Nottingham City Council Community Protection Trading Standards Service is warning householders to be on their guard against rogue builders.
Householders may be making last minute improvements to their homes before winter sets in – and employing a builder can be a daunting experience no matter how big or small the project.
As Nottingham Trading Standards have received a large number of complaints about rogue builders, they are providing the following top tips to avoid falling foul of any scams:
1. Ask friends & family
There is nothing better than getting a recommendation from a trusted member of the family or close friend. However, make sure the work the builder is being recommended on is similar to the work you require them for.
2. See examples of their work
If you were to buy a car you would always do plenty of research and take it out for a test drive. Chances are you will be spending significantly more on the building works so you need to check what you will be getting from a builder.
3. Get at least three quotes
You should always get more than one builder to quote for the works.. Ensure you provide all the builders that are quoting with exactly the same information so you have directly comparable quotes.
Don’t always go for the cheapest price. With most things you normally get what you pay for. The cheaper price may mean they need to cut corners to get things done quicker and cheaper. They also may not have allowed for everything and try to increase the price at a later date.
4. Sign a contract
A contract benefits both the client and the builder. It should contain full details of who the builder is, including their name and full address. It should provide details of the work to be carried out, the price to be paid and what payment method should be used.
5. Never pay upfront
Never, ever pay for the work until it is completed and you are happy with it. If you pay them beforehand they have no incentive to finish the work and you leave yourself at risk of the project dragging on for much longer as the builder is on other jobs.
On larger projects you can arrange a staged payment with the builder. This normally involves paying for the percentage of works completed at the end of each month. Make sure if the builder is asking for 50% of the money that they have completed 50% of the work.
Ask your builder to confirm the amount of public liability insurance they hold.
Trading Standards Manager Jane Bailey warns: “Never employ a builder who cold calls at your door, they often sell services which are not required at vastly over inflated prices.
“On occasions householders can be taken to banks, building societies and post offices to make unusual, large cash withdrawals under duress. This is a very serious issue as the cash is being handed over to rogue builders for unnecessary works.”
Portfolio Holder for Community and Customer Services, Councillor Toby Neal, said: “Never rely on social media posts or local selling pages as unqualified and inexperienced builders can advertise on these sites with no comeback. Before employing anyone to do work on your home, check whether traders are members of the Trading Standards Checkatrade scheme at checktrade.com or by telephone on 0333 0146 190.”
If Nottingham City householders wish to report rogue builders or require further information or pre-shopping advice in relation to home improvements, they should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.