Cowboy Builder Guide


Building Regulations are a set of minimum standards for the design and construction of buildings. This is to ensure the safety, health and welfare of people who use and go around those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and that facilities are provided for people with disabilities. Before you start any building work you need to check if you need building regulations approval. As the owner of a building you are held responsible.

1. No References

A reliable professional will always be more than willing to show off their best work and give references. If they brush off your request, then this may be a sign that they have no good references.

2. Door to Door Marketing

Reputable builders wouldn’t really go around knocking on people’s doors to get work.

3. A Quote Too Good to be True

If something sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Quotes will vary from firm to firm but always get at least 3 quotes. Sometimes a very cheap quote could mean they are not experienced enough to give accurate figures.

Cowboy builder closeup

No Contract

Always, always get a contract when you choose your builder. Paper is a solid foundation when it comes to building work. You want estimates of how much the work will cost, how long it will take, and a legally binding written contract, and make sure they sign it! Without a contract, they could end up charging you more, intentionally extending the completion date, or denying that they ever agreed to do such things.

Upfront Payment

It’s a huge no no if a building company asks for payment up front. In your written contract you should both agree on when payment will be made. A reliable builder will be happy to receive payment on completion or at stages.

No Official Presence

Always check out the company details, ring the phone number, google the address, check out the website/Facebook etc. If there are no details of the company online then does the company exist?

What to do if you’ve fallen victim to a rogue trader

If you suspect you have hired a builder who isn’t meeting the agreed terms and conditions, whose work isn’t of high enough standard, or if they fail to show up on site, the first thing to do is to try and speak to the builder. Keeping communication going is key to ensuring any queries or concerns are addressed.

If the builder isn’t communicating or if you are still not satisfied, the next step is to contact a regulatory body – Trading Standards or the Consumer Ombudsman.

Reporting a problem to Trading Standards

Trading Standards deal with complex consumer problems and potential criminal activities. Firstly, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline and tell them you want to report a trader to Trading Standards. The consumer helpline will assess your problem and pass it on to Trading Standards.

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