Working with a cowboy builder can lead to all kinds of problems from extra expense through to unsafe or unfinished work on your home. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from employing an unscrupulous builder to complete your building work.


It is always recommended that you obtain three quotes from tradespeople. If the builder offers you a very cheap quote this should set alarm bells ringing. Caution should also be exercised if the builder won’t put their quote in writing. Sometimes you may find that a price that has been verbally agreed at the start changes as the project goes on and you could end up paying much more than you originally agreed. It is more difficult to do this when you have a written quotation that was agreed and signed by all parties.

Company Information:

It should be fairly easy to find information on the builder that you intend to work with. Be alert to companies that you can’t find any contact information for such as their registered address and contact telephone number. If you can’t find the builder’s contact information online and they are vague and won’t provide it when speaking to them it’s probably best not to work with them.


All good businesses would be only too happy to share their testimonials or provide references if you ask. A builder who is unwilling to share past projects may be reluctant to share them because they have left work unfinished or not completed the job that they were instructed to do.


Some customers like a contract before any building work starts, particularly on large or long term projects. This contract will outline things such as the agreed price and the scope of work. No reputable builder would refuse to sign a contract.


Another sign to look out for is when the builder asks for money before they have even started any work. Even if the builder needs materials, they will budget for this as part of their business cash flow. Never pay a builder until the work is complete. That’s not to say you can’t negotiate a payment schedule as the project progresses.


Your builder may claim that they are a member of a trade organisation such as the Federation of Master Builders. If, after a search, you find they aren’t registered this is a clear sign that they are dishonest and best avoided.

There are lots of websites and free resources that you can use online to find a reputable builder and hopefully, these top tips will prevent you from choosing a cowboy builder for your next building project.