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Tel: 01243 601234


Playing it safe to protect your home from cowboys

Published in South Wales Evening Post & Camarthen Journal


Martin Roberts, TV property expert, author and presenter of Homes under the Hammer offers advice and guidence on all things property related.


If you're into home improving,then sooner or later you're probably going to need the help of tradesmen - that is unles you are doing a bit of basic painting and decorating or are a complete DIY genius.

But you may have heard the horror stories of people like you getting ripped off by dodgy builders and trust me they are out there.

If you are not careful, not only could the people you get in to help, make a complete pig's ear of your home, they could also end up costing you a lot of money.

So what should you do when you need to get a tradesman or contractor in, and how do you avoid being the next victim of dodgy builders?

If you can, use people that have been recommended to you by others - word of mouth is by far the best way to be introduced to someone.

Take up references with other satisfied customers and if possible, speak to people that have had similar work done.

Be aware of people who cold call.  Good reliable contractors are kept busy without the need to knock on doors to drum up work.

If you are unable to get someone by personal recommendation, contact the relevant trade bodies for a list of people who are in your area.

Avoid any contractor who only has a mobile phone number.  Ideally you want a land line telephone number, address of the office and details of trade association membership.

Brief the contractor thoroughly on the jobs that you want them to carry out and write down a detailed list.  Make sure that the contractor fully understands what you want before they quote.

Make sure you get a written quotation or estimate for the work.  You need to get three seperate quotes.  Keep all quotations, as well as your own notes on file.  This way you have a back up of what was said and agreed at what cost.

If you can, get the work on a fixed price basis - so you don't end up coughing up more dough if the job takes longer than anticipated.

Don't be seduced by 'special deals' if you sign a contract for the work there and then - especially if they also ask for a large payment as well.  Any deal that seems too good to be true, probably is.

Get a start date and estimated finish date.  A late finish for the work could affect the rest of your building schedule.

Avoid like the plague anyone who asks for payment up front.  This raises serious questions about the person's cashflow and business ethics.

Make sure that the contractors have their own public liability insurance and ask to see a copy of the policy schedule if you think it is required.  Also discuss whether or not there are any guantees or warranties on the work they do.

Go online and do some research.  Google the tradesmen or his company and visit one of the many forums on the internet.  Check out or websites which both hold details of tradespeople.



Checkatrade helps combat the UK's rogue trader problem by continuously vetting and monitoring local traders such as builders, plumbers and electricians. The idea was born in 1998 after a tornado hit the small West Sussex town of Selsey. Traders poured in from as far away as Liverpool and Manchester. Unfortunately, some ripped off the inhabitants of the town. Local businessman, Kevin Byrne, realised there was nowhere to check out the traders’ credentials and the company that became Checkatrade was formed.

Since then, Checkatrade has grown to include over 6,300 genuine trade members, growing by an average 120 new members every month, and, via the Royal Mail, distributes 5.9 million directories a year into communities throughout Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Dorset and Berkshire, while the website includes traders from across the UK.


PR / Marketing, Checkatrade
5 - 6 Sherrington Mews, Ellis Square, Selsey, West Sussex, PO20 0FJ
Tel: 01243 601234
Fax: 01243 601246