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Stop the cowboysStop the cowboysAvoiding cowboys

A cowboy builder can ruin your home improvement projects as well as leave you miserable and out of pocket. Find out how to avoid those rogue traders here.




Complaints of rogue traders are at a record-breaking high, says the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Over the last year more than 4,000 people complained of cowboy contractors, a yearly increase of 18%, they report.


Not only does this leave customers with shoddy and potentially dangerous home improvement work, it also leaves them out of pocket.


According to the OFT, an estimated £8 million is lost each year to rogue traders, those living in London lose on average the most - over £1,000.


The most popular home improvement scams tend to involve roofing work, driveway laying and cavity wall insulation – says the OFT. Schemes include cowboys offering to install new roof tiles, when they actually only repaint existing tiles. By the time the homeowner finds out, they've paid up and it’s too late.


The OFT have launched a scheme to try and make homeowners aware of how rogue traders operate called: ‘Your doorstep, your decision’. Here are some of their top tips for avoiding cowboy tradesmen.

Tips for avoiding cowboy tradesmen

  • Check that the contractor’s ID has a Direct Selling Association or OFT Approved logo on it.
  • Get agreements in writing, that way, by law you are entitled to a seven day ‘cooling off’ period, whereby you can  cancel the contract in writing. If the contractor doesn't inform you of this fact, then they cannot hold you to any contract.
  • Don’t buy on the spot - shop around and consider your options first.
  • Avoid hiring door to door home improvement tradesmen.
  • Do not agree to pay any money up front.
  • Inform the OFT if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to a cowboy home improvement contractor


Cumbria Handyman Services will never ask you for payments in advance, other than for materials.