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Protecting yourself from the scammers

When paying for expensive work on your home, it's vital that you get good value for money and don't end up cheated.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there looking to make a bit of quick cash at your expense. Whether you've been scammed by a dodgy builder or someone has identified a non-existent problem with your patio or driveway, it can cause you a real headache.

We've teamed up with Swinton Commercial to give you a few tips on how to protect yourself against the scammers.

First up, builders

Avoiding rogue builders

Don't rush into anything  

If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. For example, when having building work done on your house often you'll have to wait for a defined period of time before your builder of choice becomes available. Beware builders who are able to start immediately, as most reliable builders will have a number of jobs lined up at the same time to ensure a consistent flow of work. If this isn't the case, this should be your first alarm bell.

Check their credentials

If something seems to be up, check out their credentials. Do they have business liability insurance? For example, business liability insurance from Swinton Commercial in the form of contractors' liability insurance provides specific insurance cover for damage that can potentially occur while building work is being carried out, due to the negligence of the builders. If they are unwilling to provide you with details of their insurance, walk away and don't agree to anything.

When hiring a builder, nothing should be mysterious. Be very wary of those who give sketchy details about their business and who are unwilling to showcase previous work and introduce you to previous happy customers.

Never pay cash up front

Any builder that asks for a lump sum up front should immediately make you see a red flag. Builders shouldn't need big amounts of cash prior to completing any work, as the funds they require for supplies and materials should come out of their business, not your pocket. You should only ever pay once the work is completed and you've been invoiced.

Stepping away from driveway and patio scams

These kind of scams are becoming more and more prevalent, so it's important that you are extremely wary and don't get caught out.

Driveways

When it comes to driveways, often a tradesman will appear at your front door unannounced stating he's working in the area and noticed a problem with your driveway. They'll then offer you a "reduced rate" to agree there and then to have the work done, often requiring cash up front. Never agree to a deal like this. If you feel there may be a problem with your driveway, get in touch with a reliable tradesman, ask them to check it out and provide you with a quote.

Patios

As a rule of thumb, patio dealers going door-to-door may not be the most reliable option for carrying out the work. This doesn't necessarily make them rogue traders - as some do conduct door-to-door sales in the same way as double glazing providers - however, quality tradesman should have work lined up for the next few months and shouldn't need to go door-to-door.

If it sounds like a good deal, take a step back and investigate the company before signing up to anything. Don't be worried about not signing on the spot and losing out on a deal, as chances are you'll be protecting yourself in the long run.

When paying for expensive work on your home, it's vital that you get good value for money and don't end up cheated.