ENTERTAINMENT

Battle to defend the British from cowboy builders


Homeowners who have been thrown thousands of pounds out of their pockets by their "cowboy" farmers have revealed the emotional turmoil they experienced at the hands of their designers.

Their accounts come amid growing calls for the government to put in place a legal licensing system that regulates builders and protects customers seeking remedies for poor workmanship.

Claire Paladino, 38, and her husband Leo, 43, from Northamptonshire, wanted to build a two-story extension with a garage on their property in August 2019 when they hired RWMT Building and Landscaping Ltd after seeking multiple bids.

Ms. Paladino, who was pregnant with her fourth child at the time and described her experience as "absolutely horrific," claims she lost the sum of £ 39,000 to a contractor who didn't complete the work, used cheap materials and didn't build it have passed regulations.

Claire Paladino, 38, and her husband, Leo, 43, from Northamptonshire say they were charged extortionate prices for the work that was never completed

The couple say the contractor left litter and trash at the front of his garden and did not complete the planned expansion

The couple say the contractor left litter and trash at the front of his garden and did not complete the planned expansion

The builder assured the couple that they would remove the debris that had been left in their garden, but the couple said it did not

The builder assured the couple that they would remove the debris that had been left in their garden, but the couple said it did not

On August 15, Ms. Paladino met the director of Ross Phillips at the construction retail company Travis Perkins Builders Merchants, where he had begun a major contract for driveway blocks, gates, fence panels, and bricks.

A total bill of £ 10,649.06 was paid direct to Travis Perkins.

Ms. Paladino said, “We met him and he had already started this big brick and plaster job and in hindsight I find he didn't need that stuff there and then but obviously you're excited that you think you are it's if you want to get your house ready you don't really know the logs. & # 39;

Work on the house began on August 19, when the builders demolished the existing garage and carried out earthworks to relocate the terrace. However, Ms Paladino said the contractor handed her another invoice for £ 8,650 for labor costs that same week.

Another invoice followed shortly afterwards on August 21st for £ 3,070.

Ms. Paladino continued, “We were put back in a corner and paid her. When things started slowly we panicked a bit because the incoming bills were inconsistent with the progress we saw and we had several meetings with him.

"Me and my husband started saying we wouldn't pay him until he comes over and we still won't pay him because that's silly, but he would go out of here and we would end up paying him the money .

& # 39; It was really awful. My husband always said that he was very adorable, he told you what to hear.

“Towards the end, when we really realized what was going on, we were pretty low on money. We'd spent so much speaking to independent builders who advised us to play cool and get what you can out of it. & # 39;

During construction, Ms. Paladino described how the construction company's backhoe operator severed her water pipe so that she could not use her washing machine for five months and her garden was filled with water.

On another occasion, the dredger caught a gas pipe next to the house and hit her porch as well – all causing damage.

She was told these issues would be fixed, but she claims they never were.

Ms. Paladino also paid an invoice for roofing materials that were never delivered.

Ms. Paladino says the tiles were not installed properly in her garden

Some of the plates were missing

The company started laying garden patio slabs in September, but Ms. Paladino claims she later discovered that the slabs had not been installed with the correct materials, some slabs were missing and others had been installed without cement or sealing

Ms Paladino says the builder agrees that he will clean up the rubble and general waste left in front of her home but will not return

Ms Paladino says the builder agrees that he will clean up the rubble and general waste left in front of her home but will not return

Ms. Paladino continued: “When I say it was bad, I am not exaggerating. It was awful, but we could live in it, but we ran out of washing machines and had to rely on family. We had a toilet and there are seven of us who live in the house. & # 39;

On September 16, 2019, the company began laying garden terrace slabs. However, Ms. Paladino claims that she later discovered that the panels were not installed using the correct materials.

Some panels were missing, others were laid without cementing or sealing – this caused mold to grow within a short period of time, making them unstable and dangerous.

Ms. Paladino continued through October and November You will receive weekly bills for a range of jobs including £ 1,150 for masonry, £ 2,650 for more masonry and bathroom sanitary ware.

