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Builder's Scams

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 19 Jun 2024 | comments*Discuss
Cowboy Builder Building Scam Fmb Trading

You hear about it, you see it on television - people who employ cowboy builders to work on their house and end up with a botched or uncompleted job that costs far more than they imagined, and which then takes thousands more to correct. But with some care you can avoid the nightmare of the cowboys in your house. It's worth remembering that 100,000 complaints are made every year in the U.K. against rogue builders.

How They Work

One common approach of the cowboy is to knock on your door, say he's "working in the area" and that your roof, drive (or something else) needs work. Without a thorough look he offers a low quote, and perhaps says he has material left over from another job that he can use. His vehicle will look unprofessional, he won't offer a specific schedule for the work. His only phone number will be a mobile, and he'll ask for payment before he begins - in cash, to avoid paying VAT.

If it's a big job, such as an extension, you might find that the work goes on and on, with each invoice sucking more from your bank account without much visible progress. By the time he leaves - or you finally give up - your house will probably look like a wreck.

How To Avoid Cowboy Builders

  • Begin with a work specification. It can be anything from brief notes to architect's plans. Make certain your notes include who's responsible for removing all rubbish and making good after the work.
  • Get recommendations from family and friends, or your architect (if you used one).
  • Obtain at least three quotes (if it's on your mortgage, the lender will insist on three). Make sure each builder has a copy of your work specification and actually visits the site, and that their quotes cover the same things (site clearance, material supply, etc.)
  • If one quote differs greatly from the others, discover why. There may be a legitimate reason for it, but investigate.
  • Are they members of the Federation of Master Builders? Not being members doesn't make them disreputable, but membership adds a level of security.
  • Are they registered with Trustmark? It's a government plan to help consumers find reliable tradespeople.
  • Ask for several references in your area. Visit them, look at the work done, and ask about the experiences people had with the builder.
  • Discuss payment. For most jobs, builders will require payment at varying stages of the work. Establish how much, when, and what the payments cover.
  • Find out if the builder works on a "labour only" basis, i.e., you supply the materials. This is perfectly legitimate, but means you'll receive two quotes, one for materials, the other for labour.
  • Check their insurance. It should be full public liability insurance, covering not only injuries to workmen, but also householders and guests, passers-by and property.
  • For larger jobs, determine what guarantees the builder offers. If it's a new house, for example, it should be an NHBC warranty.
  • Make sure there's a time scale for the work, including a completion date. But also be aware that outside factors, like weather, could affect that.
  • Don't be afraid to let personal feelings enter into your judgment. If for some reason you simply don't like a particular builder, don't use him. After all, he'll be in your house for quite a while.
  • Before any work begins, draw up a written agreement with the builder, covering all the major points, and include a 'retention,' meaning that the final payment occurs a month after completion, allowing you to discover any defects, and giving the builder the incentive to correct them.

What To Do If You're A Victim

In the event of a problem with a builder, you should initially try to resolve the problem between the two of you. In the event that doesn't work, there are steps you can take:

You can take the builder to County Court. If the amount is under £5000, it's a small claim, and can be dealt with quickly.

Report the builder to Dept of Trading Standards . There has been talk that they, along with the Federation of Master Builders, will publish a "name and shame" list of cowboy tradesmen.

If your builder is a real cowboy, he might have already left the area, and finding him to take to court could be extremely difficult. Even if you obtain a County Court judgment, you can only get your money back if the builder has it. It's worth remembering, too, that it takes no special qualifications or certificates to be a builder. Legally, anyone can call himself a builder and charge for his work.

Your home is, quite rightly, your castle. The simplest way to avoid problems with it is to take time in the beginning and find the right contractor. A low quote might seem attractive, but you could be buying yourself trouble.

  • Get quotes.
  • Do your research on the builder.
  • Never pay anything in advance.
  • Don't do business with anyone who's "just in the area."

Trying to Find a Reputable Tradesman?

If you're looking for more advice on how to find a reputable trades person, why not take a look at Finding a Reputable Tradesman on the www.saferhouses.co.uk website.

