Monday 19 March 2007

Cowboy builders

Love this post from our Epsom franchisee, Steve Williams, who was himself approached by cowboy builder offering to "repair" his roof. Hilarious. I so wish that had happened to me. I'd have had the guy in, let him look around, quietly flicked on the video camera, spent a while discussing the state of the tiles, called my own voicemail to record the conversation just in case the vid camera didn't work, see if he says something which would actually be a criminal offence, take up a good hour or so of his time, see if he'll offer to "repair" our gas boiler, tempt him with a "mislaid" cubic zirconia earring on the floor of the loo, and the then call our good friends at Trading Standards and /or the cops (depending on whether he went for the earring or not).

My grandparents were the victim of such a scam a few years ago. A "passing builder" offered to fix their soffits etc ("in need of urgent repair"). They did all the right things, got a written quote, confirming what was to be done, total amount wasn't huge and maybe the soffits were in need of a lick of paint. But then it all went horribly wrong. "Builders" started deliberately breaking stuff they were supposed to be fixing, price for the "work" went up every few minutes, grandparents realised they were being fleeced, tried to call a halt, brought out the bit of paper on which was written what was supposed to be done (and for what price) and found that the fraudsters had switched the bit of paper.

They had placed it on the kitchen windowsill (I can imagine in now: "There you go, Mr Tolliday, I'll leave that there, that says exactly what we'll be doing, you've nothing to worry about, it's all there in writing") and then, in the confusion, switched it for a blank piece of paper. Scoundrels. People like that aren't cowboy builders, they are just criminals using "building" to perpetrate their particular brand of fraud.


Anonymous said...

I am a 65 year old disabled woman. I bought a retirement flat in Brighton for £97,000 early this year. There was nothing radically wrong with the flat it was simply “tired” it needed a face lift so I set aside £20,000 to refurbish. I sent the following email to local builders in the yellow pages
“I’m looking for a builder. Completion date for a one bedroom flat I’m buying in ** Street will probably be 17th March.
The flat requires complete refurbishing. It needs rewiring and a new kitchen; the bathroom converted to a new shower (not a wet room) room and fitted wardrobes with drawers in the bedroom. I will apply for a grant for updating the storage heating. Lastly, the flat will also need complete redecorating and blinds fitted to all windows. I am hoping to commence work immediately after completion.
I am retiring to Brighton from Shropshire. My phone number is ****. If you are interested in this job will you please contact me?
I was inundated with builders some of whom had not been invited contacted me and I selected Danny *** who “operated” under the name *** who said he would subcontract to registered and qualified tradesmen where he could not provide the services I needed. His main accreditation was that he could start almost immediately.
*** is a conman who seems to have no building or even tiling skills or experience. The following link shows the skills he fraudulently claims to have possessed
This man is still touting for business. He took me for almost £30,000 and wanted even more money from me. When I came to Brighton I discovered my flat had been vandalised. Following is an extract from the report written by the plumber who is rectifying ***s “work”
Assessment of plumbing work carried out at *** Brighton.
“The basic design of the shower room is impracticable and ill thought out e.g., Connecting a shower waste pipe to a horizontal soil pipe could lead to back flow, resulting in waste from the soil pipe washing up into the shower tray, The copper pipes that have been installed are not secured/clipped into position, Two of the copper pipes which I assume were laid for the intention of connecting to a Wash basin or radiator were actually bent and forced into position down and behind the soil stack with out using pipe benders(bad practice),Where copper pipes are not secured/clipped on installation can and will lead to movement of the of the pipes when in use, resulting in unnecessary noise in the system and also putting strain on any soldered joints causing them to weaken and leak. On inspection of the soldered fittings I noticed dark burnt areas indicating that too much heat had been applied, when solder is over heated/burnt it becomes brittle and the solder seal fails, also where pipe work had been run through a stud wall the wall had not been neatly drilled though but smashed through with a hammer or other blunt tool. The quality of the workmanship on the pipe work laid is so appalling I suggest they be removed and re-laid. As to some of the other pipe work laid out in the shower room, it was not obvious to me on inspection of its intended use? The shower tray had been hacked away to allow for the shower waste and hot and cold feed pipes access, has been cut in an inappropriate position which is unsightly and once again bad practice. The shower cubical was not fixed to the wall and the levelling of the shower tray is slightly out, the shower trap was also loose and not sealed. At the top of the shower cubical the two horizontal struts do not align. Electrical bonding wire from the old appliances are left lying around the floor (these could have been live) once again bad practice. Floor tiles were also unevenly laid and wall tiles were not designed to Mrs *** request.
In addition to the £30,000 purloined by *** I now have to pay another £7,000 for repairs to his vandalisations. He has made me homeless and penniless.

I have a solicitor and together with Trading Standard i am going to take this man to task..

Anonymous said...

A very sad story!

Anonymous said...

Make sure they have liability insrance and a permanent premises before hiring anyone to do work for you. Beware of 'mobile phone' merchants who dont have a permanent landline.

Anonymous said...


simon said...

Rip-off companies are on the increase, so I decided to put a website that allows users to see who is ripping people off in there area. Users can create reviews when they think they have been scammed, the website is if you have a story to tell then let others know, bust the rouge traders!

Please can you post on your webste so as to give a bit of protection to consumers.

MPM247 said...

Unfortunately, although cowboy builders are everywhere you go and in some cases are hard to avoid there is one way to help prevent you from hiring one!

Not only can you look out for the "tell tale" signs but I found this site a great help! :)

Not only did I save on the VAT but all the trades persons on this site have been fully vetted, guaranteeing job satisfaction. Not only that, but the security of this website ensures that property owners will not have to pay any trades person until THEY are fully satisfied! This is through a project pay system!

Hopes this helps guys! - Take a look and sign up for free today! :)

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