Ever heard the horror stories of those unfortunate souls tangled up with cowboy builders? They're the shadowy figures posing as trustworthy "professionals," but in reality, they're more mess-makers than builders, leaving a trail of chaos in their wake.
Fear not, for in the quest to shield yourself from these crafty charlatans, we've got your back. How do you ensure that your hard-earned cash stays firmly in your pocket? How do you sidestep the pitfalls of shady dealings and shoddy workmanship?
Worry not, as our expert advice is your shield against the lurking dangers. Let's navigate the construction minefield together and ensure your project is in the hands of true professionals, not the cowboys who ride off into the sunset leaving chaos behind.
1: Do Your Homework
That small crack in the ceiling has suddenly become a big, black gaping hole. That dripping tap has finally drove you to breaking point. You know the story - sometimes, things go wrong and you need them fixed, pronto. But when a job needs urgently doing, it can be tempting to hire the first person who comes along and offers to fix it. A word of warning: don’t!
Remember that what cowboy builders say and what cowboy builders do are two completely different things. Before you hire anyone (no matter how quickly you need the job done!), make sure you have proof of what work the builder has done, rather than what they have said they’ve done or can do. One of the most reliable ways of validating a builder’s skills and reliability is by word of mouth recommendation. Ask your family, friends or work colleagues if they’ve dealt with the builder before. If they have, ask to see completed work. There’s no better way to check out a tradesperson than by asking someone who has had first-hand experience in dealing with them. Every cowboy builder can “talk the talk”; it’s down to you to check if they “walk the walk”.
Getting word-of-mouth recommendations from people you know and trust will give you the opportunity to judge a builder’s previous work for yourself and to receive honest answers to any questions you may have. Remember that a builder can show you fake photographs, false testimonials and empty promises, but genuine customers have no reason to be anything other than completely honest.
2: Check Them Out
If you’re dealing with a building firm that you haven’t heard of before, check to see if they are listed on TrustMark. If they are a TrustMark Registered Business, you will know that the organisation has been thoroughly vetted to meet required standards and has made a considerable commitment to good customer service, technical competence and trading practices. Bear in mind, however, that while Trustmark is not-for-profit, it is a government backed scheme where tradespeople must register through a Scheme Provider (such as Magnet for kitchen fitters or Dulux for painters/decorators) which do have a profit motive.
Which Trusted Traders have built their business around offering trusted consumer advice, rather than making a commission from traders. This scheme can be a good place to check whether your builder is reputable, but it is aimed at larger businesses that may charge a premium.
3: Contact the Trading Standards Institute’s CCAS (Consumer Codes Approval Scheme).
Did you know that PropertyHeads has spent hundreds of hours working to compile a Tradesperson Blacklist? As a PropertyHeads user, you can discover hundreds of rogue traders from all over the UK, including ex-police offers and members of the armed forces! You’ll even come across rogue tradespeople who have been convicted of £1m+ frauds as well as convicted murderers! Even the people we least expect can fool victims into thinking they’re a reputable tradesperson, and this list is a true eye opener!
4: Check for National and Mandatory Schemes
Before you say, “you’re hired!”, check to see if the trader is a member of a National Trades Scheme and also whether they’re part of a mandatory scheme such as Gas Safe or NICEIC. it is a legal requirement for gas fitters and electricians to be members of Gas Safe and NICEIC respectively. If your trader can not provide you with these certificates (no matter how genuine their excuses may seem), do not allow them to carry out work on your home. If your builder isn’t certified, they could not only put your safety at risk, but your home insurance could be invalidated.
Before you allow a trader to carry out work on your property, it’s always worth finding out exactly what schemes they’re part of. Some good value schemes, such as FENSA, offers consumers genuine benefits, while others such as Dulux, simply take a commission from the painter with very limited benefits to the consumer.
5: Work with Us!
If you’re like many people, you may have considered asking for local recommendations on social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. While this can be a good way of finding builders that people trust, there can be a lot of “traffic” to cut through. Another thing to be mindful of when looking on social media for recommendations is that people have a tendency to refer people that they’re friends with, rather than people they have actually worked with. So who do you ask? Because you can’t ask everyone! When you’re looking for referrals, it can sometimes be difficult to know who to ask.
And that’s where PropertyHeads comes in.
When you search for a tradesperson through us, you’ll only be put in touch with the companies that are most connected to you via your existing network of friends and colleagues. We reduce risk; giving you peace of mind that your building job is in the right hands.
Added: February 12, 2019 16:57:58