Howe Tools has conducted research which reveals the expectations of friends and family members of tradespeople when asking them to perform discounted or free trade work. 

The company surveyed 2,000 people in the UK to reveal their typical expectations around hiring a friend/family member for trades work.

When time and skillset is in low supply, and something in our homes needs to be fixed or maintained, it’s often an easy option to go to a friend or family member in a trade and ask for some help. While pay is sometimes included in these deals, generous discounts, or ‘mates rates,’ can make the job unprofitable for the tradesperson.

In total, 81% of people expect discounts on work done by friends in a trade. This reveals that mates rates are a standard expectation when work is carried out, and suggests a pressure for tradespeople to provide discounts on a regular basis. With 43% of people claiming they’d be annoyed if they didn’t receive a discount from a friend in a trade, tradespeople could be put in an unfair position, choosing between friendships and earnings.

Over two-fifths (41%) of people would find an electrician the most helpful tradesperson to have as a friend or family member. Plumbers come in close second, with 39% of people finding them the most useful person in a group of friends.

In addition, even though living costs in London are three times higher than Sheffield, residents from Sheffield come out on top when it comes to expected mates rates, with 36% of people surveyed wanting discounts. London is in second, with 34% wanting discounts, and Glasgow is in third at 32%. In comparison, Belfast and Edinburgh are the best cities for tradespeople to be paid in full, with only 1 in 5 friends and family asking for mates rates, making them the lowest in the UK. Manchester comes in at 4th overall, with 31% wanting mates rates, while Liverpool is much lower, coming in at 12th, with a quarter wanting mates rates.

Tim Howe, Managing Director at Howe Tools, said: “A lot of tradespeople are happy to offer a little bit of discount here and there to loved ones to help them get the job done cheaply and efficiently. However, taking the survey results into account, it seems that some tradespeople could be missing out on some crucial hours of work based on the number of jobs they’re doing for friends and family.

"Success of a tradesperson can often come down to word of mouth, so it’s understandable why adding a discount here and there can be appealing in order to create more work, however, it’s a fine line between friends and family appreciating a discounted rate and coming to expect it.”