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Dealing With Cowboy Builders

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Oct 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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Please please avoid andrew oates liverpool of landscape industries he took £3000 from us left our garden a right mess and fled with our money, he's a conman a liar, DO NOT GIVE HIM MONEY UPFRONT PLEASE, IF YOU KNOW WE'RE THIS SCUMBAG LIVES LEAVE ME A MESSAGE THANKYOU
Norman kaid - 25-Oct-20 @ 7:16 PM
Cris Webber, from Aberdare/Mountain Ash, trades as 'CSW Construction' is a liar, thief and fakes certificates and work done. He is totally inept, a horrible human and even worse plasterer. He cannot be trusted.
RealInvestor - 19-Oct-20 @ 10:46 PM
The unfortunate victims of James mcginity please take himto court he’s done this over and over again I worked for him and his scumbag dad before they ripped me and the client off They must be brought to justice otherwise they will continue they are both dirty rotten , spineless cretins You should always check people out on google, Facebook ect
Paul b - 13-Oct-20 @ 9:39 PM
Avoid Ademola Atobaru from J.Mays Construction Ltd. He did not treat walls before painting, the paint started to peel of immeditely. I spent over 2k on wooden floors, the floors were not fitted properly, they were scratched and damaged. He did not put any protection over the floors after fitting them as well. I had to purchase new floors and get a new builder to redo the work he did. In addition to this he did not put any protection over the kitchen worktop, as a result of this it was scratched and damaged. I paid him over him over 75% of the total quote (5k) even though had only completed less than 10 percent of the work. When I asked for a refund and made him aware of the damages, he sent me abusive texts.
chi - 12-Oct-20 @ 3:59 PM
AVOID AVOID AVOID Mr KAMAL AL WADI WHO CALLS HIS COMPANY S&A Renovation his contact is Mr Mohamed Kamal Alwadi 180 Grove Road Romford RM6 4XB, 07759 038641 He is a big fraud and Thief He ain’t a Builder he run away with our Money and disappeared and the address His using he don’t leave there beware Gumtree and shpock.
Shah - 11-Oct-20 @ 1:29 AM
Avoid JAMES PAUL McGinnity at all costs! He is trading under the name of JPM Construction as a sole trader. He has conned us of a lot of money and has left the house in shambles! He is an fraud. He also stole our money for the deposit for our tiles. There is a whole forum dating back to 2013 where he has conned people out of money. Has dissolved his company over 6 times. Please avoid!!!
EBM - 9-Oct-20 @ 8:15 PM
We have been wanting an orangery for ages and looked around. We avoided our local conservatory companies as we heard mixed reviews. Thought I was being pragmatic! After much research we contacted Tyneside home improvement from 2 Hanlon court, Jarrow to build a conservatory. The sales pitch, demo etc was impressive price finalised we paid a deposit same day. Work started on 14 th June and nearly 4 months on, has still not been completed. Right from the start we had to chase the company for everything. Nothing was clear or forthcoming from the company. The catalog of problems we have had to face the distress & anxiety cannot be put in words. Firstly, The conservatory floor height was above normal due to the garden level so they had to lay bricks steping into the garden. Laid flags on top of the bricks- One side of the step was at least 9 inches out and looked awful so had to be cut. That put into motion the string of emails to THI. Emailed pictures and they sent the same bricklayer to cut it short next day and lay concrete flooring(still not equal both sides) Once the shell was ready we had wait for 5 weeks for the glass roof as it was on order! Blame Covid! The glass arrived after 7 but no patio doors. For 3 weeks we had thick cloth and plastic nailed to the back of the house facing our garden. Once the roof was installed we checked the work next morning only torealise that 3 of the panes were a different shade. The concrete flooring laid by THI builder cracked badly and was not levelled. Two tilers refused to work when they saw the floor level. We contacted THI and they sent another builder to complete the job, twice using self leveller and as a resultthe conservatory floor ended up higher than the existing level. Still bumps and ridges everywhere. Emails and numerous phone calls later the manager came to level the floor himself as they could not get builders. A full days work of concrete grinding noise is not all we had to endure, the dust and mess it made was more than what we bargained for. Patio doors fitted, electrical jobs, plastering completed ; bear in mind we had to chase every bit of work and the workers dates. Nothing was forthcoming from them. Not once did the mangers or staff offer any apology for the delay or for not showing up at all. Numerous times we were waiting for workers to arrive but it was no show! 2 weeks ago I emailed THI giving them an ultimatum to complete the pending jobs orelse we would seek legal advice and claim compensation, they replied it will be done and finalised in 2 weeks. The 3 panes of wrong shade was to be replaced yesterday 7/10/20 after waiting for another 4 weeks. The manger came with the glass roof and fitted one of the three. He comes down promptly and says it’s another shade so now we have 3 different shades of blue roof glass. Today again 8/10 after waiting all day for the joiner to fit skirting board, he finally shows up at 3:05 pm to say he finishes at 4:00
