Cowboy Builders

Who are Cowboy Builders, and How to Avoid Them

 What are Cowboy Builders?  Why do we want to avoid them?  Are they honestly that big of a deal?  Well, to be honest, yes they ARE that big of a deal.  Cowboy builders need to be avoided for several reasons.  They are the Bain of the construction industry.  These rogue traders are out there for only one thing, your money.  They hassle you during the worst time, when you need help from people.  It's hard not to trust them; they seem so nice and polite.  They seem to only want you to pay them in cash; sometimes they even offer you a big discount for cash.  This is the number one warning sign of a Cowboy Builder.  Some other warning signs you will notice is the reluctance to mention a business name, or give a phone number that isn't a mobile phone.  If you notice them overemphasizing their own faults to promote trust, avoiding their own business name, or not wanting you to write a check to anyone besides their own name, these are all red flags of Cowboy Builders.

It's easy to trust people who come in with fancy slang and all the technical knowledge that make you feel safe and warm inside your bed at night.  But these people are not to be trusted.  As I said before, they are only out for your money, and this is the number 1 reason to stay away from these cretins.  They will tell you that a contract is not necessary, that they really like your business and what you do there, they may even offer you a bonus discount for paying them up front that day.  DO NOT FALL FOR THIS!  This is an obvious scam.  They will more than likely take your money, and either you will never see them again, or when you do get your work done through them, they will keep finding reasons that they have to charge extra.

Avoiding Cowboy Builders

Here are some things to remember when avoiding "Cowboy Builders":  Make sure you get referrals from family and friends.  Ask them for previous history, you need proof of their skills.  Most Cowboy builders will get defensive or reluctant to show you what they've done before, however any legitimate business is going to want your employment, and be more than happy to show you their previous jobs, and credentials.  You should always ask for 2-3 references from the contractors.  This is just another way to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.  You should also be aware that cowboy builders will not want you to know anything about them aside from a contact phone number, which is usually a cell phone.  Be very wary when only one contact number is given.  Always check for the contractors in the phone book, if they are not in it, ask them why, legitimate businesses will always want customers to be able to contact them.

You should always ask about guarantees!  Especially on the bigger jobs, because you are going to have to pay more money for them!  If they don't provide a guarantee on their work, then they don't care about you, or their reputation.  What happens if they do shoddy craftsmanship, then you are stuck out in the cold with another bill to fix what you could have avoided in the first place and more than likely a veterinarian bill from kicking your cat out of frustration!  You need to make sure when you make an investment that you make the right one.  This is very important!  It cannot be stressed enough that this is very, very important.  If you are stuck with a bad job on your hands, people who see it are going to wonder why you did not do as much studying on yourself as you say you are doing for them.  Everything has its consequences, and accepting shoddy craftsmanship is unacceptable in business.

Always remember that you get what you pay for, so just because something is cheap, does not mean it is always the same thing.  As a business owner, you should know these things; you need to be just as wary going through these contractors as you do going to the mechanic, or even buying a home.  Dishonest people are everywhere and you have to be on the lookout for them.

Things to Avoid with Builders

There are some things you need to make sure you avoid.  Do not do cash only jobs.  If you can't avoid a cash only job, try to find someone else, if you can't, make sure you obtain a receipt.  Make sure you do not pay for your work in full until it is completed to your specifications.  If someone mentions you can trust me, you probably cannot trust them.  Unfortunately it's not only the builders who are cowboys, architectures can be similar.  Make sure you get the exact times they will be done. If they are off by any time frame at all, then make sure you get a written contract stating your terms.  If someone does not agree to your terms, and they do not suggest a reasonable time frame or money offer, you should tell them no.  Do not be afraid to get what you want.  This is the most important factor in owning and running a business. You are supposed to be getting exactly what you want.  If you don't, then you are not being fair to yourself, your customers, or anyone around you.

So just to go over it again, you need to make sure you get a signed contract!  You need to be sure of the company name, and if at all possible, get a business card.  Ask for more than just one phone number, be curious!  Remember curiosity did not kill the businessman, it killed the cat.  Are you a cat?  Are you a mouse?  No!  You are a man (or woman) and you need to get exactly what you want and what you deserve.  These people are out for money, and you are looking for services that are the best that you can get!  So do exactly what you were made to do, go out and get what you deserve!

"What everyone needs who has been ripped off, is to be able to report their experiences online and NAME the builder. All builders should be licensed . Courts are a waste of time Cowboys know how to' play 'them."

D Elliott

"Well what I'm finding difficult is to get a really good written quote from my builder. He comes up with global sums and doesn't give break-down of details. I need to see where my money is going......even when I go back to him again, I still don't really get what I've asked for. I know he's very busy, but when I point out to him I believe there is already a lintel over a door he's quoted for - he comes back and says the quote stands as he believes he's underestimated on lintels. Unfortunately for me I am rennovating my house whilst I am temporarily located in France so am having to rely on him. So it seems doubly important that I get a really good estimate with all details. It's no good my going back to him later when he can say, oh! well that wasn't on my estimate. I'm not saying he's out to cheat me, but for peace of mind I think the customer should be able to see where every penny is going. "

Ann Parkhouse