Churchill magazine

Protect your home from rogue builders

Updated on: 24 September 2020

Home improvements - builder standing next to van

For your peace of mind when choosing a builder or tradesperson to work in your home, it's important that you can trust them to do a professional job. Generally, most are honest, but it's best to do your checks before, as it could save you thousands in the future.

Here are our tips and advice for protecting your home against rogue traders.

Do your research 

Before agreeing to anything, take a look at all the options available to you and compare at least three cost estimates, this will help you feel in control of the situation and will flag up anything that doesn't seem right.

Ask for references

The best referral is from someone you trust, such as a family member or friend, but make sure that the builder or tradesperson has the right skills and experience to do the job you need. Just because they fitted a friend’s kitchen doesn't mean they can design and build your extension.

Another reliable option is to ask another tradesperson to recommend a contact, for example, maybe your electrician can put you in touch with a plumber? Once you've got someone in mind, find out if they've done work locally so you can see a recently finished a job that's similar to yours. 

Check their qualifications

Unfortunately, it's easy for some tradespeople to say they're a member of an accredited trade body. Check them out by using the links below:

For builders visit the TrustMark-registered scheme or the National Federation of Builders.

If you need gas or boiler work done, the tradesperson must be registered with the industry body GasSafe.

Plumbers should be registered with WaterSafe.

Electricians need to be Part P-approved by either NICEIC, NAPIT or ECA.

Roofers and landscapers don't have a trade body to register with, but they should be able to prove they're health and safety certified.

Check their insurance

It's essential that whoever's doing the work is insured. That way, if materials get stolen, any damage is caused, or work has to be redone, you'll be covered for the extra cost – it's always best to ask for proof of this.

You should also check that the materials and work are guaranteed if something goes wrong after the project has been completed. Again, get proof and check that it's underwritten by an insurance company rather than the company themselves.

Be clear on payment 

Once you have all the information, get a contract agreed so that you're both clear on timescales and expectations. Keep in mind that you should never pay in full upfront. 

The contract should include:

  • How much work is needed

  • A statement confirming the site (your home) will conform to building regulations – legally you may be held responsible if they don't

  • A list of all materials and labour costs

  • A payment schedule (if it's a big project)

  • The final price, including VAT

  • Details on who's responsible for cleaning up after the work has been completed

  • A written agreement stating that any small imperfections will be fixed after the job's finished

Emergency jobs

If you need a tradesperson in a hurry and can only do checks over the phone, don't forget to ask:

  • What the call-out charge and hourly rate will be (including VAT)

  • If they will have spare parts and materials in their van. If not, will you be charged for extra time and materials if they have to go and buy the missing items?

  • For an estimate of how long the job will take and how much it will cost

  • What insurance the company has, along with any other warranty and guarantees they can offer you

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