Protect yourself from rogue traders
Protect yourself from rogue traders
It’s so important for home improvers to access the best tradespeople and avoid falling prey to ‘cowboy builders’. A recommendation from friends and family is usually the preferred route but using a recommended supplier won’t always be enough to safeguard the investment you’re making in your property.
At the Certified Installer Network (CIN) we recommend ten top tips.
1. Look for someone who will be a design partner.
Often home-owners don’t quite know what they want when they set out on a home improvement project. They have an idea of what they want to achieve but they might not understand the best way to get it. When you talk to companies, make sure they are full of suggestions, above, below and on budget. From CIN installers you can expect your salesman to be talking about the latest technologies, ways to reduce your energy bills and products which are easy to operate and maintain. Look for someone who leaves you feeling fully informed and confident to make decisions in partnership.
2. Be suspicious of estimates which appear too good to be true
They probably are. Avoid getting lulled into a pressure sale – if the salesman calls his boss for a better price, it’s probably time to ask the salesman to leave.
3. Never pay money up front.
Make sure you receive a written quotation so the price is clear from the start, something we insist on through our network of CIN installers. Be sure that the quote covers everything from the initial setting up and purchasing of goods, right through to sweeping up the last bits of debris and taking them away (a good tradesperson should leave your property immaculate). If any elements of the job change or you ask for something new once the project is underway, be sure you are given a revised quote so that you don’t end up with an unexpected bill at the end.
4. Don’t welcome uninvited callers into your house.
You need to be able to trust the people in your house, particularly because you may not be in the house the entire time the work is being done. Find the most professional people through an association or network, only invite them in once you’ve made an appointment for a named person or team to come out to see you and check that they will be in uniform displaying proof of identity. You’ll see from our case studies and home improvers video that trust is a key factor.
5. Look into the associations and schemes of which companies claim to be members.
Cowboy builders may claim to be part of a well-known trade association or they may well invent a fictitious membership organisation or government scheme. Some will even go as far as using a bogus scheme’s logo on their website. First check that any memberships are current and then check that the scheme itself is worth its salt.
6. Be clear about planning permission.
Ensure everyone involved knows whose responsibility it is to submit paperwork and liaise with the various planning offices. If you live in a listed property or in a conservation area, the layers of required permission may be complex, with various organisations involved. To keep things as straightforward as possible, look for a builder or installer who is approved to carry out the work to comply with building regulations without involving your local authority building control. If you use a CIN installer, for example, you would simply be sent a certificate showing the work has been done by a registered installer.
7. Get a commitment around timescales.
The classic cowboy builder will let dates slip back, allow a job to drag on and perhaps never complete the work. A good tradesperson should also be a good communicator, making sure you are fully aware of any updates to the schedule. Our CIN installers understand you need to be able to plan your life around a specific start date and will provide you with a work schedule from the start.
8. Establish what level of disruption you should expect.
Your chosen tradesperson should be clear about what precautions will be taken to protect your house and belongings. We encourage all our CIN installers to cover items with dustsheets and protect the carpets by wearing covers over their shoes or creating temporary walkways. You need to be advised when it might be best for you to be out of the house, for example when the heating will need to be switched off, perhaps the water will be turned off or there might be brick dust flying around. A good tradesperson will also alert you to any hazards around the property, in particular equipment or material left on-site which might be dangerous to children.
9. Understand if security will be compromised while the work is being done.
Window and door security is paramount to secure your home, so make sure you understand what security features and benefits will be in place for the duration of the work being done at your property.
10. Establish what types of insurance and guarantees are in place.
Even more important is who is offering the guarantee and how long for – it may look like a fabulous guarantee, but if your tradesman goes out of business, then it will become worthless. All CIN installations come with an insurance-backed 10 guarantee, giving you complete confidence.