She also received a bill for £ 3,600 for block and joist flooring material – which she believes was never done.

In November, Ms. Paladino and her husband found they were at a dead end and stopped paying for the bills – which they felt was disproportionate to the progress of the work

Ms. Paladino said Mr. Phillips removed the company's equipment from the couple's home and agreed to dispose of the construction waste and general trash dumped outside their home, but it did not.

In December, Building Control visited the property and expressed concerns about the above ground construction, the garage floor appeared to have been concreted to a level equivalent to the level of the house-made floor and said a short drainage run had been concreted without prior inspection by building controls.

After several failed attempts to contact Mr. Phillips, Ms. Paladino suggested spoke extensively with an attorney but could not afford to move the case forward after being told it would cost more than £ 10,000.

She also contacted Trading Standards and learned that the matter was being investigated.

Ms. Paladino added, “I am a realist who I know I need to sort this out and I refuse to let it ruin my life.

“My husband works in food production. He works 12-hour shifts. To keep us afloat, he works 12-hour night shifts as overtime

“And the physical, mental, and emotional impact on my husband has affected me. It was absolutely terrible.

"There is this transition period when you think you are being cheated on, but when you ask people they are like, 'Oh no, don't be silly'.

When we realized we had been ripped off, he signed an agreement with me.

“I was more than generous. I said if he paid me about £ 12,000 I would leave him to go his own way and he agreed to pay me. He agreed that he would pay me £ 6,500 for the next week and £ 200 a month thereafter, but I don't see a penny from him. Not one. & # 39;

Northamptonshire County Council's trade standards have confirmed that they have received a complaint and are still investigating.

Jane Barrett, 54, of Kettering, was another victim by the same builder who said she was "in a nightmare" after spending £ 32,000 on expanding her two-bedroom bungalow last September.

Mrs. Barrett, who lives with Her partner Andy, her daughter and granddaughter, said she paid £ 10,000 upfront for the building materials, but soon the builder saw that extra payments were being made every week.

She said: & # 39; We paid £ 10,000. He said it was about getting the building materials, and he also explained that it was some kind of start-up so he couldn't see anything but the area he was working on.

Jane Barrett (pictured with partner Andy and granddaughter), 54, of Kettering, says she was "in a nightmare" after spending £ 32,000 on the same contractor to expand her two-bedroom bungalow

Jane Barrett (pictured with partner Andy and granddaughter), 54, of Kettering, says she was "in a nightmare" after spending £ 32,000 on the same contractor to expand her two-bedroom bungalow

Ms. Barrett says the contractor left a pile of rubbish and trash in her yard and didn't collect them

Ms. Barrett says the contractor left a pile of rubbish and trash in her yard and didn't collect them

The panels were unsealed and a live wire was attached to a live electrical outlet

Moisture was depicted on the roof

Ms. Barrett says the panels on the roof (left) were unsealed and there was a live wire attached to them. She also noticed moisture seeping through the roof (right)

Waste that was deposited in front of the garden was not collected by the client

Waste that was deposited in front of the garden was not collected by the client

“So we took him at his word and gave him the money, and they started pulling down our garage and the extension we had on the back of the house.

"We paid out sums of money every week, so £ 3,000 here and £ 5,000 there, and it wasn't busy."

In addition to the slow progress, Ms. Barrett said the builders dug the foundations in the wrong place and made them pay an additional £ 3,000 for concrete and charged them for block and joist floors – which were never installed.

During the construction process, Ms. Barrett and her partner also noticed that the roof that had been placed on the extension was too low and the floor inside the extension was a foot lower than the rest of the house.

She said, “We have questioned it and are spending all the time paying the wages. We got to the point where we were almost out of budget and we were still just shelled.

“We were supposed to have skylights in the extension, and when his partner put the roof on, he told my partner that we had agreed not to do that, but we hadn't, so we swallowed that too.

“So we had to keep improvising to keep him cute because we didn't want him to go away and not do it.

It took until November and we were still waiting for the folding doors and windows to go in.

“At that point we had accepted that he wouldn't change the roof, so he came in November to do a few bits and pieces and he told us he used our money to get bits and pieces for other areas because he there was a lot of work to do.

