How to avoid being conned by cowboy builders: Blackpool property care expert shares advice on finding a good tradesperson

A Blackpool based property care expert provides practical advice on how to avoid getting ripped off by tradesmen.
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Andrew Bradshaw, co-founder of local building preservation and property care company, RTC, provides advice and guidance on how to employ the most suitable tradesmen to carry out the work you require.

Get a few quotations

Don’t go with the first company you find and don’t feel obligated to use a tradesperson just because they’ve given you a quote.

Advice on cowboy buildersAdvice on cowboy builders
Advice on cowboy builders
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Andrew told Blackpool Gazette: “By meeting with more than one contractor and getting various quotes, it should help you in feeling more confident that you’ve chosen the right person for your project to be a success.”

Never pay in full before work is carried out

While it’s the norm to ask for a deposit, you should never pay for a job in full until it has been completed.

Andrew said: “Depending on the size of the job, anything from 10% to 50% could be asked for. Never pay for anything in full before the work has been carried out as this is NOT a reasonable request.”

Andrew Bradshaw, co-founder of local building preservation and property care company, RTC,Andrew Bradshaw, co-founder of local building preservation and property care company, RTC,
Andrew Bradshaw, co-founder of local building preservation and property care company, RTC,

The PCA (The Property Care Association), offers a ‘PCA Promise’, this is a warranty for work in progress and deposit payments which insures that should the unthinkable happen, and the company carrying out the work cease to exist, then another PCA contractor will complete the work to the original specification - at no extra cost. There is no cost for the ‘PCA Promise’ and it is offered to provide the customer further reassurance and peace of mind.

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Ask to see a builders insurance papers

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Tradespeople should have relevant insurance, and you are within your rights to see it.

Andrew said: “[Ask to see copies of] up to date public and employers’ liability insurance/professional indemnity insurance.”

Check if your builder is offering a guarantee

What happens if there’s a fault but your builder has retired, taken ill or changed career? An insurance-backed guarantee (IBG) will see that your work is fixed by another contractor, even if the original installer has ceased trading.

Andrew said: “Workmanship guarantees set out the contractor’s obligation to remedy any defects in installations they have fitted, however, this doesn’t mean they will always be around to carry out the amends for you.

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The purpose of an insurance backed guarantee is to honour the terms of the installing contractor’s own guarantee, where unfortunately, the installing contractor has ceased to trade and is, therefore, unable to satisfy remedial claims made against their workmanship guarantee.

Quality Assured National Warranties (QANW) for example, specialises in IBGs for the home improvement and construction industries.

It is also important to remember that even without a guarantee, the work must be fit for purpose and your own statutory rights should protect you for 6 years.”

Check online reviews

Looking at reviews can be a big factor in the decision-making process of anything you do, especially something which will cost you a lot of money.

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Google reviews, Which? Trusted Trader reviews, and are all good platforms to check your builder’s reputation.

Andrew added: “By seeing a number of positive reviews with good feedback, it will give you the confidence that you are in safe hands. Also don’t be afraid to ask to contact previous clients of the tradesmen, this can give you first-hand experience of the service they have offered.”

Seek construction companies that are members of a trade association

Trade associations, such as The Property Care Association (PCA), require their companies to meet and maintain robust membership criteria which cover aspects of their service including professional qualifications, service delivery and financial stability.

They often have complaints procedures and can act as a mediator between the consumer and a member company in order to seek to resolve any dispute effectively. This means consumers have an avenue to turn to for advice in the first instance, should something go wrong.

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TrustMark is also a good place to find reliable and trustworthy trades people who can help with property improvements and repairs. They also offer advice on how to protect yourself from rogue traders.

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