Our mason was reliable and accurate, the work was very high quality and he took the trouble to discuss things with us at each stage to ensure we got what we wanted. Ripping the insides out of a 200 year old house and barn and casting open-plan floors went well and we have no criticism whatsoever. I think mutual respect carried us along in a good partnership. The carpenters were rather more arrogant but their work and materials were excellent, timekeeping was less good. The first plumber was a disaster (wanting to make too much profit on the parts and insisting we bought them from his supplier (we sacked him), the second was more helpful and let us buy what we wanted him to fit. Sadly he has since died and his son has upped his rates to a point beyond our budget (so we did the last bathroom ourselves). Even the good team were a bit intransigent, unable to understand why Phil insisted they dug out a bit more floor to take the drain for the shower (a wedi-panel giving us a hole-in the floor drain where they wanted to create a step up, based on the arbitrary and convenient height at which they had initially mounted the drain pipe for reasons known only to themselves). Our preference worked and the team agreed it did look better our way.
The first tiler was taking the mickey, doing an hour's work per day when it suited him. The next one was just qualified and working with his grown up son, and we were his first official customers, and he did a very good job.
Rendering was done by the father of one of the mason's former staff and he was probably working illegally but did an excellent job.
The electrics were done by a friend of a friend at mates rates. We were pleased with it all.
The small carpenter who did the staircase used excellent materials but miscalculated, so the stairs are steeper than we stipulated but he clearly wasn't going to enter into an argument so we put up with it.
The firm who did the air-air heat pump system and solar panel water heating did a good job at their convenience up to the last wall-mounted module whereupon they went bust. We got another guy to finish and re-gas the system and he charged VAT at both rates. When we pointed this out he resubmitted an invoice for the same total but altered the basic cost upwards! We were unable to contact him after that, another lesson from experience.
So, all in all, good artisans are not good timekeepers or administrators. In our area we are so close to Switzerland that they think we can afford Swiss rates (particularly us English who are, of course, all so rich), and they won't be able to do the job until the year after next anyway. The latter point is important - nobody trusts an artisan with time to fit in your job! Good artisans have jobs booked up for months or years. Allegedly.
I do believe, though, that project management is our responsibility, not theirs. If the client isn't able to do this then a project manager is needed. Fortunately I am married to one.