Flexyrob - 8-Oct-20 @ 11:20 PM
NEVER EVER go with Darren Justice from DJG construction and Roofing or Richard (Ricky) Davidson who provides the cowboy builders. They are from Windsor and Maidenhead. Totally destroyed our home promising so much but then ran off. When I contacted them they became so threatening and abusive. There is so much I have to get redone and finish off. They are dodgy as hell.... avoid avoid avoid!! I have reported them to the police!
Karma - 4-Oct-20 @ 8:54 AM
Never use Project 1 Design and Build in Ealing, London.Steve Ward is a fraudster.He left our house half finished having taken as much money as he could - The work is a disgrace and we have spent thousands putting it right.I know of three other clients locally who have been conned by him - one woman had water pouring through her skylights and when I visited her she was in tears.Steve Ward's wife manages the company finances and is also a ciminal.
Holly - 4-Oct-20 @ 6:35 AM
Avoid Loftexdesign based in London (Daniel&Marius) at all costs. They are scammers and will take off without competing the job and with as much money as they can swindle!
MC - 1-Oct-20 @ 12:20 PM
Never use Affordable building services Tollerton Darren Halcro, started a work in our house in November 2019 and now end of September 2020 still not completed the work and left half of our house without the roof.He is starting new jobs without finishing the previous and taking money upfront without delivering promised goods / services.
Fiamma - 29-Sep-20 @ 6:29 PM
Avoid Danny the plasterer from Ashton under Lyne. And his girlfriend Saffron Cassel - SC plastering. Claims to be an experienced plasterer he left my house in a shocking state with falling walls that were not bonded right . Cracks everywhere and collapsing plaster . I will be complaining to trading standards and citizens advice
Nick - 26-Sep-20 @ 6:27 PM
CalCait construction & Maintenance Gavin and Callum Just had these people do my kitchen fitting and some small remedial building works. I got his card from Magnets in Merthyr Tydfil asked them if he was OK they said they had supplied kitchens to him he was an ex police officer. What can I say except I have been conned I paid in full have been asking for electrical sign off no replyThey do not have any electrical, plumbing, or building certificates they have left my kitchen in a terrible state holes in ceiling shoddy kitchen fitting all edges are frayed holes in walls, bodged up cheap flooring, and you need to see to believe the coving I was quoted for plastering the mess that left was horrendous it took me 3 hours to clean up itbc was so bad I had to take up the old flooring it was like a muddy swimming pool no sheets used whatsoever The off cut of oak worktop I had to really keep an eye out I found chunks hidden behind plasterboard that was not going to be used what more can I say. I will be taking these cowboys to small claims court once I have pricing for the work that needs to be done to rectify the awful mess they left me in I am also informing trading standards. Rouge traders need to be stopped it’s not fair to decent people who work hard for what they have. Do not employ under any circumstance they are the builders from hell Never ever use these cowboys
Nic - 2-Sep-20 @ 5:18 PM
Ian Bray known as brummy works in Lancaster morecambe carnforth Blackpool area avoid cowboy wrecked my home I have learnt the hard and expensive way please do not employ this cowboy
Anne - 30-Aug-20 @ 10:51 AM
My 95-year-old great aunt was charged £500 for an approx 6 ft run picket fence. In less than 6 weeks the “carpenter” has already had to replace the latch and hinge and add 2 blocks to the back of the gate so the latch lines up with the fence. The gate has since dropped further so that it catches on the ground and the posts have split. The hinge is also coming away from the post again. I asked him either to replace the whole lot or refund my aunt, less materials. He initially offered to replace the split timber and adjust the latch but got nasty when I repeated my requests. I think he has ripped off my elderly and vulnerable aunt. I have emailed Trading Standards and local MP. Any other advice/thoughts please?
