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Dealing With Cowboy Builders

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 28 Mar 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Builders Construction Rogue Traders

Cowboy builders are the bane of the construction industry. There are, on average, at least 100,000 complaints every year about them. They ruin things for perfectly reputable builders, and for all the talk about them, they’re in the minority – it just happens to be a minority that gets a lot of publicity.

Cowboy builders are simply rogue traders, of course, often with little or no knowledge of building, so you end up with a botched job – that’s if it’s finished at all.

Protecting Yourself From Cowboy Builders

The best thing is to learn to spot the cowboy builders early, so you can turn them away – it saves a lot of trouble later. The first tip-off is if they asked to be paid in cash, or cash-in-hand all with a promise on no VAT to be paid. No legitimate business will work off the books like that.

If they say a contract isn’t necessary, watch out – it’s vital in a business transaction like this, and without it, your legal position is nowhere near as strong. Most rogue builders don’t carry insurance, either, which again could work to your detriment if an accident occurred.

Are they willing to provide a written estimate and costings for the job, as well as a time frame for each stage of the work? A proper tradesman would, quite gladly. Where they do offer a quote, it could be unusually low, and they might offer to begin work immediately.

Do they have references? Do they have premises and a landline number, or simply a van and a mobile?

All of the above should raise red flags. You can protect yourself by having everything in writing and ask for a guarantee. Check references, talk to the people who’ve had the work done, and look at the work if possible. Ask your family and your friends for recommendations. Get several estimates and remember, cheapest isn’t always a savings.

It’s a help, too, if the builders and members of some trade group – although check that as well, since cowboy building firms have been known to fake membership. Finally, never pay in cash, and certainly never upfront – you should only pay for work that’s been completed.

What To Do If You’re A Victim Of A Cowboy Builder

Sometimes, though, the cowboys do win, and the building work is a shambles. What should have been wonderful construction work is a mess, and the builders have moved on. What can you do?

What they’ve done constitutes fraud, so you should complain to the police, giving them as much information on the builder as possible. Also complain to Trading Standards, which takes a very harsh view of rogue traders.

If you can track down the cowboy builder and he refuses to refund your money, take him to court. In the event of a small job, small claims court will likely suffice, and won’t cost you much. In the event of a big job, though, you will be looking at some hefty legal bills.Either way, it’s a lot of problems, and you still need to employ a proper builder to do the work correctly. The best solution, always, is to take the time and find someone who’ll do it right the first time.

