Ten Ways You Can Spot a Cowboy Builder

We are all probably familiar with the expression cowboy builder, in fact my buddy Dom Littlewood has a great TV show by the same name, Dom is well known for tackling these dodgy tradesmen who fleece their customers with their poor and often dangerous working practices. But of course it would be great if we could spot the rotten apples before we part with our hard earned cash.

Cowboy builders don’t only fleece people for cash, but quite often they ruin lives too leaving people’s homes in ruins, so here we bring you a list of things to look out for which are a sure fire way of spotting those dodgy builders and tradesmen.

  1. They will be available immediately for work, always a bad sign this, it’s like an empty at peak times, if no one else wants them then there is probably a good reason for it.
  2. They won’t have references to provide you with, If they can’t give you a reference it’s because they can’t get a good one, you want to see at least two ideally three or more, and from local people who you can verify with too.
  3. They will provide an exceptionally cheap quote, this is one area you don’t want to be buying cheap, this is your home and you are making an investment, pay for quality and get quality, the cheapest quote for building work should always go into the no pile.
  4. They won’t have a registration or license to show you, If they can’t provide you with credentials then stay away, look for things’ like being a member of the federation of master builders, and double check to ensure they are not bluffing or lying.
  5. They won’t have a landline or address, major red flag this one, if they don’t have a landline or a verified address don’t even get a quote.
  6. They will ask you to pay in cash, in this day and age anyone asking for cash only is likely to have a reason which isn’t good, cash can’t be tracked and it’s difficult to prove you handed it over, if they want cash say no.
  7. They won’t have a clear timeframe for finishing the project, being vague about deadlines etc is a major worry, if they can’t give you a clear schedule walk away.
  8. They don’t have a history, we all have to start somewhere, but my advice is simple, they don’t have to start out they career with you as their first client; let someone else take the risk.
  9. They won’t explain the work they’re doing to you, a good builder will take some time to explain what their plan of action is, they will talk you through the stages and keep you informed, and they should also put a plan of action in writing with set time scales which you both agree on at the start.
  10. They will refuse to sign a contract, if they won’t give you or sign your contract then don’t bother, you need to know you have something you can fall back on if it all goes wrong and you end up in court, if they refuse then you know they don’t expect to be able to complete the job well.

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