How to Avoid Rogue Builders

small house

The Wild West era may be over but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still cowboys around.

Anyone who’s watched daytime TV should be familiar with the concept of a cowboy builder – but did you know that there’s an easy 10 step process to ensure that you don’t fall victim to one?

1) Make sure the sums add up

Tradesmen often like to be paid in cash to avoid tax. Not only is this in dodgy legal territory (HMRC are as likely to go after your records as theirs) but it means there is no paper trail to fall back on if things go pear shaped. Another strong vote of confidence will be whether the builder is VAT registered as any company with a significant turnover will usually register for VAT.

2) Up-front payments

By all means be up front with your builder, but be careful about fronting up your cash. See point three.

3) A rush job could be a botched job

Rogue builders often start multiple works in an area – collect their initial payments – and then move on to the next lot of unsuspecting customers. A builder in a hurry is a sign of someone who may have other things on their mind.

4) If it’s too good to be true…it’s probably too good to be true

Be sure to get at least two quotes for your work and three if possible. That will allow you to spot the odd one out. A super cheap quote may be an attempt to lure you into a nightmare of hidden costs and shoddy work. Quality does come with a matching price tag.

5) Watch the clock

Your builder’s willingness to set out goals and timelines, and their ability to stick to them, will be a strong indicator of their professional attitude.

6) Not worth the paper it’s written on

Get something in writing or live to regret it. If the builder is not forthcoming with a written estimate, it’s because they don’t intend on being tied down by the specs.

7) Sign on the dotted line

A signed contract will give you some protection against rogue builders from a legal standpoint, but it’s not fool proof. See point eight.

8) Do your background checks

Are they a member of a registered company?
What comes up when you google that company?
Are they a member of a trade association?
Can they provide satisfactory references?

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions then think again about who you hire. Nowadays references are even easier to obtain online via services like Check a Trade and Rated People, as well as neighbourhood websites like Streetlife. If you can’t find any sign of your builder online then that is a red flag.

9) A bad builder will blame their tools

Turning up to the job with incorrect equipment is a sure sign that your builder is not up to the job. Remember that if you get a bad feeling, it’s better to pull out early than try to negotiate when the building work is half finished and your house is crumbling around you.

10) Are they local?

Word of mouth is an even better way of getting a reference than online. Have you seen your builder’s vans or advertising in the area? Do they have a landline and a physical address? If your builder has built up a reputation in your area then they are likelier to be reliable.

If you’re looking for a reliable building company contact Jon Pritchard today. We have years of experience in the business and hundreds of satisfied clients.