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  • FIRST POST
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 7th Jun 17, 4:52 PM
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    Annie1960
    How would you stop cowboy builders before they cause problems?
    • #1
    • 7th Jun 17, 4:52 PM
    How would you stop cowboy builders before they cause problems? 7th Jun 17 at 4:52 PM
    Although most traders in the construction industry are genuine and do a good job, there are a significant number who do not, and cause untold misery to people.

    Figures from 2011 indicate that the OFT receives approximately 100,000 complaints each year, and the FMB estimated that £1.5bn is lost to cowboy builders each year.

    Most home owners who have been affected can take action through the civil courts, but wouldn't it be better if there was something in place to stop such people before they could ruin people's properties?

    The Estate Agency industry used to have a terrible reputation, and, having moved house a couple of years ago, it seems to me that many Estate Agents are complying with the current rules, and providing a fairly decent service. They are obliged to belong to a regulator/ombudsman, and they can lose their ability to trade if they step too far beyond the rules.

    Is it possible to come up with something similar for the construction industry?

    If you ruled the world, and could make up whatever rules you wanted, what would you do to stop cowboy builders and associated trades? You can suggest anything you think would help. so long as it is not illegal.

    To get the ball rolling, I would like to see all trades obliged to take credit card payments for work over a certain amount. This would need to be done without an intermediary such as Sage Pay, so that if, for example, Building Control failed to sign off the work and the builder walked away, the home owner would be able to get their money back from the credit card company.

    What would you suggest?
    Last edited by Annie1960; 07-06-2017 at 4:57 PM.
Page 2
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 6:43 PM
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    Annie1960
    How does claiming back money from your credit card help combat cowboy builders?

    It means that people who have been scammed can get their money back.

    There is plenty of guidance available on how to avoid cowboy builders but it seems there are a lot of people out there who chose not to follow it.

    I don't accept your argument. I followed all the guidance, my first builder was endorsed by my architect, I went to see previous jobs etc. His quote was the middle quote of 3.

    As others have suggested this often comes down to customers trying to get work done on the cheap. Whilst I'm all for getting value for money, if you don't know what you are doing, chasing the cheapest quote can be a risky business.

    Which is why some jobs are regulated.

    In my dealings with customers it seems everyone thinks they are an expert when it comes to property and building because they have watched a few episodes of Homes Under The Hammer and Grand Designs etc. etc. Maybe if customers recognised that building construction is a highly skilled technical process and chose their contractors accordingly or employed professional help to manage the project there would be far fewer horror stories.

    I don't agree with your argument. It is exactly because some building jobs can be highly skilled and technical that they should be regulated. Other occupations that are skilled and technical are regulated. Why not construction work? At present, there are no barriers to entry. I could set myself up tomorrow and call myself a builder. Nothing to stop me.


    And while we're at it, how about getting rid of all the rubbish on TV with "TV personalities" pretending to be property experts.
    Originally posted by teneighty
    What has TV got to do with it?
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 6:45 PM
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    Annie1960
    Well said and my sentiments entirely. Taking today as a random example, I am being courted, and smooth talked, to go into a job which has gone horribly wrong and sort it out, The costs involved in putting it right are eye watering. The magnitude of the work is eye watering. Indeed these costs are far greater than what would have been paid to ensure a decent job in the first place. This is not unusual but consumers, in the vast majority of cases, have no interest in this.
    Originally posted by Furts
    So why has the job gone horribly wrong? Because somebody who did not have the skills was allowed to do it.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 6:55 PM
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    Annie1960

    I have been called into a number of homes where people have had work done to a poor standard and require us to rectify works. When you dig deeper into the issue, it is invariably because the home owner has gone for the lowest price.

    This was not my experience. It sounds as though you are quite happy to let cowboys work in your industry. Perhaps you don't realise it reflects badly on all of you.


    Additionally, customers do not do any due diligence. They often only have a mobile phone number for the builder and have no written address. They fail to ask for references and fail to check insurance details and appropriate certification (eg Gas Safe).

    Why do you think this is the consumer's fault? Perhaps it should be a requirement for builders to provide full written information? In fact one of the builders I contacted advertised on the Which? Trusted Traders website where the scheme lays down in detail all the paperwork they are supposed to provide. He refused to provide it as he did not think it was relevant, and he had already 'jumped through all the Which? hoops' which he thought were onerous, but I thought were very basic.

    I complained to Which? and they removed him from the scheme, but a few months later they took him back on again! Why, exactly, do you see this as my fault?


