Increase In Complaints Over Rogue Builders

Residents are warned to be vigilant especially the elderly

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The council's trading standards and crime prevention teams are again warning residents, especially the elderly, to be on their guard against rogue builders and doorstep con artists.

The warning comes amid a growing number of complaints from residents about shoddy workmanship from cold calling builders and roofers.

The workmen knock on front doors and tell the occupants that their roof or part of their house needs urgent repairs. They then pressurise the householder into agreeing to the work there and then.

While the works may or may not be needed, the quality of the workmanship can be of a poor standard leaving householders having to shell out for additional repairs or remedial works.

In one case reported this week, a Balham resident was approached by workmen who said her roof needed re-tiling. They demanded £3,000 upfront to do the job.  The resident agreed to the work but insisted she would pay them when it had been completed. Unfortunately within just a few days of her paying the men, it became apparent that the job had been done badly and she now has damp patches all over her ceilings and walls. The case is now being investigated by the council's trading standards team.    

Trading standards spokesman Cllr Sarah McDermott said:
"This case and others we have heard about recently highlight the importance of never agreeing to have any work carried out by workers who tout for business and call at front doors unannounced.

She continued:
"If any building work is required it is always best to get written quotations beforehand from established and reputable businesses, together with a detailed specification of the works needed. People should also never pay in full until the work is actually completed. It is also worth asking friends or relatives if they have any recommendations. If this is not possible people can always check with consumer protection organisations like Trustmark or Checkatrade, who will provide details of 'approved' traders in the area."

Householders are also being advised to refuse to give cold calling builders permission to get up on their roofs. There is evidence to suggest that once on the roof, the workmen cause damage to try and persuade people that repair work is necessary."

People wanting to report suspicious traders to the council should call (020) 8871 7720 and if possible provide details of any vans or cars that are being used, including the registration number, plus a description of the builder/workman.

Anyone wanting advice about home security or crime prevention can call the town hall's community safety division on (020) 8871 6603.

To obtain a list of approved traders in your neighbourhood visit or call 01344 630804. Alternatively visit or call 0845 408 4866.

September 28, 2010