How to avoid rogue traders and cowboy builders

We’ve all heard rogue trader horror stories and nearly everyone knows someone who’s had the misfortune to hire a cowboy builder, but what if it happens to you? Here are our top tips to help you avoid a building disaster!


Help in avoiding rogue traders and cowboy builders

1. Watch out for cheap quotes

Saving a few pounds is always great, but a really low quote could be a sign they’re inexperienced. Don’t cut costs. A reliable and genuine contractor is worth every penny.

2. Get everything in writing

Documentation is key and any reputable contractor will be happy to provide you with a written agreement or a signed contract. If it’s not in writing, don’t say yes.

3. Agree a schedule of work

Agreeing a schedule of work within your quote or contract means it has to be followed. If a contractor refuses, you’ll want to ask why.

4. Take references

If your contractor can’t provide you with references, it’s a red flag moment. Everyone has to start somewhere, but any builder worth his salt will come with a recommendation.

5. Don’t pay anything upfront

If you’re asked for money upfront, run the other way. Any honest, reliable builder will have a readily available cash flow.

6. Watch out for tax evaders

If a contractor only accepts cash then they might be acting dishonestly and not paying tax. Any established builder will charge VAT.

7.  Look for contact details

Always check the company contact details before agreeing terms.

8. Check what trade associations they belong to

If a contractor tells you they’re a member of a trade association, always double check their details are listed on the website.

What happens if something goes wrong?

If you’ve been let down by your builder, make the Citizens Advice Bureau your first stop. You can report a problem or simply ask for advice, and if you do need to take things further, they’ll help you report the contractor to Trading Standards.