Merton Council is warning residents to be wary of ‘cold call’ builders knocking on doors looking for work.
Cowboy builders will typically pick on elderly and vulnerable residents offering quick cheap repairs that are often shoddy, incomplete and overpriced.
“We’ve had some real horror stories,” says Cllr Ross Garrod, Cabinet Member for Street Cleanliness and Parking, “and if it sounds too good to be true it most probably is.”
Merton Council’s trading standards team, which is responsible for investigating cases and bringing the accused to court, said examples include:
- A resident agreeing to have a drain pipe replaced for £180 after which builders began working on other ‘repairs’ and asked him to sign a £45,000 building contract the following day
- Mr ‘B’ ended up paying £47,000 for what were initially minor roof repairs
- An elderly lady agreed to have moss removed from her roof after which the builder deliberately removed tiles from her kitchen and conservatory saying replacement tiles and other ‘associated’ works would cost £16,000
- Two residents asked to pay £26,000 and £45,000 respectively after minor repairs escalated into larger jobs they didn’t originally asked for.
Tell-tale signs that things aren’t right include work starts before an agreement is reached, no documentation, the job cost rising beyond what was originally agreed, poor work, and traders becoming aggressive and intimidating
Cllr Garrod added: “If in doubt, ring our trading standards team who will try and arrange to be there next time the builder calls to find out what is going on.”
If you are concerned about an agreement you have entered into with a trader to have work done on your house or garden, phone the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. If necessary, your call will be referred to us and we will deal with it promptly. If you feel intimidated or frightened by a trader you should dial 999.