Building Trade Scams: How They Work
Cowboy builders are everywhere in the trade but they can be tricky to spot. Unlike the cowboys of your favourite Western, a cowboy builder seldom wears a Stetson and spurs. And while they very rarely ride a horse to work, they're perfectly happy ripping you off from the comfort of a white van.
But whether they're plumbers, painters, landscapers or bricklayers, the basic principle of scamming tradespeople is the same – they'll all leave a path of half-finished plasterwork or dodgy paving in their wake.
Much like the villains in any Western, they rarely care about the ethics of their actions. Instead, they'll happily make you pay upfront, then scarper quicker than a bandit during a bank robbery after they've barely begun.
All of this might make contacting a tradesperson seem intimidating, but some thorough background checks can help identify dodgy builders.
With that in mind, here are a few tips on how you can find a tradesperson who won't rip you off.
Check Their Website
The quality of a site often reflects the quality of a business. So if a tradesperson has a cleverly laid-out website or even a well-maintained Facebook page, then there's a high chance that they're an established company you can trust.
The paving stone pros at Marchington Stone, for example, have a website that is easy to navigate and replete with plenty of details about their working history. Moreover, their blog section has content which dates back to 2016, implying longevity that means they won't disappear before a job's complete.
This is just one example of a building provider, but it's a solid rule of thumb – if their site's rubbish, don't trust them!
In these times of Google Reviews, Better Business Bureau and Check A Trade, gathering useful feedback from customers is vital to running a trade business. This has led to some businesspeople counterfeiting reviews of their company to throw people off the scent of deception, but for the most part, review sites are kosher.
If you want to know whether a tradesperson is worth their salt, then thoroughly reading reviews is the most effective way to find out.
Tradespeople require a certain level of training before they can carry out work as independent businesspeople. What these accreditations are will change depending on the profession you need, but they're also easy to track down thanks to Google.
Before you hire a tradesperson, request details of any accreditations they may have, along with paperwork which proves they have them. That way, you'll know exactly what to expect.
Word of Mouth
Did your friend have a good experience with a plumber? Or was your mum happy with the work of an electrician? Then chances are these are the people you should hire.
An effective tradesperson is always happy to receive custom via word of mouth – it proves their skills before they've even completed a job for you
That's our list! Can you think of any other ways to avoid cowboy builders? Then let us know in the comments below!
Building Trade Scams: How To Report Them
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How To Protect Yourself More
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