Cowboy Builder or The Real McCoy?
It’s really hard to identify Cowboy builders but they are the bane of the construction industry. We witness a lot of drama caused by cowboy builders and although they only make up a tiny percentage of builders, they have a severe impact on the reputation of builders generically and it pays to know how to identify and avoid them.
We have all heard the horror stories about cowboy builders who wreak emotional and financial misery by targeting unsuspecting homeowners by failing to deliver on their promises. This list of tips is designed to help you filter out the dishonest tradesmen and to find yourself a great reputation builder to undertake any building work including kitchen fitting or loft conversions on your property.
Never employ a builder who:
- Knocks on your door and claims to be working on another project down the road and have a truck full of spare concrete and do you want it.
- Stops by to tell you that they’ve seen a serious exterior crack in your brickwork and can offer their services to ‘repair’ it for you quickly.
- Claims he can start the job the next day. This indicates he has not other work on and, as most quality builders are really busy, that would be a tad suspicious.
- Only has a mobile phone number. No land line means he is not traceable. Good builders may work from home but they will not be frightened to give you their number and address.
- Insists on cash to ‘reduce the bill’. Always insist on a written receipt on a piece of headed paper. Remember that if you pay cash there is no proof that they ever did the job.
- Uses too much jargon. Cowboy builders do have an infuriating habit of trying to confuse you with unnecessary jargon. Make sure your builder explains everything to you in clear terms that you fully understand.
Ways to find a good reputable builder:
- Ask your architect
- Ask your project manager
Ask people you trust for recommendations; family, friends, colleagues who have had building work done in their house. Key questions to ask about their builder: Was their timekeeping good? How was quality of work good? Were they polite? Was their language or behaviour in any way intimidating? Was any guarantee given on the work? These questions should help you identify a more trustworthy builder.
- Searching Google for e.g. builders in Oxfordshire, will bring up results of tradesmen in the area. Look out for reviews left by other customers, as well as any photographs of their work.
- Stay away from random online directories as anyone can apply for a free listing posting unverified information. If you feel that this is a last resource, again make sure to look for companies with a landline telephone number, a website and hopefully even a registered VAT number.