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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 3
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 9th Jun 17, 11:24 AM
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    Doozergirl
    Checking the mix is a step too far. No one needs a control freak looking over their shoulder.

    Trust goes a certain way and if that doesn't exist then the relationship is just as likely to break down or never get started.

    Things do go wrong, the measure then is how it is dealt with.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 11:47 AM
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    Annie1960

    Things do go wrong, the measure then is how it is dealt with.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    This is a very important point.

    At the moment, if things go wrong, and the builder doesn't want to fix it, they can just walk out. It's then up to the consumer to take civil action.

    In many occupations, if something goes wrong, the person can't just walk out. They are regulated by an ombudsman or similar body, and have to have the situation investigated by someone within the body who can come to a fair conclusion.

    This would surely be a step forward for both genuine builders and customers?
    • martinsurrey
    • By martinsurrey 9th Jun 17, 12:06 PM
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    martinsurrey
    This is a very important point.

    At the moment, if things go wrong, and the builder doesn't want to fix it, they can just walk out. It's then up to the consumer to take civil action.

    In many occupations, if something goes wrong, the person can't just walk out. They are regulated by an ombudsman or similar body, and have to have the situation investigated by someone within the body who can come to a fair conclusion.

    This would surely be a step forward for both genuine builders and customers?
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    Your second and third paragraphs are equivalent.

    the regulated body can still down tool's its just the ombudsman is the next step over court... but the process is similar, the consumer still has to do the chasing.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 12:33 PM
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    Annie1960
    Your second and third paragraphs are equivalent.

    They are not equivalent at all, although they are related points.

    the regulated body can still down tool's its just the ombudsman is the next step over court... but the process is similar, the consumer still has to do the chasing.
    Originally posted by martinsurrey
    But the consumer does not have the costs, and if the trader is found to be wrong they can be suspended and prevented from trading. For example, estate agents are not allowed to trade if they do not belong to one of the regulatory bodies, so they have an incentive to co-operate in resolving any complaints.

    Also, a regulator is usually much quicker than a civil court. Much better for both parties. Justice delayed is justice denied and all that. At present it typically takes at least a year to take someone to a civil court, whereas regulators have 30 to 60 days or thereabouts.
    Last edited by Annie1960; 09-06-2017 at 12:38 PM.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 9th Jun 17, 12:53 PM
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    teneighty
    But the consumer does not have the costs, and if the trader is found to be wrong they can be suspended and prevented from trading. For example, estate agents are not allowed to trade if they do not belong to one of the regulatory bodies, so they have an incentive to co-operate in resolving any complaints.

    Also, a regulator is usually much quicker than a civil court. Much better for both parties. Justice delayed is justice denied and all that. At present it typically takes at least a year to take someone to a civil court, whereas regulators have 30 to 60 days or thereabouts.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    I am only aware of 2 compulsory ombudsman schemes, Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors.

    We never see any threads on here about dodgy estate agents or surveyors do we? Oh no wait....
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 9th Jun 17, 3:04 PM
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    the_r_sole
    This is a very important point.

    At the moment, if things go wrong, and the builder doesn't want to fix it, they can just walk out. It's then up to the consumer to take civil action.

    In many occupations, if something goes wrong, the person can't just walk out. They are regulated by an ombudsman or similar body, and have to have the situation investigated by someone within the body who can come to a fair conclusion.

    This would surely be a step forward for both genuine builders and customers?
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    If there is a building contract in place there is a mechanism for rectifying defective works - seriously, read up on jct contracts and them come back with anything you think is missing, just because you chose not to use a contract doesn't mean there isn't a way that consumers can be covered
    • Furts
    • By Furts 9th Jun 17, 4:17 PM
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    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!
    Originally posted by Rosemary7391
    You are not quoting me correctly. I said where was the electric mixer? This could also be petrol engined but that is getting pedantic. What you are overlooking is the consumer employed a cowboy. To combat a cowboy in this instance it is fundamental to ask how and where will they be mixing the mortar. If the reply is in an old bucket up on your roof then clearly one shows them a swift exit. Let us be clear here. A bucket is an article to carry water in, and not a suitable article for mixing mortar.

