Tips for guarding against rogue builders
Do you consider yourself a bit of a handy Andy?
Do you consider yourself a bit of a handy Andy? Or is the idea of spending your precious weekend wallpapering the back bedroom duller than watching paint dry? Whatever your attitude to DIY, there are some home improvement jobs where it makes sense to call in the professionals.
Take building work, for instance. Getting things wrong by doing it yourself can prove costly. And if the job involves structural work, it is likely to be a condition of your home insurance policy that you don't tackle it yourself. But how can you be sure that the builder you get for the job doesn't turn out to be a cowboy?
Firstly, it's wise to plan ahead. Before you get ahead of yourself, keep in mind the fact that hiring reputable builders can be expensive. One of the ways to finance the cost of building work is to consider taking out a home improvements loan. But before making any final decisions you should always consider whether this is the right option for you, and also whether you could comfortably manage the monthly repayments.
How to spot a rogue
Think you could tell a cowboy from a genuine builder just by using your instincts? Think again, advises Which? magazine. Rogues may come across as polite, charming and professional - it's in their interest to be likeable. They may even produce a fake ID to prove they are members of various trade organisations knowing that most people won't check.
But there are some other warning signs to look out for. Be wary of those who only provide a handwritten quote that doesn't go into much detail. Rogue traders may not offer a contract or will find excuses not to sign the one you offer them. A huge warning bell should ring if they only offer a mobile number as a point of contact.
Other tell-tale signs include builders who come knocking on your door - legitimate builders probably don't have time to cold call people. Look out for people with unmarked vans, anyone who quotes suspiciously cheaply and can start straight away, or someone who demands a large payment up front.
How to avoid a rogue builder
According to the Telegraph, there are several ways you can prevent yourself falling prey to a cowboy. For starters you should be suspicious of a builder who demands to be paid only in cash - it follows that if a builder is avoiding the tax man he may not be honest with you, either. Similarly, you should never pay up front as many rogues ask for money early on then disappear and stop taking your calls.
Research is also key. Look online for evidence that the firm has been around longer than three years. If it hasn't, ask why not. Make sure they really are a member of that accredited scheme, and check that their membership actually means they're properly vetted. Ask the builder for at least three references and ask if you can go with them to visit a recent job.
How to find the right person for the job
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) believes that the best way to find a builder is always by acting on personal recommendations from family and friends. But there are other schemes around designed to make sure you find someone honest.
The FMB has their own Find A Builder service that lets you search for professional, vetted builders in your area. There are other schemes available such as Checkatrade, RatedPeople and MyBuilder, but some have more rigorous vetting procedures than others, according to the Telegraph. It always pays to do your own research - and if something doesn't sit right with you, it may be in your interest to avoid that particular builder.
Issued by Sainsbury's Bank