At this point we had given almost all of our money. I think we had about £ 3,000 left from our real budget, but he said to us that when you get the bathrooms I will get everything tiled and put the bathrooms in. We bought bathroom, but he never showed up. & # 39;

With an unfinished lot, Ms. Barrett's partner Andy contacted building control. He said the floor was an unsuitable floor slab and that the roof beams would be 620mm apart if they were 450mm apart.

This meant they weren't strong enough to support the roof.

Ms. Barrett said, “The building controller came in and said the concrete floor was fine, but the roof should come off because it was an accident waiting to happen. He said if you have really bad weather it will collapse. & # 39;

After several attempts to contact the builder, the couple borrowed an additional £ 17,000 to try to complete construction.

The couple say the height in their extension was only seven feet because the roof and concrete floor that was laid was incorrect

The couple say the height in their extension was only seven feet because the roof and concrete floor that was laid was incorrect

The roof was not the correct height and was incomplete so the couple had to borrow extra money to complete it

The roof was not the correct height and was incomplete so the couple had to borrow extra money to complete it

She added, “We couldn't reach him at all so everything had to be put on hold. We borrowed the money to take the roof off and put a new roof back on, and then of course Covid happened, so we're not done yet.

“We had to borrow another £ 17,000 and we're still not done, but mostly because we had to take out everything he did and basically have to do it all over again.

“We have been living in two rooms for over a year now, which has affected my granddaughter, who is now 7, and my daughter. It was a nightmare.

“We know we won't get any of our money that is gone, but the reason I speak out is if it prevents someone from walking the same line as us, then I'll be happy with it.

“I think if people are being prosecuted or have issues with trade standards, they shouldn't be able to just start another business.

"It's been like this for years and nothing has changed, so I'm not the first and I'm sure I won't be the last."

Becci Barker, 40, of Doncaster, spent £ 47,000 working on a two-story addition in November 2018, but the construction "ruined" her family's lives and she had to hire another builder to complete the work.

40-year-old Becci Barker from Doncaster spent £ 47,000 on her construction work

40-year-old Becci Barker from Doncaster spent £ 47,000 on her construction work

After Ms. Barker found a building contractor through the Trust a Trader construction site, Emerald Property Group Llt contacted her and work soon began in February 2019.

Construction started slowly, however, and she continued to encounter a number of labor standard issues, including a failure to complete the work on time and fail to meet her contractual arrangements.

She later found out that the assembly had lost its membership in the Federation of Master Builders.

Ms. Barker said, “I wanted to file a complaint with the Federation of Master Builders to see if there was something they could do and they told me that they had been expelled and couldn't explain why it was for privacy reasons, but they weren't longer members.

Then they knocked through my house in November, which they said would take ten days. I was actually away from home for four months. I had to live with my son with my mother in a one-bedroom council flat. My husband had to live on site and my two dogs had to stay with my stepdaughter. & # 39;

As construction continued, Ms. Barker returned to her house one night to find that a gas leak had occurred on her property.

Cadent came and inspected the leak, telling her that a significant leak had occurred where the gas stove had been removed and explaining that the valve that was still in the line was the wrong type of valve was.

When Ms. Barker confronted her contractor about the leak, she found that the company had not hired a gas-operated plumber.

She continued, “I came in one evening thinking I could smell gas, rang the gas plate, they came out and found that the builders hadn't locked the gas stove. They had used the wrong session and it had been taken out two weeks earlier.

“So I had a gas leak in my house for two weeks. The gas authority condemned it and turned off the gas and reported it to the health and safety officer because of danger to life.

