A quarter of property owners find it hard to hire good plumbers, according to research commissioned by Toolstation.

The research found that 27% of UK homeowners said it had been 'really difficult' to find a plumber. In comparison, only 7% struggled to find a qualified tradesperson for tiling, flooring or kitchen fitting.

The homeowners also said plumbing was the home improvement task they would be most likely to hire a professional tradesperson for. Half (50%) said they'd call a local plumber or heating engineer following a system breakdown, with only 36% opting to contact a national supplier. Over a fifth of those surveyed said hiring reliable general builders and electricians is also a challenge.

While searching for a professional to hire, property owners still prefer to rely on their own list of tried and trusted tradespeople, with nearly half opting to use someone they had hired previously. When that fails, they speak to family, neighbours, colleagues or nearby friends for their recommendations. Interestingly, less than 4% rely on recommended tradespeople websites and prefer instead to use the local paper to help them make their decision.

John Meaden, director of marketing at Toolstation, said: "Our research shows that finding the right tradesperson is important to homeowners, with trust and satisfaction of the job being the highest priorities. Word of mouth recommendations are still the most trusted method of hiring tradespeo-ple. It will be interesting to see if there is a shift to online selection in the future with the growth of social media and trade review websites."