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Someone else has mentioned Shaun Caspall/Lomax. Steer well clear! He screwed us over we took him to court and got a CCJ against him but he didnt pay!
Purplepenguin - 10-Mar-20 @ 2:26 PM
I have agreed with Stamela Christal Ltd to do some work. The guys kept asking for the money to be paid more often that they have done the job. They have never paid to their workers and they didnt do good job; they were lying about the building control that they have checked, they had no clue how to do the tiles, electricity and etc and they ran away. Dont trust if you see the names Vaidas Bauzys and Karolis Tunaitis they will tell you loads of lies, take money and ran away.
Lady - 26-Feb-20 @ 8:29 AM
I had a one storey extension fitted two years ago by S&D Home Improvements Bearsden (formally based in Clarkston). Issue after issue with drainage, blockages, heating faults,extensive water damage via the roof they fitted and have yet to fix properly leading to constant reoccurring issues with water getting in and damaging my decor. Also the windows fitted are not to a good standard and let in water.S&D will not carry out the repairs to a sufficient standard even although I have a 10 year warranty in place. The level of workmanship and customer service is beyond terrible. Such a bad experience with this builder even although their website shows positive reviews.
JR - 17-Feb-20 @ 7:15 PM
Never use shaun caspall aka shaun lomax of indi construction aka whitecross construction based in Warrington. He took me for 19k and only built a shell which was condemned by building control. He never came back after contacting him many times. He blamed building control, us and the designer for everything. Tried to get some money back through bailiffs etc. But on paper he didn't own anything so we ended up spending over 20k.
Djbarts - 16-Feb-20 @ 1:59 PM
I have used Stoneage builders from Solihull. They area very unprofessional and have poor work standard. They employ a group of workers who can’t speak English and don’t communicate while doing works. The director of the firm does not do site visits to check on works and is only interested in money. They have carried out works that were not in plan and demanded extra money. They have delayed my project by 3 months and have not completed it. I had to ask them to stop work as they were doing the works wrong and were wasting expensive units by not installing them as recommended.
Gav - 11-Feb-20 @ 8:06 PM
FLOORING: Having been ripped off by a Builder in Southwood, Farnborough, I needed a Flooring Fitter to remove the Builder's appalling work. I was recommended a called guy Rado ( BERTHA FLOORING READING ). He replaced 51 sp m of rubbish flooring with Quickstep wood flooring. If you need flooring use this guy. Nothing is too much trouble, he is a perfectionist, takes his time, very reasonable prices. I have recommended him to others, and they have been impressed with him. This is one tradesman you wont ne disappointed with !!
Patch - 10-Feb-20 @ 9:03 AM
Never deal with On-Call Building Maintenance Company based in Woolwich, Bexley area. The guys name is Robert Howett. He has been conning several people by taking money off gradually and using all excuses in terms of delays and finally when he has for enough out you he goes missing. Also towards the end he threatens people to pay up or says he will come around and smash up the work or smash you up. Already found out 4 young families being cheated since December for large sums of upto £47,000, £22,000. Including £13,700 from a church.
Lisa - 25-Jan-20 @ 6:36 AM
We employed Neil Parry, plastering and property maintenance from Rhyl to carry out a full house refurbishment.His son, James Neil Parry, c/o JNP plastering and JNP building and Plastering carried out the plastering and tiling.The work by both was and still is shocking.We have well and truly been taken advantage of and £20,000 has been wasted.It will cost another £10,000 to put right all the poor work these two have carried out and should be avoided at all costs.Their work is not compliant with building regs and fed up of hearing excise after excise.Thankfully the matter has been passed to Trading Standards for recording and investigating.
Nezer - 20-Jan-20 @ 7:17 PM
I employed john houghton of rightway construction Bridgnorth to do an extension on my house in August 2019, everything he did was wrong. He even drilled through my brand new bathroom floor and underfloor heating which I I had had done separately and then filled the hole with grout denying all knowledge , the windows weren’t fitted right and fill with water. The roof leaks. I have drainage problems . He fitted a broken back door and also broke my conservatory doors. The new room floor has crumbled and my garage isn’t fire proof at all with gaping holes and open cavity to room above . He even managed to get it signed off!! Which I must add has now been revoked . He calls all this snagging and wants to come back and spend a day “finishing off” AVOID at all costs . I can’t believe I was fooled like this
Dolly mixture - 7-Jan-20 @ 1:02 AM
