London, London United Kingdom (PressExposure) September 10, 2009 -- â¢ Over 3 million people are affected by cowboy builders in the UK every year.
Finding a reliable local builder can feel like the proverbial needle in a haystack, but the overwhelming majority of botched building jobs are entirely avoidable. These tips from ProblemSolved.co.uk, the directory of tradesmen powered by public recommendation and review, will help you avoid getting stung.
Top tips to avoid a rogue tradesman
1) Ask for recommendation from neighbours and friends or read reviews from members of the public on ProblemSolved.co.uk. Relevant references from previous employers could save you a lot of trouble.
2) Ask 3 different companies for detailed, itemised quotations and make a like-for-like comparison to ensure the best possible deal, not just the cheapest. Everything should be itemised, right down to the most rudimentary facts to avoid paying extra.
3) Be red hot on paperwork by remembering the following points: â¢ A Part P NECEIC electrical certificate is required for working on mains electricity and a gas Safe Register (formerly Corgi) for anyone working with gas supplies. â¢ Always insist on seeing a public liability insurance certificate as well as guarantees for any products they are supplying or for any works carried out.
4) Beware of a company without an address for its premises and with only a mobile number as they may be difficult to get hold of.
5) Alarm bells should ring if a builder is inviting a payment in cash or if the company is listed as limited but the owner is asking for a cheque to be written to a personal account.
6) Be wary of tradesmen asking for extortionate deposits and agree from the outset that payment should be staged against the completion of projects. With a lump sum in his back pocket, any builder has far less incentive to do a good job.
7) Bear in mind that it is never advisable to proceed with substantial building works without checking with your local planning authority. (For more information, visit http://www.planningportal.gov.uk.)
8) Ensure that the company is quoting VAT at the correct rate and has included a VAT Registration Number.
9) Ask if they intend to subcontract any of the work, and if so ensure the reliability of those companies.
10) Keep a good relationship with your builder and meet for progress updates as often as possible to avoid misinterpretation or clashing deliveries or projects. Have reasonable expectations and be courteous!
What do I do if it all goes wrong?
â¢ You can use the arbitration processes of certain trade bodies including the FMB and the Gas Safe Register.
â¢ As a last resort, you can go to trading standards and / or take the offender to court. But only if youâve staged your payments correctly, should your losses ever be negligible.