Jason Costner of Saltburn, North Yorkshire was jailed after leaving one pensioner with no water in her bathroom for five months and another with a hole in his roof over Christmas – in the snow.

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The Daily Mail reported yesterday that a rogue trader has been jailed for leaving a trail of destruction and misery in his wake, not to mention the financial pain he inflicted. You can see their full story by clicking on the photo above.

Costner gained the confidence of people by offering his services free or for very little money, and then started to charge large sums of money, before turning abusive and threatening. He even managed to pocket money received from an insurance claim without completing the promised work.

He was arrested for fraud in September 2011, and received an 18 month sentence on Monday.

DIY Doctor wants to eradicate Cowboy Builders

We have been working on various ways to arm yourself against getting caught by Cowboy Builders. We continually update this information as we develop new advice and products to help keep you safe.

On the main website you will see a button ‘HIPS’ which stands for Home Improver Protection Solution. OK so we know that isn’t as catchy as it could be, but the information in there is invaluable if you are having work done on your house. The information is free and so are most of the products. (Where something is not free we clearly say so).

What’s new?

Lots of sites give you advice on avoiding Cowboy Builders, but we also give you some tools to weed them out and help you choose good builders.

The latest addition to the website is a product called Price Doctor. The basic product is Free and takes about five minutes to use.

Price Doctor allows you to find out how much your extension should cost you before you speak to your builder, or if you already have quotes from builders it allows you to check that those quotes are reasonable.

How often have you heard the advice ‘get three quotes and pick the middle one’ but how do you know any of them are right? They might all be too much or,worse, too little.

How can a quote that is too cheap be a problem?

You might think it is great if you get cheap quotes but if the builder gets to your job and realises he hasn’t quoted enough, he will need to find ‘extras’ to charge you, and these can be hefty.

A good and experienced builder will quote you based on his knowledge of similar jobs, and so any extras will be legitimately unforeseen things. (In our building days, we once found an old Morris Minor buried in a garden when the diggers went to dig the foundations for a conservatory. That is a legitimate extra, it could not have been foreseen by anyone!)

Check your quote with Price Doctor before making your decision

If you know your builders quotes are about right you can be sure they are pricing correctly which means they know what they are doing and they are fair about what they charge. This is a good sign!

If your preferred builder has quoted significantly more you can ask him to look at the Price Doctor quote with you, you could even go through the process together. He might have a good reason for being more expensive, but at least it gives you a tool for negotiating with your builder.

Some builders are using our full level of Price Doctor to prepare their building quotes, in the knowledge that Price Doctor provides a clear and transparent quote for the homeowner. The more comprehensive versions of Price Doctor do cost money but for £20 you get increased choices for your build, a ‘shopping list’ of materials and you can also get a professional model which allows you to build in profit margins and trade discounts on materials.

What else do you have that protects me against Cowboy Builders?

We will continue to add to this list as time goes on but these are the main areas to help you avoid cowboy builders so far.

  • Desired Outcome contract
  • Guidance notes for entering into a contract with your builder
  • Advice on using a payment plan
  • Advice on finding a tradesman

Go to DIY Doctors Home Improver Protection Solution section to see all our advice, products and information to help you find a reliable builder and avoid the cowboy.

To try Price Doctor for yourself please click on the banner below, and do let us know how you got on with it.

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One Response to “Another Cowboy Builder story in the news – learn how to protect yourself”

  1. [...] How to Avoid Cowboy Builders. How to find a good builder. Use Price Doctor: part of DIY Doctors' Home Improver Protection Solution to avoid rogue traders and cowboys  [...]

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