We asked Craig Best of Heat Save, Bishop Auckland to fit a gas fire/surround. His quote asked for 50% up front and the rest on completion once we were happy with the job. From day one it was a disaster, he could not get the fire in time then after 6 weeks he turned up with the fire and work crew. They cut a hole in the chimney breast that was so big that the surround could fit through it, no dust sheets, they broke part of the surround and tried to fix with Araldite, the fitting was undertaken by an unqualified worker, the list goes on and on, this was in October we did not get to use the fire until the following Spring after the manufacturers had sent one of their technicians from the other side of the country to fix the damage and service the fire. I asked Craig Best to return to our house and repair the damage that his workers had caused to the surround. He refused and set debt collectors on to me, I have had a quote of £2,200 to repair the damage and told each debt collection agency that he has sent of the trouble that I have had with this guy and his refusal to repair the damage, thankfully these agencies have seen that I am in my rights to withhold the 50% remaining until he has repaired the damage. This all started in September 2017, he finally stopped harassing me early 2019 and I thought that was that! Last night I received a threatening phone call from someone who withheld their number and told me that he had taken on the debt and that he was coming to get his money. He stated a lot of facts about me which he could have got off Facebook but it’s concerning that somebody who I asked in all good faith to do a job in my home has left me with a fire that looks 20 odd years and I’m receiving threats, the police are aware of the situation and I am seeking legal advice. Please have nothing to do with this company
NowWiser - 3-Jan-20 @ 7:14 PM
Please dont use JB Maintenance Services in Medway. I hired them to do my roof , they took the money and did a shoddy job leaving my roof leaking and not cleaning the gutters . Now they are refusing to do the work again. Please don’t hire them.
Chatham - 1-Jan-20 @ 11:54 PM
In August 2018, we employed a builder with company name Pro-Build Constructions to do side extension and back extension. He gave us a quote of 25,000 for everything. His name is Martin Davies. He promised to finish by October, 2018 but did not. He went for Christmas break in 2018 but never returned after that. We had paid the full amount. When we called building regualtions, they said the works he had done was not according to building regulations and everything needs to be knocked down and built up again. We complained to Action fraud but we got nothing in return. What should we do?
MP2000 - 24-Dec-19 @ 8:22 PM
Please avoid at ali costs! Stourbidge lofts! Lots of issues!
millo - 20-Dec-19 @ 1:46 AM
I have had the misfortune to try to get building work done by crooked Avtar Singh of Reading. He operatesinThames Valley. He has charged me double what he had originally been agreed and still walked away from the job over a month ago with all my money paid up front. Now not returning any of my calls Desperate for help to get my money back and complete the job
BuilderSingh - 18-Dec-19 @ 1:50 PM
Ben, could you get in touch with me via insta mariaminsta158.My family is also a victim to him. I have gathered info on him. Hope you see this. Please request a message and send proof of anything to ensure i am not dealing with his fake self
Mariam - 18-Dec-19 @ 12:04 AM
In 2018 myself and my wife made an offer on a property built by Brice Homes Limited of Coventry (Company Number 05967024). A company led by Roy and Lee Summers. Our main contact was the lead builder Tony who seemed to be the face of the company. All communication was done through him. After a week of negotiations and calls with Tony we were pushed up to more than we thought it was worth, the offer was accepted of the condition we paid a £5000 reservation fee which we was told (in writing) would be refundable should we decide to withdraw from the purchase. Everything went smoothly until two weeks before completion when the searches came back and the bank down valued the property. The bank felt it wasn’t worth what Roy and Tony wanted either. As a result we pulled out of the purchase. Since then we’ve sent multiple emails about our reservation fee refund, all of which have been completely ignored. Tony our main point of contact, who arranged taking payment has given us every excuse imaginable as too the whereabouts of the company owners and refuses to give us any contact details. 3 months down the line we are £5000 out of pocket (plus thousands in solicitor fees) the property is now back up on the Market under a different name. Astley Mill, Astley, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV10. To anyone considering dealing with these cowboy builders please BEWARE and AVOID dealing with them at all costs.
Jason - 13-Dec-19 @ 10:50 PM