    As an aside I suspect this was not the full story on the failure since contractor number two had no idea what number one really did as he was not there at the time. But that is another story.

    All this is down to the consumer. It is bizarre that they funded a survey which came up with ridge tile issues yet did not follow this through. The consumer could then have entered discussion with the surveyor, checked their competence, sought surveyor recommended contractors, had a specification issued, had the work done and had the work inspected. Instead they decided to pay for the work to be done twice.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 9th Jun 17, 4:26 PM
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    Furts
    Consider today as an example of cowboy consumers employing cowboy contractors. I am a Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator who knows of a cowboy who cruises my home area looking for victims. This contractor met one of my neighbours around four weeks ago. I happened to be coming home and passed the two in discussion. Afterwards I went to the neighbour, explained about the cowboy and explained about two instances when work I was aware of had gone wrong. I said "his procedure is to shaft you like this... If one checks like this it becomes immediately apparent the work is bodged."

    I have come in this afternoon to see the neighbours have engaged the cowboy, he is doing exactly as I warned, and the neighbours are sat in their home allowing the cowboy a free hand to work without them inspecting the flaws they were warned about.

    A timely example of every day cowboy consumers aiding and abetting cowboy builders.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 5:41 PM
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    Annie1960
    If there is a building contract in place there is a mechanism for rectifying defective works - seriously, read up on jct contracts and them come back with anything you think is missing, just because you chose not to use a contract doesn't mean there isn't a way that consumers can be covered
    Originally posted by the_r_sole
    Don't attempt to patronise me, you won't be successful.

    I would never enter into an agreement without a written contract, unlike many cowboys who prefer to avoid contracts if they can. Even with a written contract, the cowboy builder can, and does, run off when things go wrong. What is wrong with making it compulsory for builders to use a written contract?

    I can see that you are very much on the side of the cowboy builder. I am much more interested in the views of consumers who would like to improve things, rather than people who want to maintain the status quo.

    At present it is compulsory for traders, if a contract is agreed off-premises, to issue a cooling off notice. I have had many different trades in since I moved here a couple of years ago, and not one of them has complied with their legal obligation to give me a cooling off notice.
    Last edited by Annie1960; 09-06-2017 at 5:52 PM.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 5:49 PM
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    Annie1960
    Hopefully some consumers will be along who want to discuss ways in which the currently unregulated building industry could be improved.

    At present, there is a lot more regulation goes in to someone who wants to put baked beans into a tin and sell them for 50p than someone who takes many thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of pounds to do construction work that can kill people.

    It is no surprise that people in the industry don't want any change - people rarely do.

    However, one of the most common types of case in the civil courts relates to cowboy builders, and I don't see why steps could be taken to ensure incompetent people find it much more difficult to trade as builders when they have no idea what they are doing.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 5:57 PM
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    Annie1960
    Consider today as an example of cowboy consumers employing cowboy contractors. I am a Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator who knows of a cowboy who cruises my home area looking for victims. This contractor met one of my neighbours around four weeks ago. I happened to be coming home and passed the two in discussion. Afterwards I went to the neighbour, explained about the cowboy and explained about two instances when work I was aware of had gone wrong. I said "his procedure is to shaft you like this... If one checks like this it becomes immediately apparent the work is bodged."

    I have come in this afternoon to see the neighbours have engaged the cowboy, he is doing exactly as I warned, and the neighbours are sat in their home allowing the cowboy a free hand to work without them inspecting the flaws they were warned about.

    A timely example of every day cowboy consumers aiding and abetting cowboy builders.
    Originally posted by Furts
    Why is this the consumer's fault? Perhaps they are vulnerable? We live in a civilised society, and we don't regulate the consumer, we regulate the people who are selling their goods and services.