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I was given a full quote by a builder located in Liverpool. He is called Gary Jones of Jones Design and build, 182 Fairclough Road Huyton Liverpool 36 3UT.His partner/ right hand man is John moorcroft, 15 Stanley Crescent Prescot Liverpool 34. Neither of the 2 men live at these addresses apparently. I was introduced to these by the grave/ headstone cleaner, Adam Bennett. It's all been a big con. They have started the work, taken my money by lying to me about supplies. Said I had to fund this as the Jones had been robbed and could no longer fund it......he didn't fund it, I paid for everything, he funded nothing. They built a pointless, windowless, leaking shelter on the back of the house that cannot be used nor improved as they stole the money. Action fraud did nothing. Trading standards did nothing. The police did nothing. Citizens advice did nothing.75.000 is gone to these scammers and they have walked away saying that they had underquoted me. Lying, conning fraudsters. Also, when they closed down, 5 days after starting this work, they said nothing and continued to scam the money our of me AFTER they had closed down. Following this, they set up in a new name. My money went into a personal account, not a business account. What can I do?
Goldie - 19-Jun-24 @ 12:44 PM
Marble Building Improvements. Like others, I too was scammed by Mr. Charlie Russell Crispin and Louize Giles, located at 50 Wakering Road, Barking IG11 8GN. The fraudulent activity occurred between August 16th and August 30th, 2023, costing me £8450. Additionally, there's been £5000 worth of damage to my home including a newly rendered wall, shower door, and brand-new bathroom fixtures etc. The current state of my house renders it uninhabitable, leaving my family and me in a state of utter devastation. I feel compelled to share this experience publicly to prevent others from enduring a similar ordeal.
Lorraine - 20-Dec-23 @ 2:35 PM
FG please contact me shohid50@hotmail.cm
Shah - 16-Oct-23 @ 6:52 PM
It would be great to hear from others that have been ripped off by Charlie Crispin at Marble Building Improvements. Has anyone tried to take him to court? It won't let me post an email here so trying this: a t l e n n o n 6 at g m a i l . c o m
FG - 15-Oct-23 @ 8:57 PM
Marble Building Improvements Ltd Flat 501 50 Wakering Road, Barking, IG11 8GN Charlie and louiza are cons. Their builders left our property in a bad statepaid a lot of money to them. We then had to pay more then double to another builder to fix the damage left behind by them. The little work done was extremely poor quality and unsafe.
Zx - 12-Oct-23 @ 9:12 PM
I was also ripped out by Marble Building Improvements in Barking. It would be great to hear from others that have to - I can see a few on this thread. I'm taking them to court.
FG - 6-Oct-23 @ 2:57 PM
I got marble home improvements Ltd started work on my loft conversion in August 2023 then in 6th September 2023 they have left unfinished work and run with my money £38000. All was bank transfer now Not responding to my calls or text did little work and kept asking for money almost every week even though the work was not done! Putting pressure on me to pay otherwise work can not be completed now I have to get another builder to finish my unfinished work costing me extra £22k . Where it should have cost me £20-25k now it’s costing me three times more! Anyone managed to get their money back from the bank? Would appreciate if anyone came share their experience
Shah - 4-Oct-23 @ 9:05 PM
Lords builders and developers have taken 25000 from us for a first floor extension & roof but unfortunately they wrecked the place and left! The builder was recommended by family friends I’m now wondering if they were part of the scam! He has several jobs ongoing in the London south east area.
Sally 74 - 3-Oct-23 @ 6:26 PM
got scammed by marble building improvements they are shocking, they kept doing half jobs and kept asking for the next payment
ali - 14-Jul-23 @ 9:05 PM
@brunette 77 Hi yes we have dealt with marble building improvements and they have literally robbed me and gone. Can you share your experience with me?
Mary14 - 10-Jul-23 @ 8:33 PM
Has anyone had dealings with a company called marble building improvements ltd?
Brunette777 - 16-Jun-23 @ 7:51 PM
Balak Nath of southhall created a dreadful driveway, uneven, too high, now crumbling. AVOID HIM LIKE THE PLAGUE
Min - 27-May-23 @ 12:23 PM
