Finding competent, reliable, affordable, honest and user-friendly tradespeople is an issue most people have to deal with at some time. There is no foolproof answer: professional bodies such as Gas Safe Register, NIC-EIC, NAPIT etc, maintain lists of members, indicating a degree of competence. Commercial certification schemes such as Checkatrade, Trustmark and some local authority (but not Reading) approved trader schemes try to vouch for the quality, reliability and integrity of tradespeople they list. There is word-of-mouth recommendation, either person to person or by asking on mailing lists or social media. And there are directories such as the Little Green Book and informal, user-contributed directories such as the University's Handy Persons web page which try to capture word-of-mouth recommendations.
Reality check: Tradespeople are human: they have strengths and weaknesses, they have off days and make mistakes, they get on better with some people than others, and they have home lives with personal and family issues to deal with. One person's dream tradesperson who turned up on the dot, did an excellent job quickly, at an amazingly reasonable price and was a delight to be around could be another person's Trader From Hell. Some tradespeople will more consistently do better work than others, some will be more reliable than others, some cheaper or more expensive than others, some will communicate more clearly, some will be better than others at getting on with a wide range of people. Few have the best of all qualities.
Gas installers (plumbers qualified to work on gas) have to be registered with Gas Safe Register which has a Find an Engineer search page.
Oil: Heating engineers qualified to work on oil burning systems can be found through OFTEC's Locate a Registered Technician page.
Electricians should be registered with competent persons schemes, which are run by several different organisations, which have their own search pages:
The Little Green Book has listings of tradespeople recommended by customers (although the tradespeople also have to pay to be listed in the directory. It is organised into sections for Reading, Wokingham and other nearby areas.
The Ding's own Facebook group should become a useful place to ask for tradesperson recommendations.
For local women the Facebook Caversham Gossip Girls group has a huge number of members.
The University's Handy Persons page used to be a useful resource but it is no longer maintained and increasingly out of date (and not available from the University's own site now unless you have a Uni login - this link is to the Wayback Machine's saved copy).
Here is the start of a Ding directory of local tradespeople and similar.
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