Professional Help & Advice

Avoiding Cowboy Builders


Avoiding Cowboy Builders

Cowboy builders are the scourge of the construction industry. Although they make up only a tiny minority of those working in the building trade they are out there, and it pays to know how to spot and avoid them. Major building alterations usually represent a large investment, and the dream of a new extension or loft conversion can quickly turn into a nightmare if you fail to choose a quality contractor to carry out the work.

We have all heard horror stories about rogue traders who wreak financial and emotional misery on unsuspecting homeowners by failing to deliver on their promises. This guide is designed to help you minimize the risk of hiring dishonest and/or incompetent tradesmen to undertake building work on your property.

Never rely on the innate honesty of others. Cowboys are likely to appear confident and friendly, making it hard to doubt their competence and sincerity. Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights and demand evidence of their ability to carry out work to the desired standard. After all, it's your money we're talking about! Reputable tradesmen will be happy to comply with your requests, recognizing your rights and concerns as the employer.

Warning Signs

Treat tradesmen with suspicion if they:

1) Insist on cash only, offer you money off for cash-in-hand, suggest that you can avoid paying VAT for cash and/or are very insistent on getting the cash straight-away.

2) Seem reluctant to give a business name or address or can only be reached by mobile phone.

3) Over-emphasize any faults.

4) Criticize rival builders in the area.

5) Offer you a surprisingly low quote.

6) Confuse you with jargon and technical explanations or insist that the details are not your problem, laughing when you suggest showing them plans.

7) Tell you that a written contract is not necessary or fail to provide any paperwork.

8) Are evasive when asked to provide references.

9) Say that they are unable to give costings because things may change.

10) Tell you they can start work immediately. A good builder is usually a busy builder!

If at any time you feel intimidated by a visiting tradesman, do not be afraid to ask them to leave and call the police.