You have just bought a new car as part of your two-part life plan.
You’ve been saving for years, researched just about every car on the market and test-driven 16! You plumped for a 4-wheel drive family people carrier. It cost £26,000. It came with free servicing for 4 years and is taxed for a year.
You read and double read all of the paperwork that came with the lease agreement. All you have to do is ensure it against any form of accident, theft etc, for £330 and drive it away.
Fast forward 12 months to Part 2 of your life plan. The car is amazing, it’s just what you wanted and never lets you down. You’re so pleased you took your time and put so much time into the research.
Now you’re ready to add a couple of rooms to your house. You’ve spent £800 on an Architect, £206 on planning permission for your extension and £427.50 to get Building Regulation approval on your plans.
You call 3 Builders. Two of them you found in the local paper, and one whose card you picked up from the local shop notice board.
One by one they come round and you show them what you want. They are all nice guys. Number two, Jack, stands out though. What a lovely guy! He nearly made you cry when he told you about the nurse’s hostel he’d just finished building and how happy he was to be doing something to help our amazing care workers. And he wasn’t VAT registered so you save 20%! He got the job.
You spent the week sorting out cash to save yourself money and he came round on Friday day for his £10,000 deposit. He said he would start the following Monday. The plan was beginning to come together.
Then it all started to unravel. The guys arrived on day one and the van driver knocked the gate post over. That wasn’t too bad as accidents happen, and they said they’d rebuild it at the end.
Then the skip turned up. You hadn’t even thought about a skip and now it’s in the drive, the car has to be parked on the road. How long did Jack say this was all going to last? You wished you’d asked a few more questions.
You just had time to say hello and “Help yourself to tea or coffee” before you dashed off to work.
Excited to see the results of day one you dashed home. Garage door wide open and kitchen in a mess! Doesn’t look like anything’s been done and no one around. Better call Jack.
No one could have apologised for more. He said he couldn’t pull the garage down as planned because it was still full of stuff. When you told him you had asked that he just dump the stuff in the skip in the note you put in the envelope with the cash, he said he’d not opened the cash yet… Sorry.
When the boys phoned to say the garage was full he told them to get over to the other job and they must have left without closing the garage door. More apologies. Oh well, it’s sorted now. Let’s move on. Jack said it would all be over in 5 weeks Or so.
The next few days go ok and you can see things are progressing but there never seems to be any more than one guy on the job when you get home or leave late to work. Jack says he’s got a couple of jobs on the go and the lads are going backwards and forwards between them to catch up after a couple of dodgy weeks weather. Seems OK. Things will speed up soon.
They don’t though. A couple of times it was obvious that no one had been at all and it’s really hard to get hold of Jack these days.
After a couple of weeks, the garage is down but very little else has happened. You arrange a meeting with Jack which he cancels at the last minute but eventually (3 days later) he arrives looking like he’s seen a ghost.
During these three days you’ve voiced your concerns to your friends, obviously in a light-hearted way as there’s nothing to worry about, but none the less you wanted to get his opinion because there’s just that little nag.
Turns out Jack’s crashed his van and it’s written off. He’s had to buy another one and it’s left him short on the money he needs for the materials. Could you advance the next payment, please?
Alarm Bells are ringing now. What to do? Sorry, Jack, I wasn’t expecting to pay any more until we had laid the floor slab and by the look of it that’s still some way down the road and I have to give the bank notice of a large withdrawal.
He gets chesty, you get a bit scared. You suggest you go down to the merchants and pay the material balance yourself. He says they won’t accept your money because it’s his account, he needs to pay it himself. Something isn’t right, something is very wrong.
We can only hope this has never happened to you. The fact is however, it has happened, and is still happening, to 100,000 people per year (consumer rights expert .co.uk).
The good news is that finding out your Builder is a cowboy need never happen and working with any builder on any large job, without a contract, is madness.
Your home is so, so valuable and yet, as we can see from the true story (or part of it) above, we put more effort into finding the right car than we do the right Builder. Where do you start? Well DIY Doctor of course!
We have worked for a great many years on providing a solution to the cowboy problem. We have now published a White Paper on how this solution can work for you. The White Paper can be used with our contract – The Desired Outcome Building Contract – and these two documents together will keep you safe.
For added security, you can look for Tradesmen on the DIY Doctor Find a Tradesman Page and before your Builders come round for an interview you can get some idea of the rough price of the work you want from our Price Doctor.
Your home is your castle but without the proper defence, it is surprisingly easy how these clever rogues can breach your defences. If you are having any work done and you’re a bit short on time, please, at the very least read the: