The only real writing I've been doing recently is filling in large numbers on cheques. Because as you know, dear reader, moving into a new place means peering into dark corners to find out where that strange clanking noise is coming from, or going red and saying: 'I don't know' when the Electrical Engineer shows up and asks you where the electricity is switched off from. Further humiliation ensues when after spending two hours reading Boiler Maintenance Made Easy, you still have no idea why the red button is flashing so you ring up Boilerz and after half an hour of selecting 'Option 2: If you want to throw your boiler off a cliff' - someone answers and says: 'Oh no - that brand of boiler doesn't flash - it glows.' Round comes a teenage boy who scratches his arse for ten minutes before informing you that despite 'specialising' in the type of Boiler you have ie Shit Boilers Inc, they don't have the part you need, so will have to drive to Reading to get said part, at a cost of £80 plus VAT per hour.
Teething troubles I suppose and although a good friend has pointed out that it would be infinitely worse if I had discovered the boiler wasn't working one late night in January, rather than July (even though the weather seems identical - don't get me started) I feel that the last month has been a bit of a fiery baptism. I'm not good at understanding technical hoohaa and these Technical Manuals are Very Badly Written and utterly confusing. Added to that is the wealth of TV programmes featuring hard men chasing Bad Tradesmen down the street, leaving a trail of weeping, and bankrupt pensioners, and you are left thinking that men who come round to your house to fix stuff are Nearly Always Crooks.
Of course this isn't true at all. And so in the spirit of being a bit thick about this stuff and innumerate here are a few tips on getting in tradesmen when stuff breaks down. Told you I wasn't technical:
The two excellent tradesmen I've hired recently both recommended a site called DIY Not which is full of really useful tips from professionals and DIY experts.
I had my electrics sorted out from a company I found through Which. If you need some unbiased, consumer led guidance on who to hire and what to buy, you can't do better. They also have a section on recommended tradesmen.
Whatever job you need doing, always ask for at least three quotes in writing. If they baulk forget it. Never ever pay upfront for a job. Or agree to a lower rate for cash.
It's also reasonable for a professional to have a clear idea of how long it will take for them to do the job.
If at any point you don't understand what your trades person is talking about, say so. Ask them to explain and write it down because it is boring and you will forget it. But I am now proud to say that like Father Purcell in Father Ted (the most boring priest in the world, I can now hold my own in the world of boilers). Do you still fancy me?