Gaby - 10-Aug-20 @ 6:51 PM
Anyone having issues with Sean Stanway and Kyle Stanway email the address below with info. letmeknowtstoke at aol dot com
Cowboys - 10-Aug-20 @ 5:37 PM
Never use Darren Edward's of Swe Builders from Rushden. He trades under lots of different businesses to. His business is registered to 28 Crofts Way in Rushden. He will ask you to visit his address and take a look at his work and the extension he has finished. He will introduce you to his family who are probably in on his rogue trading and Fraud.
Tee - 8-Aug-20 @ 1:50 PM
Never use Sean and Kyle Stanway from Tunstall Stoke on Trent. Took money for materials during lock down never delivered materials and couldn't do the extension , any work carried out will have to be re done and they left my house uninhabitable my children and I are left living in a caravan. They has been reported for fraud.Also be wary of Association of Master Tradesmen as they do not have a scooby doo of their tradesman and are off no help.
Kev - 7-Aug-20 @ 7:17 PM
Don't be fooled by CRAIG JONES in Nottingham. He says he is a landscape gardener and builder. He gave us a price for agreed work, and has almost doubled the cost since, because of needing more materials than he thought,and the job taking longer. We had a patio repaired and made bigger - it's not level at all. We had posts and gravel boards put in for fence panels, which we now find are not level,and the panels don't fit in them. A job which was supposed to be 2 days has been over a month now,and it's still not done. Constant asking him to come and fix his work (only the posts mind) and he promises... but never delivers anything.
Jeff - 3-Aug-20 @ 7:07 PM
NEVER USE SMART ROOFING AND HOME IMPROVEMENT BASED IN WALTON ON THAMES. They claim to be a roofer but they are not as they taken my money now they have caused significant damage to the roof.
Alfie - 31-Jul-20 @ 7:45 PM
Never use Prime Renovation and Maintenance and Room and Roof. Their 'Director' Ashly Burguess has taken £ 41,000 from a house refurbishment project never finished which includes demolition of a structural wall and a chimney breast. The criminal run away with the money living the house no safe and in an appalling state. He and his companies have been reported to the police, the house of companies, banks, etc. Since then, his companies have been struck off. The police are chasing but you know how things are; slow. I still have hope to recover something but if I can put him behind bars I will be happy! He was selected from a website called Rated People who have also expelled the thug to their list!
Johann - 26-Jul-20 @ 4:33 PM
Please dont use Tonny Dutton from Orpington. He took our money more than £10000 after 50% of the job done , disappeard for a while and even his workers didnt receive wages. Suddenly answered the phone one day and promised this and that, then heard nothing from him since apart from once verbally threatened us and we had to report to police.. He even ignored the court letter and I believe he filed his company bankruptcy then opened another one. Nothing really we could do. Luckily we found a very good one afterwards and still using them.
Rob - 26-Jul-20 @ 2:17 PM
Please do not use NewLook building services Ltd based in Chesterfield. They are cowboy builders.They took our deposit worth £5000 and disappeared. We managed to track them down and found they own another registered company called NewLook plastics Limited. The owner is Sean Garlands.
