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Top tips on how to spot a cowboy builder

When you employ a builder, it’s sometimes very hard to tell at first if they are trustworthy and reliable.

But there are some tell-tale signs which can help you spot the difference between a cowboy builder and the genuine thing.

Be very careful about taking on a builder who:

  • offers very cheap quotes or estimates – this could mean they are a cowboy, or could not be experienced enough to give accurate figures
  • Courtney Builders will provide you with a realistic competitive quote for your project.
  • is unwilling to put a quote or estimate in writing – this could mean they don’t intend to stick to it
  • All the work Courtney Builders undertakes is detailed in a clear comprehensive document.
  • is unwilling to offer references
  • Courtney Builders are happy to provide you with previous customers details.
  • is too keen to start the job straight away – cowboy builders often do lots of work in one area before moving out of the area altogether. They often leave very poor or unfinished work behind and are impossible to track down
  • We are kept very busy and sometimes are unable to start new work for 2 to 3 months. 
  • is unwilling to offer you details about their business – for example an address or landline number
  • All Courtney Builders details are available to view on their website and many of the social media sites.
  • claims to be in a trade association when they are not – you should always check if the builder does belong to the trade association. If they don’t, it means they’re dishonest and probably committing a criminal offence
  • Courtney Builders have been a member of the Federation of Master Builders since 2008.
  • claims to work for a company with a good reputation when they don’t – check they work for who they say they do. If they don’t, this means they’re dishonest and you’d be better off not using them
  • Courtney Builders carry out their own work.
  • doesn’t offer you a contract, or doesn’t sign the one you give them
  • Courtney Builders provide a comprehensive detailed breakdown of any project and can offer additional customer protection with the Federation of Master Builders.
  • asks for money up front -a reliable builder won’t ask you to do this, not even if they need materials. If they run a business, they should have enough money to cover these costs themselves and only ask for payment once they’ve completed the job, or done a reasonable amount of work
  • Courtney Builders provide a detailed payment schedule designed to look after both parties and are very flexible in terms of accommodating certain requests. 
  • gives a detailed quote and schedule of work but then not follow it
  • We at Courtney Builders pride ourselves on being Professional, competent and honest.
  • doesn’t charge VAT when they should – if they are a small or new trader, they may not need to register or pay VAT. It depends on how much work they do in a year. If they should be registered, they could be avoiding paying it, to save money and charge less than others. This is dishonest and against the law
  • Courtney Builders are registered for Vat.
  • only accepts cash -if a builder only offers to accept a cash payment, they could be acting dishonestly by saving on paying out for VAT
  • Any builders working for cash will not guarantee their work!

Original article adapted from The Citizens Advice website.