Consumer: ‘Cowboy builder’ fears leading to delayed work

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Homeowners are delaying essential maintenance and repair work - or even doing it themselves - because they cannot find builders and other tradesmen they can trust, according to a survey.

Finding trusted tradesmen has become such a problem that the region’s housing stock could be in a state of disrepair, the Homeowner Survey from the HomeOwners Alliance and TrustMark found.

Six in 10 homeowners said they had difficulty finding a trusted builder to help with repairs or improvements, with one in 10 of these people not doing the work at all, and more than a quarter delaying the project. Four in 10 people just did the repairs or DIY themselves. Meanwhile more than a quarter did only the essential work and almost a third used tradesmen they were uncertain about.

HomeOwners Alliance chief executive Paula Higgins said: “Doing repairs, maintenance or improvements to your home are some of the biggest challenges homeowners face, and they find it far more difficult than it should be to find a reliable builder or tradesman to help them.

“For many it is quite rightly a major cause of concern - we have all watched those TV shows about cowboy builders and how your dream can turn into a nightmare.

“What is particularly worrying is that desperate homeowners are finding it so difficult to find good builders that they resort to delaying work, or simply not doing it all. “The difficulties of getting good builders mean our national housing stock is ending up in a state of disrepair, affecting the lives of millions of householders.”

Liz Male, chairwoman of the TrustMark “find a tradesman” scheme, said: “A nation of homeowners is at the mercy of leaflets through the door or findanyoldbuilder.com websites because they don’t have a network of local tradespeople they can turn to.

“The price we pay are homes lacking TLC, an ever-deteriorating housing stock and the financial burden of £1.9bn a year paying to fix botched jobs by tradesmen who were just not qualified to do the work. This is a ridiculous situation when we know there are so many excellent tradespeople out there who are totally committed to doing quality work and excellent customer service.”

TrustMark’s ‘find a tradesman’ scheme is the only one of its kind which is endorsed by the Government. However there are also other independent services offering online trade recommendation services. Among them is ratedpeople.com, which features ratings from homeowners of tradesmen they have found through the site.

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