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Can You Trust a Cheap Decorator?

By Mike Cupit


I’m not sure whether this question gets asked, but it should do. I see posts all the time on local Facebook pages from people asking for recommendations regarding decorators. You always get “tradesmen” chirping up saying they’re cheaper than everyone else. You see people asking for “cheap decorators” to carry out x,y and z.


If a decorator is running a legitimate business, they can not be “cheap”. I’ll explain why…


Let’s say you find a cheap decorator is charging £100 per day.


A decorating business is like any other, in that it has running costs. Liability insurance, tool insurance, income protection insurance, marketing, tool maintenance, keeping a van on the road. The list goes on. As a decorator, my running costs are just north of £30 per day.


The decorator charging £100 per day is now on £70.


10% of a decorators’ earnings should go back into the business before he or she takes an income.


The decorator charging £100 is now on £63.


A self-employed decorators’ day does not start and end while they’re on a paid job. They generally spend their evenings viewing jobs, contacting clients to talk through colour and dates, completing admin and washing or organising their tools. An 8-hour day becomes 10 hours.


The decorator charging £100 is now on £6.30 per hour.


But that isn’t the same as earning £6.30 as an employed person. A self-employed decorator needs to account for sick pay and holiday pay.


The decorator charging £100 is earning roughly £5 per hour. Which is about half minimum wage, and that’s before breakages and unexpected costs!! What a decorator charges needs to cover every expense associated with running a business.


So, can you trust a cheap decorator? If a tradesman offers to carry out any work for as little as £100 a day, would you feel comfortable hiring them? Would you assume they know their craft well and have years’ of experience?


Not for me! Red flags straight away as soon as a tradesman tries to convince me they’re “cheap”. Hire a professional, not a cowboy. Especially if you’re going to have them in your own home.

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