Construction began slowly and Ms. Barker encountered a number of problems. She says the builders laid a floor in their kitchen that wasn't level

Construction began slowly and Ms. Barker encountered a number of problems. She says the builders laid a floor in their kitchen that wasn't level

Ms. Barker says the builders left her very little space to access her garden from the front and that her neighbor kindly gave her the rights to a piece of land so she could have more space

Ms. Barker says the builders left her very little space to access her garden from the front and that her neighbor kindly gave her the rights to a piece of land so she could have more space

Despite assurances that they would be ready by 2019, the kitchen was still in complete condition as of February of this year

Despite assurances that they would be ready by 2019, the kitchen was still in complete condition as of February of this year

Ms. Barker says there was a gaping hole from above and nothing had been put in place to cover the hole

Ms. Barker says there was a gaping hole from above and nothing had been put in place to cover the hole

The builder did not close the radiator cap

Damage to the sockets

Ms. Barker says the manufacturer did not cover the radiator cap (left) and that the sockets were damaged (right)

When I contacted the builders they said they didn't know this was the wrong session as the person they used wasn't one Gassafe engineer.

"I said what do you do when a regular plumber is working on gasoline and he stepped back and said we'll sort this out."

Although Ms. Barker was told in her contract that the work would be completed by May 2019, she said the construction work was still going on at Christmas this year and had put a significant strain on her mental health.

she said: I have a mental health history that the builders knew about. The last straw was when they left me with no kitchen or bathroom for the whole Christmas period and my husband had to keep peeing in a bucket and I was staying with my mother. & # 39;

In December, the gas authorities confirmed that the property had been leaked and classified it as "immediately dangerous".

In December, the gas authorities confirmed that the property had been leaked and classified it as "immediately dangerous".

In February 2020, Ms. Barker contacted an attorney who confirmed that the assembly had breached their contract.

Ms. Barker eventually asked other builders to come in and do the job, and asked Emerald to give her the materials she had paid for.

She added, “My friend ended up paying again for some other builders to come in and finish the job, and I just cried and said I just want my house back.

“I just asked Emerald for the materials and they owe me a hell of a lot more than that, but I just wanted my materials, which were up to £ 3,350, even though it cost me £ 15,000 to repair and get the damage finished and they assured me i would get it.

I sent the receipts to prove what I paid, what they agreed to. Everything was fine and then out of the blue they told me they weren't going to pay me. That the company had gone into liquidation and that I would have to take on the liquidator. & # 39;

Ms. Barker has reported her builders to trade standards and promotional fraud, but she would like to do more to hold rogue traders accountable.

She said, “You shouldn't be allowed to, it's not fair. You are a limited company and you have limited liability and you can just form another company – this is wrong.

'You shouldn't be allowed to trade. You shouldn't be able to start and trade again.

“This is our life that they destroyed. It's not a quick fix. We started in November 2018 and my building is currently waiting to be deregistered two years later. & # 39;

An Emerald spokesman said they had sent an agreement to supply materials to Ms. Barker and sent a contractor to go there. You said that the outstanding money will be paid to Ms. Barker over the next three months.

They have since sent a settlement agreement to Ms. Barker, which she has not signed.

The group said, “We're not going away. We have made a personal settlement agreement. We agreed that she has a contractor. We paid for them and we also paid for materials. There is just over £ 3,000 left to pay for the materials she faced and we agreed with her.

The builders left a massive drop of the back door in their garden behind them because plans Ms. Barker says were inaccurate

The builders left a massive drop of the back door in their garden behind them because plans Ms. Barker says were inaccurate

Although she told her she would only have to be out for ten days, her bathroom was found that way four months later

Although she told her she would only have to be out for ten days, her bathroom was found that way four months later

Ms. Barker says the floor in her son's room has been damaged and does not match

Ms. Barker says the floor in her son's room has been damaged and does not match

Holes in the garden were covered with plywood

Ms. Barker, she waited 8 months for you to deliver a window

The holes in the garden were covered in plywood (left) and Ms. Barker says she had a gaping hole in the side of her house while she was waiting for a window (right).

& # 39; Obviously because of Covid the deal kind of went, but there is a track record of us paying people and making settlements.

“It wasn't a good time for us. We did not move away from what happened. We were in a pretty dire situation. It wasn't a very good time, but we're doing the moral thing. We have also come to terms with two other customers they are happy with.

“We're trying to do the right thing. I understand the frustration, but there were some issues while we were at work too.

