Trading standards officers are warning people to be on the alert for rogue builders.
With lockdowns, and holiday plans cancelled, many people have decided to make home improvements instead.
This has resulted in complaints to Brighton & Hove Trading Standards about unscrupulous builders, who have either failed to carry out work or done a poor job.
These include an elderly resident who responded to a flier through the door and paid £20,000 for roof repairs, which failed to stop the roof leaking.
Nationally, trading standards services estimate that unscrupulous traders have cost homeowners more than £200 million for poor quality or unnecessary building work over the course of the pandemic.
Building work in the home is currently allowed under national lockdown rules with appropriate Covid-19 safety measures in place. Always check the latest government Covid-19 restriction guidance.
Don’t get caught out
Follow these simple but important steps:
1. Never employ anyone who cold calls at your home, and be wary if they can start immediately.
2. Make sure you get details of reliable accredited builders from approved trader schemes, for example the Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme.
3. Always get written proof of what you and your builder have agreed to in the form of a contract, including:
- Time scale for the work to be completed.
- Payments in stages - never pay all the money up front. It's also best to avoid paying in cash or by bankers draft as you get no financial protection.
Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable builder
Councillor Lizzie Deane, chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “There are a lot of very good, reputable builders in the city. But we are concerned about reports of rogue operators targeting residents, including the elderly and vulnerable.
“In the last year our Trading Standards team has received around 40 complaints about builders, involving sums ranging from £5,000 to £250,000.
“However, we think this is the tip of the iceberg, and there are likely to be many incidences that have not been brought to our attention.
“Our message is to always make sure you are dealing with a reputable builder and get details confirmed in writing, before making any payment.”
More information and guidance
For further advice or assistance, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service online or call on 03454 04 05 06 or 0808 223 1133. This information will be then be referred to trading standards.