    The here is the blinder: "we paid him cash and have no receipts"

    Then maybe cash payments should be illegal? Maybe it should be a requirement for a written contract to be in place? Wouldn't that solve this problem? I takes two parties to agree to deal with cash payments, or are you saying builders have cash forced on them against their will?


    Sorry, but home owners need to take responsibility for their stupid decisions.

    You have not provided any evidence that home owners are responsible for cowboy builders. You seem to be endorsing cowboys. Interesting.
    Originally posted by phill99
    .....................
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 7:02 PM
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    Annie1960


    So one has to be pragmatic and here you and I disagree. Your title says it all. "Cowboy builders" with no mention of the conditions needed for them to operate in. This condition is for every cowboy builder there has to be an ample supply of cowboy consumers.

    So if you were scammed by a cowboy financial adviser, estate agent or other trade, you would blame yourself? I doubt it. You would ask why such people are allowed to operate. Your argument is bizarre. Are you campaigning for these jobs to be deregulated? If not why not, as taking your argument to its logical conclusion then there should be no regulation of any occupation.

    Consider the last couple of days. There have been posts from consumers who have no concept of the building industry, the trades or even fundamentals. Yet they willingly engage contractors (which may be the wrong contractors, and the wrong trades), then compound this with no working drawings, no Buildings Regulations, no Specification, no Contract, no payment scheme, no inspection ...the list goes on.

    Then surely some sort of regulation which required contractors to do these things would solve this problem?

    The government has tried, in a half hearted manner, to stamp out cowboy builders. This has failed but the Government has never dared to address cowboy clients.
    Originally posted by Furts
    I do not accept your concept of a cowboy client.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 7:08 PM
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    Annie1960
    Mandatory basic contracts for all works, that protect the employer and the contractor. Problem is most people see formal contracts over the top for small works then wonder why the builder who's been paid a huge amount up front disappears.
    Originally posted by the_r_sole
    Where is your evidence that 'most people' see formal contracts as over the top for small works? I certainly don't and had great difficulty getting trades to put anything at all in writing.

    What is your sample size of 'most people'? How did you measure their attitudes? How did you analyse the data?

    If you have this evidence, I would be very interested in seeing the primary sources, but I bet you haven't.
    Last edited by Annie1960; 12-06-2017 at 2:53 PM.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 8th Jun 17, 7:25 PM
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    the_r_sole
    Where is your evidence that 'most people' see formal contracts as over the top for small works? I certainly don't and had great difficulty getting trades to put anything at all in writing.

    What is your sample size of 'most people'? How did you measure their attitudes? How did you analyse the date?

    If you have this evidence, I would be very interested in seeing the primary sources, but I bet you haven't.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    My evidence is working for many years advising clients to use contracts for works that I have designed on every job, no matter how small but the majority not doing it.
    Once you get to somewhere approaching 100k or work people tend to want a contract and sometimes even employ the architect as a contact administrator, but even then you have some clients who don't understand the complexity of actually delivering buildings - we've just had one client who after a year and half planning battle for a 4million quid building, doesn't want to employ us to oversee the building works because he's built a house extension before so how hard can it be?!

    I know you only like dealing with published facts and not real first hand experience or practical solutions to issues in the construction industry, but I can only give the direct experience I have in dealing with small scale residential projects during all of my professional career - which although is regulated and costly for me every year in memberships, registration, insurance etc is still overrun by unqualified, uninsured plan drawers who are not regulated but regularly recommend on this (and many other forums) as a cost saving, I've lost count of the number of times where I've read "you don't need some fancy architect for this building project"...
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 8th Jun 17, 7:26 PM
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    Annie1960
    One interesting thing I came across recently when I ordered some flooring, was that the small local shop where I ordered belongs to a deposit scheme. I paid a deposit, and it is lodged within a scheme so if the shop goes out of business or anything happens my money will be returned to me.

    Maybe something like this could work in the building industry? They have done a similar thing for letting agents who hold deposits from people who rent property.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 8th Jun 17, 7:29 PM
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    the_r_sole
    One interesting thing I came across recently when I ordered some flooring, was that the small local shop where I ordered belongs to a deposit scheme. I paid a deposit, and it is lodged within a scheme so if the shop goes out of business or anything happens my money will be returned to me.