“I want to add that she prepaid us. So she prepaid us the full amount and we still got work done, so it doesn't make any sense because if we were what she's trying to brand us then why leave work and do none of it ? Job.

& # 39; We were very honest, very honest. We went the right way, we tried to follow as many procedures as possible but we had no money at the time so we couldn't be satisfied with anyone. & # 39;

He added: 'The Emerald brand that we continued with. We didn't do anything wrong. If we had, why would the company be renamed Emerald again. & # 39;

After tearing down a partition, they left us with a mess that persists even after they move into their home

After tearing down a partition, they left us with a mess that persists even after they move into their home

In the meantime, Gus Digennaro, 51, and Mrs. Barbara Lavarone, 50, of Denton, Greater Manchester, decided to convert their two bedroom bungalow into a single family home by adding an extension when they were in a "nightmare" who tasted them £ 64,000.

A friend recommended a local contractor to the couple in May 2018. The plan was to tear down the garage and convert it into a bedroom, add an extension on the side and a new roof.

In July of this year, the building permit for the new roof was granted and the couple was informed of this by their owner must be increased at least 1.2 meters to the existing roof height.

Mr Digennaro said in October that the new roof was installed but was left until December, causing rain damage to the family's personal belongings.

He finally Tiled the cross itself with the help of a neighbor to make it weatherproof.

Mr. Digennaro said: “In the end, I had to lay the tiles myself and because he didn't put the tiles on. He asked us to move out at this point and obviously all of our personal belongings at the front of the house were damaged and then the problems started. & # 39;

Gus Digennaro (51) und Frau Barbara Lavarone (Bild) (50) aus Denton, Greater Manchester, hatten beschlossen, ihren Bungalow umzubauen, als sie sich in einem „Albtraum“ befanden.

Gus Digennaro (51) und Frau Barbara Lavarone (Bild) (50) aus Denton, Greater Manchester, hatten beschlossen, ihren Bungalow umzubauen, als sie sich in einem „Albtraum“ befanden.

Frustriert über die mangelnden Fortschritte, begann das Paar im November, ihre Zahlung zu verlangsamen und bat einen Architekten, die Dachhöhe zu überprüfen, nachdem die Nachbarn darauf hingewiesen hatten, dass das Dach im Verhältnis zum Haus höher aussah.

Herr Digennaro sagte: „Irgendwann hatten einige meiner Nachbarn bemerkt, dass das Dach im Verhältnis zum Haus höher aussah, und der Bauherr sagte, es sei fünf Zoll über der tatsächlichen Zeichnung, und er sagte, man erlaube Flexibilität. Du hast einen Meter.

„Wir haben im Januar festgestellt, dass das Dach nicht konform ist. Der Rat sagte, wenn wir es nicht abbauen oder ersetzen würden, würden sie es tun. Wir hatten also die Wahl, entweder einen neuen Antrag oder eine neue Baugenehmigung zu beantragen oder zu ändern.

„Also musste ich zur Bank gehen und mir noch etwas Geld ausleihen, um einen anderen Bauunternehmer dazu zu bringen, die Arbeit zu beenden und das Dach zu wechseln, das er falsch angelegt hatte. & # 39;

Frau Lavarone beschrieb, wie der "Cowboy" -Bauer "nie zweimal über die Konsequenzen nachdachte".

Sie sagte: „Wir sind beide sehr verärgert und wütend über das, was mit der Familie passiert ist. Ich hätte nie gedacht, dass eine Person meine Familie in einer Position der Obdachlosigkeit und unseres Hauses in die Nähe von Ruine und Chaos bringen könnte.

"Der Bauunternehmer hat nie zweimal über die Konsequenzen nachgedacht, die eine ganze Familie wenige Tage vor Weihnachten auf der Straße hinterlassen und eine einfache Ausrede finden, um sich selbst die Verantwortung zu nehmen."

Ein im Juni 2019 von Don Waterworth durchgeführter Bericht über Mengenermittler bestätigte später, dass der Bauunternehmer Arbeiten zu einem „entsetzlich schlechten Standard“ ausgeführt hatte, und sagte, das Ehepaar habe leider einen „Cowboy“ -Bauer eingestellt.