In 2018 myself and my wife made an offer on a property built by Brice Homes Limited of Coventry (Company Number 05967024). A company led by Roy and Lee Summers. Our main contact was the lead builder Tony who seemed to be the face of the company. All communication was done through him. After a week of negotiations and calls with Tony we were pushed up to more than we thought it was worth, the offer was accepted of the condition we paid a £5000 reservation fee which we was told (in writing) would be refundable should we decide to withdraw from the purchase. Everything went smoothly until two weeks before completion when the searches came back and the bank down valued the property. The bank felt it wasn’t worth what Roy and Tony wanted either. As a result we pulled out of the purchase. Since then we’ve sent multiple emails about our reservation fee refund, all of which have been completely ignored. Tony our main point of contact, who arranged taking payment has given us every excuse imaginable as too the whereabouts of the company owners and refuses to give us any contact details. 3 months down the line we are £5000 out of pocket (plus thousands in solicitor fees) the property is now back up on the Market under a different name. Astley Mill, Astley, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV10. To anyone considering dealing with these cowboy builders please BEWARE and AVOID dealing with them at all costs.
Jason - 13-Dec-19 @ 10:49 PM
We had few builders doing different things. Extension was done approx 2years ago. You can see straight away how badly windows were installed, bifolding door had to be taken out and re-installed. Windowsill are wonky. Extension roof is leaking. Plastering was done by small child, it could not be professional. I cannot look at ceilings at all. Plaster is coming off from all the plasterboards screws, leaving holes. Electric underfloor heating was put wrong (we had professional company to Complete survey), we have infrared photos of how badly it was installed, for example mats are overlapping or big areas are not covered at all. My “fav” is underfloor heating mat was put exactly under the toilet pan. Painting and decorating was done so badly I have no words to describe it. I can see patches made from brush, who is painting walls with brushes? Wrong paint was used to paint bespoke furnitures. Kitchen was installed in best case mediocre. Non of skirting boards or arches are finished. Tiling in toilet downstairs was done so bad it looks like tile was bite not cut. Vanity sink cupboard was installed touching the door frame, although there was plenty of space to move it away from it. I am in the edge. Carrying big stone on my chest. Never experience such a stress and helplessness. Its not even about lost money, but lost trust. Its just surreal how people can be blinded by money, and how they will do anything to get it. Leaving you with hole in chest filled with rubble from your home....
B.no - 14-Nov-19 @ 10:58 AM
We had few builders doing different things. Extension was done approx 2years ago. You can see straight away how badly windows were installed, bifolding door had to be taken out and re-installed. Windowsill are wonky. Extension roof is leaking. Plastering was done by small child, it could not be professional. I cannot look at ceilings at all. Plaster is coming off from all the plasterboards screws, leaving holes. Electric underfloor heating was put wrong (we had professional company to Complete survey), we have infrared photos of how badly it was installed, for example mats are overlapping or big areas are not covered at all. My “fav” is underfloor heating mat was put exactly under the toilet pan. Painting and decorating was done so badly I have no words to describe it. I can see patches made from brush, who is painting walls with brushes? Wrong paint was used to paint bespoke furnitures. Kitchen was installed in best case mediocre. Non of skirting boards or arches are finished. Tiling in toilet downstairs was done so bad it looks like tile was bite not cut. Vanity sink cupboard was installed touching the door frame, although there was plenty of space to move it away from it. I am in the edge. Carrying big stone on my chest. Never experience such a stress and helplessness. Its not even about lost money, but lost trust. Its just surreal how people can be blinded by money, and how they will do anything to get it. Leaving you with hole in chest filled with rubble from your home....
B.no - 14-Nov-19 @ 10:00 AM
Don’t have Sean Livesey of Cateright plumber to do any work, he asks for money up front and when you ask for the materials to be brought to site it never happens. Never works more than 4 hrs per day and very little progress or he doesn’t come at all. When you complain he says you are always pecking my head. He always has an excuse why he can’t get on. He tells you what he will install and then you get something different but you must not complain. Don’t use this poor excuse for a human being
Fishman - 13-Nov-19 @ 10:47 PM
Jimkins.I have had the same problem with this builder.Nightmare.
Gpt - 9-Nov-19 @ 7:47 AM
Summary of events regarding building work carried out by WDJ Landscape & Garden Design ltd later part 2017, despite name services provided are comprehensive, issues during work being done, completed work, superficially, best described as OK, not great, I guess I had resigned myself to accept that this was as good that he could manage, can I mention during this period had health issues and since. After a couple of months had problems with water ingress, I took a closer look at work done and found numerous faults/defects, spent months contacting builder tocome back redo which he not Decided to use small claim court, paying claim & hearing fees costing hundreds of £'s, leading up to hearing, court required expert evidence of quality of work, single expert instructed by both parties jointly, his fee to be paid equally, arranged surveyor to carry out inspection, report stated materials unsuitable, poor workmanship, crudely applied, this report along