I used a builder accredited by the federation of master builders and trustmark. I have now lived for 18 months in a house with no kitchen, an unsafe damaged boiler-so no proper heating or hot water for two whole winters, that doesn’t comply with building regs, a filthy mess and stuff left everywhere, huge piles of unsanitary rubbish outside, unstraight walls with rippling and trowel marks everywhere, and an independent inspection report shows a record number of issues with not a single thing done correctly.It summarises the work hasn’t been done to professional standards and all needs redoing. The rectification costs way exceed the original works.I am a vulnerable customer with a disability which makes me an easy target.I used this builder due to their accreditations, and have been left totally broke with no hope of ever paying the repair costs, stuck in an unsafe filthy cold environment without a kitchen. Solicitors advised there’s no money in the builders accounts so not to waste money taking them to court. No one regulates or monitors these schemes that are supposed to protect consumers, especially vulnerable ones who trust and rely on them.They haven’t provided me any evidence of any the so called thorough vetting they did to approve this builder or their insurance details.
Scammedbyaccreditedb - 23-Apr-23 @ 7:00 AM
I would NOT recommend MJS Renovations (117 dartford rd de1 3en This mob knocked on door going on a about roof We did have a dropped gutter after agreeing a price for this once job after starting the cost spiralled to a cost of £12.000 They gave a 10year guarantee which you should use a toilet paper Because after 3 months the shoddy cement the slapped on roofline started to fall off after contacting them they totally ignored calls emails and recorded letter citizen advice where no help at all Use this mob at your peril.
Ripped off - 27-Feb-23 @ 12:52 PM
Birmingham - M.Badi Building Construction Ltd Romanian builders well fraudsters do not touch them with a barge pole - will pressure you into signing a contract (useless) so thy can fleece you! Is there a word to describe shoddy and substandard work at its worse! Doubt they ever partially completed or completed any job Take your money no intention finishing NO skills no brains no reliability just dumb con artists!!!
H8Cowboys - 30-Jan-23 @ 11:58 PM
Don’t use SM home improvements and gardening from Leeds, this is a scammer from Bark, I posted job to Bark and one man name Peter text me and want to get me a quote. After everything deal, he start work. He asked for deposit for stone purchase after 1st day work. But never see him again after payment made. I don’t know is Peter is the real name but account name is “S p Maughan” Be careful of this guy.
Handary 19 - 7-Nov-22 @ 10:31 PM
Guy called james from kilmarnock. Said he worked with jm roofing and stone specialist. Dont give him work. Poorly fitted gutters and ignoring all calls to come back. Total fraud !!!
Jinty - 9-Jun-22 @ 11:52 AM
Don’t fall foul of Arren Safavi from Lancashire decking. He looks and acts all professional however once the deposit is paid that’s him doing a runner. He claims he is from the Preston area but with the BS that comes out oh his mouth I wouldn’t believe it
Samh1979 - 22-Apr-22 @ 8:14 AM
We have been scammed by James Hookey & Libby Hookey... advertised for a roofer on fb, Libby contacted me to say James can help... he came quoted, we were more than happy.... he started quickly cause he had time off work,came on Saturday, got started, couldn't see much progress on the Sunday. Got message Mondaymorning to say his car was out of mot.... finally turned up at 1pm.... turned up Tuesday, then vanished, went to minor injuries to get a blister dressed, got message to say, he couldn't come back until blister had healed..... but he took all his tools, all our materials..... I've told him I want all our paid for materials & money back to get it all rectified
snobbs - 6-Jul-21 @ 6:01 PM
Don't use Martin Jacques from swift cavity clear or swift building services based in Manchester.He did a awful job of my garden and charged thousands.
Sam - 1-Jun-21 @ 8:24 PM
I have been scammed by a man called James hookey, and his wife Libby hookey, from face book, asking for recommendation, for patio, The wife sends a message telling you my husband will help you, from that moment onwards the scam starts, he will leave you with work unfinished, work so badly done the whole lot has to be ripped up , Its very cleverly done,and since I posted a warning on face book i have has 5 others come forward all of us have reported this to police who say its a civil issue,banks , trading standards rouge traders, cow boy builders, Trading standards is the best bet, you will getrefs off banks police and trading standards, HMRC, also report ,I have also had to get in touch with police regarding harassment fro the Hookey’s,
Scallywaggle - 5-Apr-21 @ 11:52 AM
DNF Builder and Plastering, based in North East (Newcastle/Gateshead/South Shields/Sunderland), run by David (Mancunian) and Ian. ***Do not employ*** Irresponsible builder/plasterer, no respect for your property, very eager to start but once started, even if you beg and he promised still never show up. always find excuses for poor job and no show. didnt even finish his poorly done half job.