Herr Waterworth sagte auch, dass der Bauunternehmer weder ein schriftliches Angebot noch vertragliche Dokumente und Geschäftsbedingungen vorgelegt habe – was einen Verstoß gegen das Consumer Rights Act 2015 darstellt.

Der Bauherr habe das Haus auch in einem „unbewohnbaren Zustand“ verlassen, mit unvollständigen Arbeiten und einem vom Auftragnehmer falsch bestellten Dach, heißt es in dem Bericht weiter.

In seinem Bericht sagte Herr Waterworth: "Dies ist ein schwerwiegender Fehler des Bauunternehmers, der sich als kostspielig erweisen wird."

Er fuhr fort: „Zum Zeitpunkt meiner Anwesenheit war das Grundstück nicht bewohnbar. In der Tat gab es keine Elemente der Arbeit von Herrn Terry Megrim, die als „abgeschlossen“ ausgelegt werden könnten.

Das Dach, das auf das Grundstück gelegt wurde, blieb drei Monate lang stehen und führte zu Regenschäden an den persönlichen Besitztümern der Familie

Das Dach, das auf das Grundstück gelegt wurde, blieb drei Monate lang stehen und führte zu Regenschäden an den persönlichen Besitztümern der Familie

Herr Digennaro sagt, dass das Dach, das der Bauherr lieferte, 40 Grad gegenüber den 30 Grad war, die durch die Planung genehmigt worden waren

Herr Digennaro sagt, dass das Dach, das der Bauherr lieferte, 40 Grad gegenüber den 30 Grad war, die durch die Planung genehmigt worden waren

Ein Bericht des Mengenermittlers bestätigte, dass der Bauunternehmer Arbeiten zu einem „entsetzlich schlechten Standard“ ausgeführt hatte. Im Bild: Ziegelarbeiten des Bauherrn

Ein Bericht des Mengenermittlers bestätigte, dass der Bauunternehmer Arbeiten zu einem „entsetzlich schlechten Standard“ ausgeführt hatte. Im Bild: Ziegelarbeiten des Bauherrn

Ein Bericht eines Mengenermittlers besagte, dass das Paar einen "Cowboy" -Bauer eingestellt hatte

Ein Bericht eines Mengenermittlers besagte, dass das Paar einen "Cowboy" -Bauer eingestellt hatte

„Zum Zeitpunkt meiner Anwesenheit war es offensichtlich, dass der Bauherr eindeutig nicht über die erforderlichen Fähigkeiten, Erfahrungen und Integrität verfügte, um Arbeiten dieser Art auszuführen.

'I would advise that the works completed by mr megrim are no more than the value of £10,000 at best.'

Mr Digennaro added: 'For me that's deception. He continued to maintain the roof height was compliant and we'd paid all the money that we'd originally agreed for the build. So he didn't complete the work as per the contract.

'His company has been dissolved so he can hide behind that company legally without having any recourse against him unless it's classed as a criminal act.'

Trading standards have since dropped the case and explained to the couple they could not identify any criminal evidence to continue the case and said they would have to pursue it as a civil matter.

The accounts come as figures from the Citizen's Advice Bureau showed that in 2020 they received 39,862 complaints about home maintenance and improvement.

In 2019 this figure stood at 46,346 and the year earlier the number of complaints reached 49,493.

With growing calls for stricter regulations to be in place for the building trade, Isabel Davies, from Tunbridge wells, Kent, is now trying to gather 100,000 signatures to take her petition calling for a licensing scheme for traders to parliament.

Ms Davies, who herself has been stung by a rogue builder, said: 'After doing thorough research I realised there's such a grey area in this. I'm a teacher but I am also studying law and we are regulated but builders aren't regulated.

'They are not regulated at all and I understand that they have the Federation of Master Builders but that's not under the government.

'I am asking the government to bring in a legislation to change the law and to also make it a criminal offence.

'There needs to be a law to protect both sides. There needs to be strong regulations, strong checks and we would like to build a company that is governed by the Government.

'It would be impartial to both the customer and the builder and would ensure regular checks are done every month and references are thoroughly checked and available to the customer.

