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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk



Cowboy Contractors

A call is going out to householders to be wary of cowboy contractors offering to resurface drives or install dropped kerbs

Each year Birmingham City Council deals with dozens of complaints about the quality of new or resurfaced tarmac drives or dropped kerbs.

In most cases, our officers find the work has been carried out by a contractor who has knocked on the door, asked if the householder wants work done and then demanded payment in cash. But the quality of work is usually poor, with just a layer of tarmac laid over the existing drive without any foundation preparation.


Make sure you do not fall victim to the tarmac rip off.
  • We (Birmingham City Council) or contractors working on our behalf will not knock on your door and offer you a cheap dropped kerb.
  • Only Contractors who have permission from us can work on the highway.
  • It is illegal for any one to dig up or leave materials on the highway without permission from Highways.

  • We will charge for inspecting 'illegal' dropped kerbs. If the work is not satisfactory we will order the work to be redone or removed. The householder will have to pay for this.

We are particularly concerned about gangs who claim they are working for the Council. They target areas where legitimate road work or resurfacing is taking place, knock on doors and tell a story about having some tarmac left over.

Council workers do not work in this way - if they did, it would be illegal.

To make sure you do not become a victim of the tarmac rip off, make sure that you:
  • Do get several quotes for resurfacing driveways, prices vary enormously.
  • Don't be tempted by contractors who turn up on your doorstep uninvited.
  • Do use a reputable contractor. Many will belong to a trade organisation, check with the organisation if you are not sure.
  • Don't be fooled by business cards and paperwork - often addresses are fake and the telephone number is mobile.
  • Do get a written contract of what will be done.
  • Don't be pushed into paying cash - reputable firms will accept cheques.
  • Do ask friends and neighbours for their recommendations, and if you can see the work they have had done.
  • Don't part with any money until the work is complete and you are happy with the job.
  • Do get a receipt, preferably with a guarantee.
  • Don't believe what they say about "working for the council nearby" "having a bit of tarmac leftover" "discounts as we are in the area"

Further handy hints and tips are attached in the Cowboy Contractors Information Leaflet.

For more information you can read the Dropped Kerbs page or contact:

The Dropped Kerb Team
PO Box 37
B4 7DQ

Tel: 0121 303 7577/7621 (Open: Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm)

Trading Standards
Tel: 0800 413 381