    If you think it should be the other way around, you should be campaigning to remove regulation of doctors, dentists, people producing and serving food, electricians and all the other occupations that are regulated. I bet you have never done this.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 6:05 PM
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    Annie1960
    I am only aware of 2 compulsory ombudsman schemes, Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors.

    We never see any threads on here about dodgy estate agents or surveyors do we? Oh no wait....
    Originally posted by teneighty
    Just because you are not aware of the occupations that are regulated doesn't mean others don't understand this. You are assuming your ignorance is shared by everyone else. Regulation can take many forms, it does not have in to be an ombudsman scheme.

    The ombudsman scheme for estate agents in my opinion has had a fair amount of success. They are required to give you a written contract, and the wording they should use for different scenarios is laid out in detail. My experience was generally good when I was moving.

    You seem to have a simplistic thought process where a scheme is either perfect or it should not be there. Maybe there are some EAs and surveyors who are less than perfect, but at least there are mechanisms in place for getting issues addressed, and ultimately people in both of these occupations could be prevented from trading if they do something that is deemed to be bad enough. I think this is a good idea.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 9th Jun 17, 6:17 PM
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    the_r_sole
    Don't attempt to patronise me, you won't be successful.

    I would never enter into an agreement without a written contract, unlike many cowboys who prefer to avoid contracts if they can. Even with a written contract, the cowboy builder can, and does, run off when things go wrong. What is wrong with making it compulsory for builders to use a written contract?

    I can see that you are very much on the side of the cowboy builder. I am much more interested in the views of consumers who would like to improve things, rather than people who want to maintain the status quo.

    At present it is compulsory for traders, if a contract is agreed off-premises, to issue a cooling off notice. I have had many different trades in since I moved here a couple of years ago, and not one of them has complied with their legal obligation to give me a cooling off notice.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    I see, so did you use a performance bond in your contract which protects the employer against a contractor going bust? Did you have agreed payment dates where completed works were valued on site before a payment notice was issued? Did you include a retention sum which covers for a builder not coming back to site?
    I'm not on any side here, but I do understand what contracts are widely used to prevent the things you want to stop and which clauses/ contractual mechanisms are there to protect the employer, whilst you might see telling you these things already exist and are widely used/readily available as patronising, hopefully it will act as a guide for those who know they are inexperienced in this area to get proper professional advice before undertaking construction works.
    I spend days of my life advising clients of the values of these contracts but for a lot them the formalities and costs are off putting, even if usually ends up costing a lot more in the long run...another one of your threads which turns into Ill judged conclusions when the facts laid out don't suit your opinions
    Last edited by the_r_sole; 09-06-2017 at 7:15 PM.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 9th Jun 17, 6:25 PM
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    Furts
    Why is this the consumer's fault? Perhaps they are vulnerable? We live in a civilised society, and we don't regulate the consumer, we regulate the people who are selling their goods and services.

    If you think it should be the other way around, you should be campaigning to remove regulation of doctors, dentists, people producing and serving food, electricians and all the other occupations that are regulated. I bet you have never done this.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    Not vulnerable at all. A couple who are healthy, affluent, nice house, new BMW and Mini on the drive - you will get the idea. They are typical modern consumers. They could not care less about issues such as cowboy builders.

    My verdict? I have neighbours each side of me, and others around me, all actively aiding and abetting cowboy contractors.

    To add further weight to my approach since posting my next door neighbours, who are almost identical, have met another rogue character to clear their ivy from the rear of their house. These neighbours are known for wanting everything cheap, everything paid cash, but getting into a dispute with "contractors" on a regular basis.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 6:29 PM
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    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
    Originally posted by the_r_sole

