I’ve been watching a lot of Holmes on Homes, and Income Property on HGTV recently and I’m flabbergasted by the shady quality of workmanship that goes on these days. I’m pretty sure there is an actual Cowboy Builder show on HGTV as well. When you employ a builder or a contractor, it places them in a position of trust – and when that trust is broken, it can have major financial consequences – especially as bad repair work may not be covered under home insurance policies. According to research from Which? carried out in 2011, rogue traders and bad builders left 2 in 5 people out of pocket in the preceding three years, with a quarter owed at least 0, and 1 in 10 claiming they had lost more than ,000. Follow these tips on how to spot a cowboy builder to make sure you don’t end up losing out.
Spotting a cowboy
Many of us think we can spot a shady customer a mile off, but cowboy builders are often personable, enthusiastic and easy to contact at the beginning, so proceed with caution if your builder does any of the following:
- Refuses to accept a cheque, offers cash discounts or demands money up-front
- Provides hand written documents with little information
- Won’t provide a contract or refuses to sign a contract you give them
- Provides a detailed quote and schedule but doesn’t stick to it
- Offers a suspiciously cheap quote that’s out of step with the going market rate
What you should ask your builder
A good builder will be happy to answer your questions and won’t be offended if you check their credentials. When meeting with builders always ask about the following:
- The length of time they’ve been trading
- The experience they have of the type of work you need carried out
- Whether they can supply references
- Whether you can visit a recent project they’ve completed
- How their quoting system is set out and whether they break down the cost of materials and labour within their quotes
- Whether they’re working on other projects which could delay the start of yours
- Whether they have insurance-backed guarantees or public liability insurance
Don’t let cowboy builders get away with it!
There are lots of reasons rogue traders and cowboy builders get away with doing a bad job and continue to work. To avoid falling into a cowboy trap, make sure you always do the following when hiring a builder or tradesman:
- Make sure your builder belongs to a professional body or is an approved contractor
- Get a detailed contract
- Avoid paying cash
- Get references and verify them
- Be prepared to wait – a good builder is always busy!