with otherdoc's to produce at hearing and sent other side who never acknowledged to receiving. Correspondence sent by defendant that stated WDJ had ceased, no longer viable and insolvent, this is not true Day of hearing defendant did not attend, Judgmentin my favour, defendant ordered to pay amount of claim plus costs and fees, which he ignored, I never received penny, transferred CCJ to high court via court enforcement for fee a plus after a period of compliance another fee added to other cost for defendant to pay, court enforcement officers visit his premises which he is informed of prior, helpful to him, in the 15 minutes spent at property found no assets of any value, I passed on to them reg plate no of vehicles of company to find out who owns them, not heard from them since and despite repeated requests by surveyor for payment of his fee, defendant has also ignored, although I paid my half of fee, surveyor now me to pay other half, because appointee and client jointly and severally responsible to pay. The whole processof going to court has been a complete waste of time, financially and huge amount of time, from work beginning to this point is nearly two years, Judgment/order document a worthless piece of paper I complied with all that was required court but i am the loser, other side has lost nothing, courts cannot force money owed to be paid, system benefits those at fault and in the wrong, but everyone else is making money with fees, you cannot take director/owner to court unless you have evidence to fraud or misconduct. By chance I found discovered Mr William J Kitson owner/director of WDJ also has another company, Jwk building & landscaping operating from same address and same registered office address, he seems to run them in tandem, Jwk can be found on both tradeand stone supplies web sites both companies are active on Companies House web site, any assets that are in his personal name and not in company name means he's not liable company debt, from what I can see he's untouchable, t
mic - 7-Nov-19 @ 3:55 PM
Steer clear of waheed hussain butt of wb infrastructure limited Birmingham he took out 2 Chimneys in my house left me without a bedroom for 3 months. Had to get another tradesman to complete the floor boards, he left holes in the roof so I had to pay for that to be repaired. Now I'm having to pay for a structural engineer to come out to assess the safety of the property. He asks for money up front and lies about purchasing the materials. BEWARE!
Caz - 4-Nov-19 @ 7:28 PM
Joseph buckley of wood landscapes near Bristol did half a job and then disappeared stating that he had a crisis and then no communication. He asked for money upfront and the labour and materials did not match the work done. I am now taking to small claims court.Avoid.
Karma - 2-Nov-19 @ 2:11 PM
Hi, I had a Builder called David WELSH for renovating my house (Kitchen Renovation, New shower and installing the French Door by removing the window in the Lounge), he is a CowBoy Builder. He took all the money upfront (£8000.00) saying that he need to buy the materials. He came and did some work and he walked away by leaving all jobs in the middle. When I call him he will never pick up the phone. After calling him so many times he picked up the call, when I asked him will you come and finish off the work he will say yes, I will come tomorrow, then he will never turn up. Is there anyway to get my money back from him. please suggest me. MY HUMBLE REQUEST TO EVERYONE PLEASE DON'T TRUST HIM. IF YOU FIND HIS NAME IN ANY BUILDER SITES PLEASE DON@T CONTACT HIViji - 31-Oct-19 @ 11:43 AM
Please stay clear of kolin kesson possibly Newcastle or South Shields area and Lee Watling of South Shields area.we found them through my builder paid them up front for work they never done, so basically lost all of the money. All of this was done through my builder, but as kolin kesson gave a false address to my builder there's nothing much we can do. If anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated.
Jimkins - 25-Oct-19 @ 3:29 PM
Just wondering why these cowboys jobbers could not be stopped by legislation. Got defrauded by one Shaun Caspall previously Shaun Lomax and just blatantly blanked me after getting 23k for an extension with just the walls done without cavity insulation to show for it.Had my back garden messed up with waste and excavates from the foundationon my back garden.etc
Ben - 20-Oct-19 @ 10:47 PM
Avoid Andy Sewett - he is a true cowboy builder! He left us with a building that has so many problems that we had to take it down. He is very nice in the beginning then becomes threatening when he "THINKS" he is owned money for a sub-par job! It is quite scary!
Lisa - 14-Oct-19 @ 1:05 PM
SA BUILDERS.ARMENIAN BUNCH OF UNSKILLED WORKERS. THEY SAY THEY DO EVERYTHING FROM GAS TO ELECTRICS. NOT A SINGLE TEST CARRIED OUT AFTER ADDING TO EXISTING CIRCUITS! ROOF LEAKED AFTER A LOFT CONVERSION. DIDNT WANT TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL ROOFER REPAIR IT.STILL OWES ME FOR THE REPAIR. ROMFORD.GOES BY THE NAME ARBEN OR BEN
Brogsy - 11-Oct-19 @ 2:12 PM
Steer clear of Luke and Daniel Ray near Reading. Patio work overpriced. Payment demanded with threats to property. They may be in roofing now. No receipt, no guarantee, no VAT, no final bill. Further action taken.
Henry - 8-Oct-19 @ 8:21 PM
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