hundreds of different local tradesmen across many different disciplines over the past decade and I can honestly say that I’ve been genuinely impressed by the skill and attitude of only a few.
I’ll reiterate that point.
Probably about 5%.
1 in 20.
That means that if you have the same luck as me in sourcing quality tradesmen that you can expect 1 in every 20 people you call to invite into your home to be what I would call ‘truly excellent at their job.’
And don’t forget, for a turnkey bathroom or en suite installation you may need several tradesmen:
- A labourer for ripping the old bathroom out
- A builder for fitting windows, knocking down adjoining walls and doing structural work
- A joiner to build stud walls, hang doors and fit skirting boards & architraves
- A plumber to fit the bathroom suite & amend drainage work
- A tiler to prepare & then tile the walls and/or floor
- An electrician to install lighting, fans, underfloor heating, shaver points etc
- A plasterer to overboard & skim the ceiling or board out & skim the walls
- A floor fitter to fit vinyl flooring or equivalent
- A painter & decorator to paint the walls and ceiling or woodwork to a high standard
Who has the time or inclination to try and find that many people, especially in a field that’s so beset with problems?
It’s like looking for a needle in haystack, and I do not envy homeowners tasks today, especially as they often do not even know what’s involved in the task they are hiring for (although downloading some of my guides will help in this regard.)
I went through more people than you can imagine and had to deal with more incidents than you would believe.
So when I reiterate that I truly know how tough it is to find great tradesmen you know I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt.
Here’s some of the things that tradesmen (on trial for my company at the time) have tried to pull in years gone by:
- A fully qualified plumber tried to hammer water pipes flat under a customers floorboards and move a wardrobe on top of them to hide the resulting bump in the floor.
- A few kept me waiting / never showed up to an interview or start date (does this sound familiar?)
- A supposedly reputable waste disposal firm once fly tipped my rubbish after I had paid them to dispose of it.
- I was informed by one customer that the local police may be calling me because a passer by had complained to them that a workman had shouted out of the window at them.
- I once had a couple of ‘time served’ plasterers skim an artex ceiling for me with inadequate preparation work, and had half the ceiling fall down a day later.
- I had another tradesmen start on a trial period only to disappear to a previous appointment 5 minutes later.
- I had a joiner ‘of 30 years experience’ put a door frame into an en suite stud wall that was 30mm wider at the top than the bottom. Maybe 1mm out per year of experience?!
- I had another ‘experienced’ tradesmen show up 2 hours late on more than one occasion during a week long trial period.
- I had a pair of plasterers take my customers’ ladders and cover them in plaster as they ‘thought they were only mine and not the customers’
I wanted to start a company that did things differently, and I had been so sick of trying to hire professionals that I decided to become one.
A bit like Ghandi really: “Be the change you want to see in the world” Ha ha
In 2014 I decided to specialize in bathroom installation as I already had excellent working relationships with a few key suppliers in this area, and had a tight knit team well versed in the standards I expected.
I rebranded as ukbathroomguru with a slight tongue in cheek mentality.
It wasn’t that I thought I knew everything, far from it – but it stood for a standard that I was aspiring to: to be known as the go-to person for en-suites, bathrooms & downstairs loos.
Despite the name, we are a humble team of tradesmen on a mission to deliver beautiful bathing spaces, but we never forget the origins of the company name and the high standards it alludes to.
Plus the design background is excellent for planning spaces and solving problems (which is why we’ve fitted en suites into tricky locations that others have thought impossible.)
Since our inception I have kept my team small and focused on delivering high standards.
I’ve recruited people from disparate fields and trained them up. One of our fitters used to lay patios and build engines, and now he’s one of the most valuable people on site: Need someone to weld a beam into place when knocking down a wall? Or perhaps someone to re-lay a patio when we’ve had to dig a trench for a drainage pipe when installing a downstairs loo……He’s your man.
We’ve developed young talent and taken on a coupe of apprentices in the past two years as well.
I am not interested in making a quick buck by snatching at job opportunities and farming the work out to subcontractors I barely know.
I don’t price match to competitors that use substandard materials and fitting practises with corners cut at every turn.
Everything we do (and don’t do) is done for a reason: to ensure that our installations are the best that they can be, and that they will last for years and years. And we publish the things that we do that others don’t, in our free guide to comparing quotes which can be downloaded here.
We deliver quality projects one at a time and that’s why we don’t flit from job to job, leaving unfinished work around every corner with customers pulling their hair out from having to flush their loo with a bucket for 3 weeks over xmas (a true story from a local plumber I subcontracted for in Leeds).
Basically, we do things the right way and we walk away from jobs that would compromise that ideal.
Thats why, we won a ‘Best of Houzz 2017’ customer service award, putting us in the top 3% of all providers on Houzz: