Guide #1

A tradesman's guide to paperwork

Paperwork is not the most exciting subject to read about. And it's even less fun to have to do. But it is a part of a tradesman's life and a job that is here to stay.

So whether you're just starting out, or a seasoned pro who needs a refresher, here is our guide to all paperwork.

Or, click here if you're looking for software to help with tradesman's paperwork.

1. Estimates

Generally speaking, a customer will often mix these up with quotes. And just in case you don't know the difference either, here's a definition of an estimate: an estimate is a best guess based on a tradesman's experience and expertise. It's usually done when a tradesman takes a look at the job required and may be jotted down on a scrap of paper or more professionally presented for a client's benefit. They don't go into detail, and it just gives an overall price.

2. Receipts

They're stuffed in pockets, at the back of vans, and in places where you can't remember putting them. But these are an important part of your paperwork. These all go towards your tax return at the end of the year, and they can help you when you're putting together invoices and quotes.


That leads nicely on to quotes. These are a fixed priced offer, and not a general 'guess' like an estimate. They generally list prices for individual parts of the job, for example labour prices and materials. Depending on whether your a scribble on a scrap of paper kind of worker or someone who likes everything spic span and professional, these go to the customer. The more professional looking a quote that you can send over, the more likely they are to have you to do the job. It takes a little extra effort at first, but once you've got the template done, it's a simple change that can make the world of difference.

4. Self Assessment Tax Return

This is the dreaded time of year for many tradesmen. Especially as it can take quite a while to do, and mistakes can lead to you being charged extra. Starting early, and keeping everything up to date is the key to tackling this.

5. Invoices

This is where it begins to get tricky, with what you must include and what you should include. Not only this, but they become useful when filling out your self assessment tax forms too. Then when you throw in the VAT on top of that, it begins to make many tradesmens' heads spin. But they are essential to give to your customer to get payment. Invoices give a rundown of the final costs of each individual part of the job, much like a quote, but in more detail. You also break out the VAT where it is applicable for each part that you're charging for.

The quicker you get an invoice done, the quicker you'll get paid - although that's probably obvious. It'll also make sure that you don't forget to add anything in there, plus if there are any discrepancies they can be sorted out quickly.

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