Cowboy builders exist because we let them – so it’s time to stop supporting rogue tradesmen

publication date: Aug 18, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

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Cowboy builders exist because we let them – so it’s time to stop supporting rogue tradesmen


One of the main reasons the ‘bad guys’ get to continually mess up renovation and maintenance jobs on people’s properties is because we don’t want to pay 20% VAT.


And it’s understandable as to why. If you have a £10k project, the final price would be £12k, that’s a lot of extra money – just to give to the government!


As a result, we try to offer cash in return for dropping the amount of VAT paid, but this is a major issue as it means:-

  1. You are much more likely to get a cowboy builder or tradesman who will cause far more damage than 20% of the cost of the VAT.
  2. If anything goes wrong, they run off with your money or bodge the job, you can’t turn to the courts for help, so again, you end up losing much more than the 20% VAT you try to save.
  3. You miss out on guarantees and warranties for work which could help add value to your home, sell it more easily or mean you have someone to turn to who will fix mistakes for free.

Rather than support the ‘rogue elements’ of the housing renovation and repair industry, a better way to avoid paying most of the VAT is to get behind the campaign to cut it from 20% to 5%.


This has proved to work very well in the Isle of Man, but wasn’t implemented in the rest of the UK, which is a shame, as it’s really improved the trade and definitely reduced the incidents of cowboy builders.


Reduce VAT from 20% to 5%!

Although we often feel like there is very little we can do to change things, there is – especially when it is coming up to an election!


So if enough of us get together to try and reduce the VAT, then we can do it and everyone will benefit!


For more information on how to reduce the VAT from 20% to 5%, visit the Federation of Master Builders website.


To ensure you don’t get caught with the ‘bad guys’, make sure you choose the right tradesman and builder who have guarantees and warranties to help you if things go wrong:-


Need your electrics sorting?


Getting a new boiler or doing work involving gas on your home?

Find a qualified Gas Safe Engineer - How to Ensure your Propertry is Gas Safe Checklist


Thinking of doing building work?

Take a look at our How to Choose a Builder Checklist and make sure you protect your cash with a Home Improvements Guarantee (HIG)


Want to know how to avoid a Rogue Trader?


Whatever you do, if you have a damp problem, don’t call the builder!
It’s a specialist task to work out what’s causing damp, so you need specialists to help you, read our checklist - Identifying and Solving Rising Damp Checklist


Any questions - do feel free to get in touch.

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