Mjay - 11-Jul-20 @ 7:23 PM
BQH Builders leicester AVOID take your money and disappear then use wifes bank account to transfer funds. Trading Standards and Council dealing with them as few more cases have like this have come to surface, thats why after leaving leaving bad review on facebook page their page was taken off.. shows guilt and from comment below they claim this is slander so when we meet in court as the authorities are compiling a case lets see if it is slander. !!
pram - 11-Jul-20 @ 1:15 PM
Never use COLL MACDONALD from Isle Ornsay on the Isle of Skye. I paid him 2k for rewire and to install shower. He has wrecked every room in the house, put holes in water pipes, pulled kitchen ceiling down, made holes in every wall. Wrecked new flooring, cut and broke floorboards and left the house a death trap with the wiring. One room has no power at all. He's also messed with CH system. Refusing to give me a refund. I have to now get electrician, plumber and plasterer. The building has been stood for 120 years with no problems until now.
Suki - 7-Jul-20 @ 5:35 PM
Never use Paul Darbyshire Construction in the North West. Absolute cowboy. Just take a look at companies house to see how many companies have been struck off or gone bankrupt and then set up under a different name. Compulsive liar, increasing costs and never on the job. Legal action has been taken.
Joey b - 4-Jul-20 @ 2:38 AM
Do not use David Kimmitt of Leeds. Describes himself as a builder - DK Building Solutions/ Construction/ Ltd or not (has used a number of names). Essentially, he asks for money up front (for building materials), doesn't turn up, lots of excuses why work not done (usually blames other people), increasingly threatening behaviour when approached, end of day- quality substandard- needed to spend a lot of money to put things right. This man is a rogue trader. Initially charming, offers a low quote but has no conscience at all. I don't expect he ever expects to finish a job. His work has been inspected by several independent builders and they state that he cannot possibly be a builder such is the low quality of his work. Do NOT trust him with your house or money.
JS - 30-Jun-20 @ 11:38 AM
We booked WBA building and construction based in Cheltenham via Facebook search, to supply and fit a garden bar at cost of £550. We paid deposit of £275 as requested on 4th Jun. He was due complete the work on Sat 13th Jun. The Thursday beforehand he contacted to say as the weather was poor he would not be able to carry out the work. However, on the Saturday we contacted him and said as the weather looked good would he be coming to complete the work. This he said he would and would call 30 minutes beforehand so we didn’t have to wait in. As the day progressed we heard nothing and I started to attempt to contact. Eventually he answered and restated his intention to do the work. When he failed to do so or even let us know as it was getting later wouldn’t turn up we realised something was wrong. The next day after numerous attempts via text and calls, (22 calls of which none were answered), he eventually agreed to refund the money after 1430. This did not happen and at 1920 on 13th Jun he stated he refunded the money but would take 48 hours to clear, something my bank informed me would only take about two hours max as was a bank transfer. Clearly he has not done this. Having sent messages today giving more opportunity to refund I left negative feedback on Facebook. He has subsequently taken the page down, not the actions of someone who is genuine. I understand he used to trade as WBA Cleaning and Maintenance according to his invoice he sent. I am still out of pocket to the tune of £275.
SeanM - 15-Jun-20 @ 1:57 PM
RUMOUR Home Improvements, Farnborough / Camberley area. AVOID. Fitted me new composite front door, all sorts of adjustments issues. Failed to respond to repeated requests to return to amend or repair. Asked Fensa to help, powerless. Have had builder and then door fitter to assist, product 5/10, installation rated 1/10. Dont waste your money.
mickey1 - 2-Jun-20 @ 7:28 AM
I recentlyhire a man Jamie Cox in stoke on trent to do some garden job after he getting the deposit no response after several calls and messages he turned up do some work ,grass removed ,fence removed left mud and limestone unattended,after several lies make new story's to get more money, told him I can't leave the garden as this state got a 4 year old boy keep running to the main road, no sign of him to complete the job ,keep asking money, previously he was not responding my messages and calls now i am doing the same block him on phone Plan to do myself the rest of the work
Kathrin - 1-Jun-20 @ 5:54 PM
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