    Maybe something like this could work in the building industry? They have done a similar thing for letting agents who hold deposits from people who rent property.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    You mean just the same as a retention in a contract where a percentage of the total value is witheld until a specific time after completion - building contracts are already there to perform the functions you want
    • phill99
    • By phill99 8th Jun 17, 7:59 PM
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    phill99
    .....................
    Originally posted by Annie1960


    I think you are in cloud cuckoo land.
    Eat vegetables and fear no creditors, rather than eat duck and hide.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 8th Jun 17, 8:29 PM
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    teneighty
    Once you get to somewhere approaching 100k or work people tend to want a contract and sometimes even employ the architect as a contact administrator, but even then you have some clients who don't understand the complexity of actually delivering buildings - we've just had one client who after a year and half planning battle for a 4million quid building, doesn't want to employ us to oversee the building works because he's built a house extension before so how hard can it be?! ...
    Originally posted by the_r_sole
    Ah, the client who had an extension built once and is now an expert in project management. Don't you just love them?

    What's the point of slogging your guts out at college for years and building up decades of experience? Any fool can do it.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 8th Jun 17, 8:41 PM
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    the_r_sole
    Ah, the client who had an extension built once and is now an expert in project management. Don't you just love them?

    What's the point of slogging your guts out at college for years and building up decades of experience? Any fool can do it.
    Originally posted by teneighty
    It's amazing, I've just handed over a smaller building and it's been close to a full time job for a year, so much coordination required with information on site etc and we had a brilliant main contractor, this guy wants to do it as subcontracted trades! We've actually said if he wants to go down that route our fee would be higher! It's mental from a costs/quality point of view but he's likely to find out the hard way too
    • no1catman
    • By no1catman 8th Jun 17, 9:55 PM
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    no1catman
    When I moved house the survey said -'get the ridge tiles fixed' mortar missing in places.
    After a few years, with a few chunks coming down I thought i'd better get something sorted.
    Had a couple of quotes, one about £750, and the other more like £150. I just thought the later too cheap. Though the former did have scaffolding put up.
    At the start everything look great, guy on the roof did more than I expected. The only thing - about six months later chunks of cement started to come down. 'Phoned the guy - not interested.
    Had an insurance surveyor in - for an internal problem - asked his opinion of the work, not impressed.
    'Phoned the guy again, wouldn't answer, but picked up after trying via mobile number!

    Why the problem - believe, the cement in the centre of the bucket was okay, but that scraped off the bucket sides, wasn't mixed well enough.

    Problem solved, by a handyman, who used a ladder - no problem since!!

    It's just funny, all the number of small jobs the guy would've have got since!
    I used to work for Tesco - now retired - speciality Clubcard
    • Furts
    • By Furts 9th Jun 17, 7:03 AM
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    Furts
    When I moved house the survey said -'get the ridge tiles fixed' mortar missing in places.
    After a few years, with a few chunks coming down I thought i'd better get something sorted.
    Had a couple of quotes, one about £750, and the other more like £150. I just thought the later too cheap. Though the former did have scaffolding put up.
    At the start everything look great, guy on the roof did more than I expected. The only thing - about six months later chunks of cement started to come down. 'Phoned the guy - not interested.
    Had an insurance surveyor in - for an internal problem - asked his opinion of the work, not impressed.
    'Phoned the guy again, wouldn't answer, but picked up after trying via mobile number!

    Why the problem - believe, the cement in the centre of the bucket was okay, but that scraped off the bucket sides, wasn't mixed well enough.

    Problem solved, by a handyman, who used a ladder - no problem since!!

    It's just funny, all the number of small jobs the guy would've have got since!
    Originally posted by no1catman
    Not a good situation - I fully agree there. But it raises points. Your post suggests you chose purely based on price. What checks did you do on the roofer? What Specification did you draw up? What check did you do on his bag of cement looking at the date stamp? Why were you not looking for an electric mixer? What did you inspect and monitor? You will get my drift here. People need to be savvy, street wise, and competent before engaging people to work on their homes. If they do not they run the risk of being taken advantage of.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 8:10 AM
    • 2,655 Posts
    • 1,485 Thanks
    Annie1960
    When I moved house the survey said -'get the ridge tiles fixed' mortar missing in places.
    After a few years, with a few chunks coming down I thought i'd better get something sorted.
    Had a couple of quotes, one about £750, and the other more like £150. I just thought the later too cheap. Though the former did have scaffolding put up.
    At the start everything look great, guy on the roof did more than I expected. The only thing - about six months later chunks of cement started to come down. 'Phoned the guy - not interested.
    Had an insurance surveyor in - for an internal problem - asked his opinion of the work, not impressed.
    'Phoned the guy again, wouldn't answer, but picked up after trying via mobile number!

    Why the problem - believe, the cement in the centre of the bucket was okay, but that scraped off the bucket sides, wasn't mixed well enough.

    Problem solved, by a handyman, who used a ladder - no problem since!!