'If once the checks are done and an inspector goes and looks at every builder's work on every property they do and finds that it's not up to standard then they have an opportunity to fix it. If it's still not fixed then they lose their licence and they have to train. That's what we're stretching for.'

She added: 'Ideally I would like to get over 10000 signatures to really take it seriously and then I would like to think that we as a community as in the people who have suffered horribly can come together and we can actually go to the house of commons and say what we want. To say that things need to change.'

Sylvia Rook, lead officer at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said the organisation can only pursue cases that breach criminal law.

She said: 'I think the important thing to identify is there are two types of law. There is civil and the criminal law and Trading Standards can only get involved in criminal law so there has to be a breach of legislation.

'If a consumer has a problem with poor work that's a civil contractual matter. They have a right to make a claim through civil law under the Consumer Rights Act because the work had not been done with reasonable care and skill.

'So if they contact Trading Standard and it's in relation to bad workmanship then the matter will just be recorded on file and nothing can happen because it's civil.

'In terms of the regulation there is an issue with the fact that anybody can be a builder. If I'm a reputable builder I will be a member of a trade association, but I don't have to be.'

Ms Rock said those stung by poor workmanship should first lodge a call with the Citizen's Advice Consumer Helpline.

She continued: 'The first stage is to complain to the citizens advice consumer helpline.

'They will get advice from trained advisors on what they're rights are and complaints are accessible by Trading Standards so we get to see all complaints from consumers in our area.

'That gives us a chance to see if there's a pattern of trade and to be able to see if there are any particular problems that Trading Standards can get involved with because if we can we certainly do. It's just a matter of having our hands tied with what the law says.'

She added: 'As far as the consumer is concerned they just have to provide information about the complaint and everything else is dealt with by Trading Standards.

'They have to give witness statements, they have to be potentially willing to give statements in court if necessary, so that means meeting the builder possible face to face.

'In terms of a civil case the consumer is taking action themselves because the work has not been done well. They only have to prove their case on the balance of probabilities but Trading Standards have to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. & # 39;

Ms Rock advised those looking for a builder to look for those belonging to good trader schemes and to seek independent sites for reviews.

She added:  'You need to get quotes form three different builders and preferably recommended by family or friends. If you can't get a recommendation, then there are a number of good trader schemes. There's buy with confidence, no rogue traders here and trust a traders is another one.

'Look for businesses which have good reviews on independent sites but just be aware there are some sites where people can pay to have bad reviews removed.

'Get the quote in writing so you know exactly what is being agreed, you know what your times scales are so there are't any nasty surprises half way through and if they say any more work needs to be done when they're with you then they should give you a new quotation so you know exactly what they are saying you need doing.

'It helps trading standards if there is something in writing rather than if it's just a verbal exchange.'

Barrister Joshua Dubin, who specialises in property law at 3PB Barristers, in Oxford, said 'one of the important pitfalls' for the building industry was the fact that there was not a scheme which required traders to demonstrate their competence.

He said: 'The main regulations are the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. They penalise people for using unfair commercial practices. 'You can't do things that distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer.

'For instance, you wouldn't normally go with somebody down the road to the cashpoint and pay them £10,000 in cash to fix your gutter. So why do some people do that? It's because the rogues have used commercial practices on them which have distorted their behaviour.

'There are some areas where tradesmen are required to regulate. But there are other schemes which aren't quite regulation but can give us a certain amount of security, like Trust Mark, the Federation of Master Builders, the Considerate Constructors Scheme, and Confederation of Roofing Contractors.

'If you go to a barrister or a solicitor, you know that if they're in practice they will have professional insurance if things go wrong.

'This is perhaps where one of the important pitfalls is 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 added: '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.

'A lot of people that we employ will have some sort of public liability insurance. But the rogue won't, and so when things go wrong there is nothing to back it up in terms of suing them in civil courts.'

Addressing why there were not any regulations in place he added:  'I suppose the answer is, like all these things you start off saying there should be a voluntary code; and then you get a voluntary code and it doesn't work well enough, and then government has to step in.'

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