There’s an angel and a devil on every business owner’s shoulder.
That harp-playing, halo-wearing angel cares only for the customer as it softly coos in your ear to provide good value for money and never cut corners.
Meanwhile that cigar chomping Satan is shouting in a gravelly voice for you to find as many ways to save cash as possible. Screw the customer, even if they're left out of pocket.
And while the angel is of course correct, the putrid poetry of the devil on your shoulder has the pleasing lull of your favourite tune.
In the building trade, the temptation to leave a client high and dry is more pressing than most. After all, cutting a few corners here and there frees up your time for more clients, and more clients equals a healthy and happy bank balance.
So runs the mind-set of the cowboy builder, and there’s very little stopping these crooks from running roughshod over a property with little to no legal recourse.
License to build
All that could soon change as calls are growing for the Government to introduce a statutory licensing scheme which regulates builders and protects customers seeking redress for poor workmanship.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Barrister Joshua Dubin said, 'This is perhaps one of the important pitfalls for the building industry, because there isn't any scheme which requires people in the construction industry to demonstrate competence and – before they can offer their services – get insurance.'
He continued, ‘With the construction industry you're going to have good builders who want to join the professional bodies, but if you're a sole trader and especially if you're dishonest, you're not going to want to spend the time and money going through that process if you can do the work without having to prove you can do it.’
Such a lack of building regulations is doing more than ripping people off – according to the Telegraph, more and more Brits are delaying home improvements for fear of encountering these hod-hauling shysters.
How to stay honest
If you’re in the building trade and want to stay honest, then the benefits of completing a job and leaving a customer happy are all too clear – if they’re satisfied with your work then they might hire you further down the line.
What’s more, making sure you have the right materials doesn’t have to deplete your funds. Rendering beads from a company like Direct Building Products can cost as little as £2.51 while timber can be relatively uncostly.
Customer service, especially if you’re a sole trader, is another commodity that costs you next to nothing. All you need to be able to do is show up on time, remain polite and get the job done in the timeframe you agreed with your client.
These are titbits that every successful businessperson knows instinctively, and that cowboy builders would do well to keep in mind.
As for any cowboys that might be reading this – let's hope a regulatory body keeps you in check sooner rather than later.
Have you had a dicey experience with a cowboy builder? Then let us know in the comments below.