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Ploughcroft Ltd.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of 'Cowboy' Builders | Ploughcroft

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of ‘Cowboy’ Builders

You can’t knock an independent and honest tradesman (or tradeswoman) who is qualified and hardworking trying to make a living.
In fact, at Ploughcroft we fully support a qualified and skilled one-man (or woman!) band – it’s the ‘cowboy’ builders and unscrupulous individuals that we would never endorse.

Recently we had an elderly customer call us for help when an unannounced ‘tradesman’ knocked on his door to tell him that he needed his gutters cleaning. However, the ‘tradesman’ proceed to climb up onto the roof and pull off the slates, breaking them as he did so. The ‘tradesman’ then demanded £5000 from our customer to reroof the property.

When his roof began to leak due to the damage caused our customer called Ploughcroft. The elderly gentleman was a regular customer of Ploughcroft and when we told our team what had happened, they volunteered to patch the roof up free of charge.

‘Cowboy’ Builders: A Widespread Problem

Sadly, this case isn’t an isolated one, which is why we would like to highlight how important it is to be aware of these unethical scams and warn elderly friends, family and neighbours about them too.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t just within the roofing industry either. According to AOL. over 40,000 people contacted Citizens’ Advice regarding being a victim of a home improvement scam in 2016. Of the people that complained, there were nearly 5000 issues relating to roofing, over 4750 kitchen fitting incidents, just under 4000 cases regarding doors and windows and more than 3000 problems surrounding plumbing and the same number of complaints revolving around jobs relating to patio, decking and driveways.

Ploughcroft’s Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Home Improvement Scam

  1. Do Your Research – Check out the website and/or social media profiles of any tradesperson or business before you hire them to do any type of home improvement work on your property. Ask yourself: Does their website look up-to-date? Does their website look professional?
  2. Photos – While researching their website and/or social media profiles have a look for photos of their previous work. Do they have a gallery or portfolio of work you are free to look through? Do the photos look recent and professional? Any legitimate tradesman/woman would be proud to showcase their work on and offline, so even if your prospective builder is a small freelancer and doesn’t have a website, you should still be able to ask for physical photos demonstrating their previous work.
  3. Testimonials and Case Studies – Keep an eye out for reviews from previous customers and on your potential tradesman/woman’s website. Reputable trades professionals would enthusiastically display their testimonials and case studies.
  4. Accreditations and Qualifications – Whilst photos and testimonials could, in a very well thought out scam, be faked, accreditations and qualifications can’t be. As a potential customer, you’re entitled to ask for proof of relevant professional qualifications and accreditations.You should check with professional accreditation bodies and regulations that the person is who they claim to be. For example, if you use the ‘Find your local Which? Trusted trader’ search tool to find a roofer in the Halifax area, Ploughcroft appear in the search results as being a Which? Trusted Trader endorsed by Which?
  5. Cash Payment and Not Offering Written Quotes – Only asking for cash payments should sound alarm bells as it indicates the ‘tradesman’ might not be paying VAT. Likewise, showing reluctance to put an estimate or quote into writing is a warning sign that they are not committed and could mean they are unlikely to stick to the price originally agreed between the two of you.

If you’re in doubt about any work you’ve had done you can visit the Consumer Rights Expert, the Citizens’ Advice website, who share their own tips on how to spot a ‘cowboy’ builder here, or contact Which? Consumer Rights.

We are always happy to help at Ploughcroft as well. Contact us today.


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