    No, I don't mean a retention. I am fully aware of what a retention is, and if I had meant to say this I would have used the word retention.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 9th Jun 17, 6:33 PM
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    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"...
    Originally posted by the_r_sole
    The issue I'm struggling to understand is, if you consider yourself to be one of the reputable people in the industry, why you don't want to stamp out the cowboys who give you all a bad reputation.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 9th Jun 17, 6:42 PM
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    the_r_sole
    The issue I'm struggling to understand is, if you consider yourself to be one of the reputable people in the industry, why you don't want to stamp out the cowboys who give you all a bad reputation.
    Originally posted by Annie1960
    I'm a chartered architect and deal with construction contracts and contractors every day of my life, I know exactly how to avoid cowboys and advise my clients on how to do it.
    It's clear you don't understand the contractual mechanisms that exist to offer the protection you claim isn't there.
    If you could perhaps elaborate on your understanding of how the retention in a standard jct contract doesn't perform the function you were referring to, I'll be happy to clarify for you.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 9th Jun 17, 7:34 PM
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    Doozergirl
    I'm a chartered architect and deal with construction contracts and contractors every day of my life, I know exactly how to avoid cowboys and advise my clients on how to do it.
    It's clear you don't understand the contractual mechanisms that exist to offer the protection you claim isn't there.
    If you could perhaps elaborate on your understanding of how the retention in a standard jct contract doesn't perform the function you were referring to, I'll be happy to clarify for you.
    Originally posted by the_r_sole
    I'm certainly struggling with how the concept of a consumer paying a large deposit into a scheme is better for a client than keeping the retention money themselves. From my perspective, it would be nicer to have it in a scheme where I know there's a chance we'll be paid it and it won't be spent by the client on furniture when their budget runs out!

    The question was what could be done to stop cowboy builders before they cause problems. Fact is, there are plenty of ways in which total cowboys can be very easily weeded out.

    What must be separated is cowboys and disputes. Consumers go straight for 'cowboy' in every circumstance. Disputes are harder to avoid than cowboys and that's possibly where regulation might deliberately professionalise things more but builders often aren't very academic people and so we'll possibly end up with even more of a shortage of labour than we currently do. Resolving a dispute also costs a lot of money. It is not free and cannot be. It needs a third party involved, you cannot simply protect consumers with a refund when they get a bit upset or things cost more than hoped for - they'd all want a refund! Building work is shitty and really stressful. Heck, I don't enjoy having people in doing work and these people are my friends!

    As long as people are prepared to pay for the extra administration then there's no problem. I'm sure that companies will pop up to fill the adminsitrative gaps to help trades if there were compulsory routes to take, but as every construction related person on this thread says - the processes, procedures, contracts and professionals are already available but many, many people are not prepared to pay for it because people think that project managing is easy. TV has a lot to do with it!
    Last edited by Doozergirl; 09-06-2017 at 7:44 PM.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 9th Jun 17, 7:42 PM
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    teneighty
    I for one and no doubt the others here would gladly see all cowboys and rogue traders eradicated overnight.

    The trouble is there have been countless government initiatives, OFT and trading standards campaigns and they all end in failure. It seems to be a basic human instinct to try and get something a bit cheaper or preferably free. That's why people go to dodgy foreign clinics for cosmetic surgery or get embroiled in internet scams with Nigerian oil tycoons etc etc.

    Although you take it as being patronising what we are trying to get across to the wider general public is there are procedures and advice and if all else fails lots of professional help (some of it given freely here) to help people avoid the cowboys and get good honest reliable qualified tradesmen and women. And with the correct procedures in place and good management even if a building project does go slightly off the rails there is absolutely no reason why the customer should be out of pocket. And also just as importantly protect the building contractor from cowboy customers.
    • Murphybear
    • By Murphybear 10th Jun 17, 2:55 PM
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    Murphybear
    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
    We haven't needed a builder for years but did have the following experience. We had a bungalow with a sloping drive which was in poor condition. We decided to get it block paved. We were new to the area and didn't know anyone who had work done. We got some quotes and went with the one we chose for the following reason. After giving us the quote he said he wouldn't need any money upfront, he would do the work and he only wanted paying when it was complete and we were happy. We did this and he made a superb job of it and built us a lovely wall as well. I don't know if this an unusual way of doing business but it worked for us.
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