d.a.smith - 28-Feb-21 @ 9:06 PM
Be aware of the company called Nikasa Build & Design. We made a big mistake in trusting them and giving them thousands of pounds in advance for a large extension. All they did was to demolish our house and built a few walls and left, leaving the house without even a roof. When they approach us they said they are part of a big company called NN & SS and when they left they changed the company name to Quick and Unique Services which has no money in it. The cowboy's name is Shahriar Karimnejad who has an alias of Sean Nejad. His big boss isArash Nassouri which we found out has criminal records and been to prison for money laundering and immigration charges. They also falsely claim they are certified by variety of organisations such as RIBA, SafeGas, NicEic and FMB. Stay away from Nikasa.
nikasavictim - 25-Aug-20 @ 12:11 AM
Northumberland Trading Standards and Northumbria Police failed to take any action against a builder who was preying on elderly and vulnerable people. Indeed Northumberland County Council went out of there way to discredit anyone who complained and to protect a builder who had 24 complaints against him and who had taken deposits without doing work and who had his companies work condemned by building inspectors numerous times. Northumbria Police were equally disgusting and I would think twice before investing in this corrupt area with it's disgusting police force and County Council, with particualar reference to the former Chief Executive and the Trading Standards Department, which is as economical with the truth as the builder in question.
Jack Jones - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:55 AM
George Michael, Jorghe Mihai, Romanian builder based in slough, London. Might claim to be Spanish. An evil person, with his friend Alexander, have no problem being aggressive and lies and cheats like second nature. Avoid!
Mister - 10-Jul-17 @ 8:42 AM
Re: Northumberland Trading Standards Northumberland Trading Standards are in my honest opinion the worst organisation I have ever come across, they actually claim that it's not in the public interest to prosecute Rogue Builders who commit serious fraud in relation to elderly and vulnerable people, despite there being numerous cases (in to double figures and most with Building Inspectors Reports or CCJ's) and allegedly as many as 24 complaints. According to FOI requests Northumberland Trading Standards had one prosecution in five years for £100 at the Magistrates, and may as well not exist. They will try and hide behind the morally bankrupt LGO, and the limited powers of other organisations, but their own incompetence and ineptitude is plain to see, as is that of their management. They even accuse the very people who are the victims of crime of wrong doing and collect pointless data which they will keep about you for at least six years including medical data and personal sensitive data and hide behind the fact they can collect data under their remit, so be extremely careful what you tell them as it will inevitable end up on their records, indeed a lot of the records they kept on us were not even correct and was also very trivial and were used to discredit us, and we were the victims of fraud. Northumberland Trading Standards constantly harp on about their limited powers despite taking cases directed to the police by a concerned MP back in to their fold, in order to take no action. Our only regret is letting Northumberland Trading Standards on to our property in the first place.
Mason - 8-Mar-17 @ 11:38 AM
I have gone to small claims court about abbey roofing damp proof contracters this man does not own his house been to land registry don't know his bank account details so sent bailiffs in he wants stopping he will keep on doing it. Also not down that he lives there went to county hall he should get fined for not filling form in. Also reported him to tax manas above man who is four thousand out of pocket report him and take him to court.
kamathy - 6-Oct-15 @ 7:47 PM
As per the comments above from 'kamathy'-do not use Abbey Roofing & Damp Proofing of Spawd Bone Lane, Knottingley. The owner John Varey is a con man! We had a leaking roof and had the entire roof replaced as he stated it was looking worse for wear. Nearly £4000 later and the roof is still leaking! He has skimped on materials and the work is substandard to say the least-and that statement comes from our House Insurance company who sent an expert builder round to assess our roof. We have attempted to contact him on many occasions but he refuses to answer our calls or respond to the many voicemails we have left for him. Be warned, he comes across as friendly and helpful but will rip you off as soon as look at you. We are taking legal steps to recoup the money we paid to him, and i'm hoping we can stop him doing this to any one else by stating our experience here.
