Accidentally inviting a cowboy builder into your home to wreak havoc and disappear with your money is everyones worst nightmare, as is buying a product or service and discovering you've not got anything near the quality you paid for. We all hope it won't happen to us, but research from 2015 revealed that four out of ten British people had had a bad experience with rogue tradesmen, while one out of ten has been completely conned.
Protect yourself using smart tech
Most tradespeople are trustworthy, hardworking and very skilled at what they do. However, you can protect yourself from those that aren't, giving you peace of mind if you're nervous about getting the builders in. The key is to use technology to gather evidence of what was agreed upon and what work was done.
- Spy cameras. A surveillance camera installed somewhere discreet and out of sight but in the area where the work is being done gives you a great way to keep an eye on the work if you cant be in the room. Also, the footage can be used as evidence in case something goes wrong. You'll have hard visual evidence of what happened, which may contradict whatever the rogue tradesperson says. Spy cameras can be very discreet, some disguised as air fresheners, smoke detectors and other household items, so theres no worry about the camera being detected and upsetting your builder.
- Call recording. Building work is often agreed upon over the phone in quite an informal way. If you cant get the price, description of works and timescale in writing, the next best thing is to record phone conversations with the tradesperson. You may never have to use your recordings, but they could provide very useful evidence in case something goes wrong or theres been a misunderstanding or communication breakdown.
- Prevention is best! As well as keeping a close eye on your builder using smart concealed tech, there are other ways you can protect yourself against rogue tradespeople. It all starts with identifying potential warning signs, such as a tradesperson:
- Being unwilling to put a quote or estimate in writing
- It gives you estimated prices that are significantly lower than others you've received
- Being unwilling to provide references
- Providing no details about their business or giving you inaccurate information about who they work for
- Demands full or even part payment upfront
- Claims to belong to an official trade association when they dont
When hiring anyone to work on your home or business, dont be afraid or intimidated to take your time and check all the details. Ask for references, get everything in writing and only pay in full once you're satisfied with the work and receive a receipt or invoice. If in doubt, steer clear!