    It's just funny, all the number of small jobs the guy would've have got since!
    Originally posted by no1catman
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    With hindsight, what do you think would have helped to avoid this? If you could now do anything you wanted to avoid this happening to other people, what would you do?
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 8:12 AM
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    Annie1960
    Ah, the client who had an extension built once and is now an expert in project management. Don't you just love them?

    What's the point of slogging your guts out at college for years and building up decades of experience? Any fool can do it.
    Originally posted by teneighty
    I assume your second comment is as sarcastic as your first one.

    I have never yet encountered a builder who has spent years at college. If this was a requirement, then it would solve most of the problems consumer have with cowboys.
    • comeandgo
    • By comeandgo 9th Jun 17, 8:47 AM
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    comeandgo
    Well builders, joiners, plumbers,etc do go to college. Maybe you should ask what their qualifications are because you are correct, there is no legal requirement for them to do so but the paper qualified ones have. But again, that is no guarantee they are financially savvy. They could go bust half way through a contract.
    I agree a lot of the problems and why there are many cowboy builders is due to people wanting things done as cheaply as possible. With Internet and companies house you can do a lot of checking yourself. If there is no history I would not entertain using them. I can't understand why people have problems as there are so many good tradesmen out there. Go to the well established businesses. There is a reason they are well established.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 9th Jun 17, 10:09 AM
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    teneighty
    I assume your second comment is as sarcastic as your first one.

    I have never yet encountered a builder who has spent years at college. If this was a requirement, then it would solve most of the problems consumer have with cowboys.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    My comments were aimed at Mr R Sole, neither of us are "builders" but work on the professional side of the industry and probably both share the same exasperation at clients who have over inflated opinions of there own ability to manage a project.

    As comeandgo quite rightly pointed out most building trades do spend many years at college and go through very vigorous training. One of the problems with the general public's understanding is there is no such trade as "builder". Most "general builders" should have a trade qualification, in my experience the best are carpenters although you get bricklayers, plasterers etc. Multi-trade operatives usually fulfill the old adage of jack of all trades master of none. But hey, if you find some random stranger off a dubious internet lead generating site with a string of glowing recommendations from other random strangers what could possibly go wrong? He might have been picking cabbages last week but this week he is a "builder". There are a few people on here who claim to be builders but I suspect they do not have a formal trade qualification.

    With your project did you bother to ask your "architect" what his professional qualification was, get a copy of his professional indemnity insurance and check how long he had been trading? Did you ask your errant builder what his qualifications were and those of his sub-contractors? Did you check how long they had been trading? When you visited the previous jobs did you really understand what you were looking at or did it just look nice and tidy and the builder himself was nice?

    Regulation is not the answer, just educating the public to make sure they follow the widely available advice or better still seek professional help.
    • martinsurrey
    • By martinsurrey 9th Jun 17, 10:19 AM
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    martinsurrey
    I can't understand why people have problems as there are so many good tradesmen out there.
    Originally posted by comeandgo
    Because they aren't the cheapest!

    Last tradesman I appointed (on Wednesday), wasn't the cheapest, was recommended to me, its only a £3k contract, but I got all of his registration details, his insurance details, checked his VAT details, checked his companies house details (one man Ltd company outfit).

    Cant guarantee that he'll do a good job, but I've done as much as I can to make sure he's not a fly by night. So far in life, I've been let down by tradesmen plenty, but never ripped off!
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 9th Jun 17, 10:33 AM
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    the_r_sole
    My comments were aimed at Mr R Sole, neither of us are "builders" but work on the professional side of the industry and probably both share the same exasperation at clients who have over inflated opinions of there own ability to manage a project.
    Originally posted by teneighty
    tbf this is where I put the op too having seen a lot of their posts on this forum, a little knowledge can be very dangerous
    • Rosemary7391
    • By Rosemary7391 9th Jun 17, 11:20 AM
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    Rosemary7391
    Not a good situation - I fully agree there. But it raises points. Your post suggests you chose purely based on price. What checks did you do on the roofer? What Specification did you draw up? What check did you do on his bag of cement looking at the date stamp? Why were you not looking for an electric mixer? What did you inspect and monitor? You will get my drift here. People need to be savvy, street wise, and competent before engaging people to work on their homes. If they do not they run the risk of being taken advantage of.
    Originally posted by Furts
    I think you might be being a tad unrealistic there. I can be generally savvy, get reccomendations, check details etc and be on the look out for "just too cheap" but to suggest that I ought to know how cement is mixed before I pay someone to put it on my house is ludicrous. That's why I'm paying someone else to do it!
    Me escondo detras de mi lengua... tengo miedo de que me entiendas... pero me gustara que me entendases ¡Ayudame!
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