JPMAN - 30-Jul-15 @ 9:11 PM
Abbey roofing and damp proof contracters of spawd bone lane knottingley west yorkshire. Dont have this man at any costs he started to build small extension paid money up front no foundations just done breeze blocks no knowledge of building work whatsoever. Left me with a mess to have to pull down and pay someone decent who has started to build it right and hasnt even asked for no money. He is liar said he had informed building inspector hasnt clue how to build left me with no drain He walked away with 3,000 pounds i know where he lives asked for my money back he said no. Was going to take it to small claims court but has he any money as if not will end up with nothing and more expense. Avoid him at all costs john varey of abbey roofing and damp proof contracter 33 spawd bone lane knottingley west yorkshire.
kamathy - 21-May-15 @ 11:20 PM
My builder (if you want to call him that, took a whopping £26000 from me to build aconservatory (that ended up as a botched extension with very very bad building work) and a garage. I have been told that both will now have to come down and be rebuilt. I took out a loan to cater for this as I wanted to used my savings to redecorate the remainder of the house. It took this man 7 months to rob me and leave my house in a dangerous state. Once he had all of the money he asked for more, stating that he quoted me wrongly and he needed £11,000 more to complete the job. Nothing was complete. he would start one thing, leave it half done and then start another. That way he expected me to give him more money to complete. I am so angry but I cannot take him to court, because I know that he hasn'tany money. I would be spending more of my own money trying to get money back from someone who does not have it. I will not be satisfied until he held accountable for what he has done. I am a Christian but as yet I do not have the Christ like qualities as I cannot forget or forgive what this man has done. He has made my life a loving hell. My house is in turmoil because of this. Everyone that I have had around to look at the property to see if it can be salvaged have stated that it is so bad and I should take care, because it will eventually fall down; my only option would be to tear them down and start again. OLIVER BLACKMAN is his name living in London, Harlesden. He is a liar and a thief. Keep away from him. The horrible thing is that he was recommended by a member of my family, who afterward stated that he would not let him touch anything in his own house, but yet he recommended him to me and as rumour has it, is still on friendly terms with this man after what he has done to me. OLIVER BLACKMAN aka LAWRENCE BLACKMAN - keep well away from the nasty beast. 103A High Street Harlesden, London. He will steal your hard earned money.
Vexedtodacore - 4-Apr-15 @ 11:20 AM
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Latest Comments
  • Goldie
    Re: Builder's Scams
    I was given a full quote by a builder located in Liverpool. He is called Gary Jones of Jones Design and build, 182 Fairclough Road Huyton Liverpool…
    19 June 2024
  • Lorraine
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Marble Building Improvements. Like others, I too was scammed by Mr. Charlie Russell Crispin and Louize Giles, located at 50 Wakering Road, Barking…
    20 December 2023
  • Shah
    Re: Builder's Scams
    FG please contact me shohid50@hotmail.cm
    16 October 2023
  • Shah
    Re: Builder's Scams
    I got marble home improvements Ltd started work on my loft conversion in August 2023 then in 6th September 2023 they have left unfinished work and…
    4 October 2023
  • Sally 74
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Lords builders and developers have taken 25000 from us for a first floor extension & roof but unfortunately they wrecked the place and left! The…
    3 October 2023
  • Ffoxxey
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Another number for the same scam - 02045 869992
    17 July 2023
  • ali
    Re: Builder's Scams
    got scammed by marble building improvements they are shocking, they kept doing half jobs and kept asking for the next payment
    14 July 2023
  • Mary14
    Re: Builder's Scams
    @brunette 77 Hi yes we have dealt with marble building improvements and they have literally robbed me and gone. Can you share your experience with…
    10 July 2023
  • Brunette777
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Has anyone had dealings with a company called marble building improvements ltd?
    16 June 2023
  • Min
    Re: Builder's Scams
    Balak Nath of southhall created a dreadful driveway, uneven, too high, now crumbling. AVOID HIM LIKE THE PLAGUE
    27 May 2023