05 May 6 Tips for Avoiding Cowboy Construction Companies
According to statistics, the UK Construction Industry will be worth £227bn by 2026. The industry will grow at an 8.1% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).
Taking the plunge into building your own home might be a daunting process, and you may need to hire a builder to do some or all of the work. The horrible stories we hear in the media give a notion that if you are unlucky enough to choose a cowboy builder, your construction could be left in shambles while the cowboys gallop away with all your cash.
Moreover, rogue construction companies are a major issue not only for would-be self/custom builders but also for the construction sector and the wider UK economy. Research shows that one-third of homeowners are so worried about hiring the wrong builder that they have entirely put off commissioning building work. This also gives a bad name to the many fantastic companies that are out there.
Cowboy builders are able to win work since people fail to recognise the distinctions between them and skilled building companies. There are, however, some precautions you may take to recognise these rogue traders and ensure that your construction project does not become a nightmare.
Keep reading to learn the 6-tips on how to avoid cowboy construction companies.
1. Be Wary of Builders Going Bust
If you Google “biggest construction disasters,” the same thing will pop up – builders going bust. Why is this common?
The best construction company can be declared bankrupt. But cowboy builders change their company’s name and place a new director at the helm. The business will look like a brand new and debt-free practice.
However, developer insolvency insurance should cover your project to ensure you’re not a victim of such foul practices. If the builder does not provide it, consider taking it out yourself. Another option is to pay for the project with a credit card.
Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your credit card company should compensate your loss if your contractor fails to deliver a good or service after payment. To qualify, you have to pay over £100 but less than £30,000.
2. What Payment Plans Keep You Safe?
Setting up the right payment plan after receiving a construction quote is the best thing to do. Note, never pay cash upfront for construction service.
A legit contractor should have the money to start the project and receive the money after completing the construction. Anyone requesting cash upfront is at risk of going bust; avoid such people.
Find a builder who can fund the project and pay them based on evaluations. Usually, you will give them a deposit to start the job. Then they do the job for a specified period.
After that, you will call your contract administrator (architect) to assess the work done; then, you release the payment. Your contractor follows the schedule and provides high-standard work.
Another way you can do it is by getting a JCT homeowners contract. You can pay your contractor in bits instead of big lump sums.
But, for that to work well, you need adequate knowledge of the construction industry. Without an expert there to check the progress, you might pay at the wrong time or for work that’s not top quality.
3. Check the Builder’s Accreditation
Contractors aren’t required to have any qualifications. But, some schemes help prove their credentials.
The best one is TrustMark, the only non-profit and government-endorsed quality scheme. When you use TrustMark contractors, you will have the utmost protection in the housing sector.
Another accreditation scheme is The Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Builders under this scheme follow conduct guidelines that protect homeowners from unfortunate practices.
But, the scheme isn’t perfect since contractors must pay to be part of the federation. It’s a good sign to know the contractor is willing to pay the cost, but it makes the FMB a business.
4. Construction Quote and a Watertight Contract
After shortlisting potential contractors, try and get at least three construction quotes. Also, ensure the contracts cover the project’s full scope.
Do not leave your projects to chance or make contracts based on a handshake. The contract should contain details from the type of construction to what and how to pay the contractor.
They should also include the type of insurance required and what will happen if they don’t finish on time. Consider hiring a professional quantity surveyor if you don’t have the time to settle all this on yourself.
5. Thoroughly Vet Your Builder
When commissioning construction work, take the necessary steps to ensure you don’t contract a cowboy builder. One way to do this is by doing a thorough vetting and inspection of the builder.
Here is what to check:
• Does the business have a registered address?
• Does the builder have references/testimonials?
Testimonials are crucial since you can see if their previous customers were happy with the work. Proof of a business address is also important since you’re sure they are not just completing the work from the back of their van.
6. Agree on a Deadline for Your Construction Projects
Never assume that your builder will get the work done quickly. Ensure you negotiate a reasonable deadline at the beginning of the contract.
Remember to include leeway for inevitable delays like bad weather or illness. Having clarity on your deadline as you sign the agreement is vital.
Avoid Rogue Construction Companies
Consider the above tips when making that huge financial commitment to your construction project. You will lose money by working with cowboy construction companies. Remember that cheaper contractors may be full of false promises so make sure you have done your due diligence.
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