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5 Tips for Avoiding Cowboy Builders

Tue, 22 Nov 2016



This article refers to a recent Home Buyers Survey.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, there are approximately 85,000 complaints about home building works each year. With the average homeowner knowing little about how repairs should be carried out, this leaves them open to being taken advantage of by so-called ‘cowboy builders’. To avoid this, just follow our five top tips.

5. Say no to cold callers

Many people know this one already, but it might still be tempting to take an offer from a seemingly friendly face when they’re already stood on your doorstep. Usually these “deals” will sound too good to be true (hint: that’s because they are) but even the best of us can be fooled sometimes. As a rule, don’t ever hire anyone that you haven’t sought out yourself, or at least looked into beforehand.

4. Get written quotes to seal the deal

Regardless of who’s doing the work, you’ll want to get everything in writing, even if you know the builder personally. Without getting every detail of the quote written down, how can you prove that something was agreed on? Even if the builder isn’t deliberately trying to scam you, without a written quote, a simple miscommunication can mean you don’t get what you wanted.

3. Don’t pay up front

While some builders will need a small deposit to cover the cost of materials and to cover their backs, you equally need to cover yours. If you pay a large lump up front, how can you ensure the work is done properly, or at all? If your builder doesn’t turn up for work one day, or does a poor job, you are under no obligation to pay him in full, and then you can use the money to pay someone better, with no loss to you.

2. Get more than one quote

When you do any kind of shopping, you never buy the first thing you come across, do you? Whether it’s a car, a conservatory, or a can of soup, it pays to shop around. Get a few different quotes then compare them, but not just on price. You’ll also want to look into the builder’s reputation, what quality materials they’ll use and the cost, as well as if they will include any revisions if you’re not happy. Make sure you’re comparing quotes like for like, then go with the best one.

1. Do your homework

The number one thing you can do to avoid cowboy builders from potentially damaging your home, is to do your homework. Research the company thoroughly before you book them. Look at their website, read a number of reviews online, and see what people are saying about them on social media. If they’re dodgy, you’ll either find a lot of angry reviews, or nothing at all. Either situation is a red flag that you should probably look elsewhere.

If you’re worried that you’ve had some bad building work done, or you’re just looking for some advice, give us a call on 0800 038 6667 or use our quick quote system to see how much it will cost for a survey to detect any building flaws in your home.

Click for more information, or to arrange a HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey.