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How To Avoid Cowboy Builders



If you are thinking of having some building work done on your property, you will also be thinking about appointing a builder to do the work. Choosing a quality contractor to build a new extension or do internal alterations is very important. Everyone has heard horror stories about "cowboy builders" and the havoc they cause.

Always endeavour to use builders or tradesmen who are members of trade associations. There are no guarantees about the quality of their work but most should be reputable. These associations carry out checks on the builders before they gain membership status, therefore minimising the risk of choosing a "cowboy builder". All the associations have a code of conduct that members adhere to. There are a number of Builders Trade Associations, the following are the most common.

Quality Mark builders, Federation of Master Builders, National Federation of Builders

Links to these associations can be found on ourUseful Links Page




A Message from Catherine Hendrick, the Evening Mail's Consumer Editor.

"We've heard so many heartbreaking stories at the Evening Mail from people who've been conned by cowboys. Families have even handed over their hard-earned life-savings to rogue traders - only for them never to finish the work they've paid for.

Some cowboys have done such a shoddy job that their victims have had to find thousands of pounds to pay someone else to put things right. But despite the horror stories there are good builders out there. People just need to do their homework first and that's where organisations like the Building Consultancy come in. We're keen to help them, help you to root out the rogues and let Birmingham's honest, hard-working builders prove they're the best for the job".

  • Ask the builder for references and names of previous customers, try and speak to them and look at the work if possible

  • Get written quotes from two or three different builders

  • Ask for work to be covered by an insurance-backed warranty

  • Be clear about what you want done and ask for a written specification and quotation

  • Agree any staged and final payments before work starts

  • Avoid adding to the job or changing your mind halfway through, this leads to delays and extra costs

  • Avoid dealing in cash

  • If problems arise, speak to the builder straightaway: use the trade associations mediation and arbitration service if necessary

  • Look for a trade association member

  • If your work is complex ensure you commission a comprehensive set of building plans and specification, this will further cement the contract between you and your builder

  • Many architects/agents will also provide a site supervision service if required

  • Never pay for your work in advance of it being carried out