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Trades Say the Funniest Things

Now when I say funny, it’s only funny after the project has finished. You know when you’ve had a glass of wine and you’re looking back at all that hard work and reflecting on all the “bloopers”. It’s funny then, but in reality, what I mean is ‘annoying’.

I spoke about this somewhat last year when we were doing our loft conversion. If I had a pound for every time I heard, “You can’t do that” or saw this face:

I’d be sitting pretty on a few hundred, I tell thee! And you know what, it’s exhausting having to constantly clue everyone up on new products and slightly more creative uses of materials. If I wasn’t quite as stubborn I would have just relented… but I didn’t.

Exposed brick. Poplar plywood floorboards. Conduit lighting. All from last year’s big build.

Only last week, I spent about 20 minutes trying to convince an electrician that you could get bathroom light switches that are IP rated and suitable for zone 2.

“Yes, yes you can.”

I’ve seen them. I’ve actually used one.”

“My dad has one in his bathroom”

Yes, it got signed off by the building inspector!”

“**sigh** Ok here, here’s the bloody link to it.”

**clicks SEND in assertive (slightly smug) manner**

And… FYI, you can actually get bathroom switches for Zone 1, right in the shower or by the bath. Where all you need to do is tap the tile. It’s not even a switch, it’s a sensor that’s fitted in a cavity behind your tiled wall. Very cool. But who’s going to fit that then? The sceptic sparky? I don’t think so. He’s going to want to fit this init!?

Ooh that’s nice. A nice shiny, chrome rose with nylon pull cord that’s going to turn brown in about four weeks after everyone’s hands have been yanking at it. Perfect, that’s exactly the look I was going for. I’ll have two please.

One. Two.

The top three things we natter about over at the Interior Design Collective are:

  • Product sourcing (time is money, so if we can find something quickly it makes our budget stretch that little bit further)
  • Tricky clients (some of them are slippery eels and we need to vent. Apparently, it’s bad customer service to shout at them directly)
  • Trades (surprise!)

I’d bet my life savings (£68.56p) that every other interior designer has these in their top three gripes too. And just to prove it’s not just me being a moaning minnie, here’s some of the funny (annoying) stories the IDC ladies have shared over in the group.

“That time I got a Barbican sink for a cloakroom, and the builders all thought it was a urinal.”  – Emilie Fournet


“When I did my last ensuite I paid a fortune for old style brass looking fittings and the plumber asked whether these were the ones that were being binned as they looked so old fashioned…..”  –  Fiona Duke


“I was handed back a box of antiqued mirror by my contractor saying they looked faulty with blotches in them IN FRONT OF THE CLIENT!!!! Amazing work, thanks tradesman!”  –  Cathy Dean


“A bit like telling the electrician today I wanted the vintage look cable from the ceiling rose, and no it’s not a mistake they’ve sent me ‘old looking stuff’. Got to love the trades!”  –  Cathy Dean

And it seems based on some of the feedback I had on this blog post (where I asked you, my lovely readers what kind of posts you wanted on this ere blog), some of you guys struggle to find good trades too. It’s an epidemic! GOOD TRADES, YOU ARE LIKE GOLD-DUST.

Where the flip are you? Why aren’t there more trades that are willing to learn new techniques, use different materials, be creative? I don’t get it… Despite doing up two houses and being in “the biz” for three years, i’ve still yet to find myself several go-to trades, the current needle in the haystack is an excellent tiler. Anyone in Leeds? 

This difficulty in bagging good trades makes it really difficult when you might want to use a different product or finish in a project. It’s all well and good having all the ideas… but someone’s got to be able to execute it. And despite me being a complete control freak, I just ain’t got time to master the application of micro-cement.

So people, have you got a tradesperson that you swear by? If so, please pop their details in the comments below and where they’re based, because sharing is caring. And if any trades are reading this who’d like to big themselves up… then do! The more the merrier. You’re a bloody nightmare to find so don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Oh and share this post… we need to find as many good trades as we can. All over the UK. Let’s go…!




  1. Oh this made me giggle but you forgot the bits where WE say things to the tradesmen such as “Should we go upstairs and start in the bedroom!”

  2. Ahaha. Yep. Like the time I dropped in on my kitchen fit to find our builder in the process of trying to fit our £45/m matt rubber flooring UPSIDE DOWN. The speckled underside was more interesting apparently. He’d cut it to size too. That was fun.

  3. This made me chuckle! We’ve had some nightmare traders. An electrician who thought he was a tiler, who did such a bodged job that the tiles were actually SLIDING DOWN the wall. And then the guys who built our porch, leaving us with half a shell for a week, and telling us to get a padlock to keep the inside porch door secure. Oh dear. The joys eh! I laugh now, but at the time it was…..ANNOYING!

  4. Sarah says

    We found a builder mixing cement in our beautiful arts and crafts home directly on the waxed stunning hundred year old floor boards, adding his cigarette ash to the mix. He said he assumed we would be putting carpet down. Despite having been told to take care of them. Needless to say he didn’t last long. And an electrician who fitted a glass pendant lamp low enough for the door to hit it. And anyone ever try to find a floor sander willing to stain boards rather than varnish them in Liverpool / Merseyside / outside London?

    • Karen Knox says

      Oh my bloody god! I would have sent him an invoice for the repairs! That’s awful.
      And even if you were putting carpet down… still doesn’t excuse that kind of total disrespect to someone’s house. Am angry for you Sarah!

  5. cliff knox says

    Went to 1 large lighting specialist and 2 large electrical trade outlets and was told the same.
    ‘Don’t do it mate, switch in a bathroom?’
    ‘You’ll have to have the switch on the landing for the bathroom or pull switches inside’
    I’ve encountered this a lot with trades and outlets, you can’t put laminate floor on a wall to make a whole wall headboard, yes you can.

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