Cowboy engineers are a curse to construction industry – screwing time, money, work and safety of everyone not cautious enough to avoid them. Though industry has taken multiple steps to filter them out – for example making “skill-and-safety” certifications like ECS Card mandatory to work – they always tend to find some clever workaround (fake ECS Card for example) to mask their true identity and continue duping customers.
So it’s essential for all homeowners or firms to be ahead in this game of cat-and-mouse to avoid being duped. But the million pound question is…how?? Here are our top five tried-and-trusted tips for keeping these rogues at bay:
Go for rated and recommended engineer – without fail:
Tradesmen hired online are rated for their behaviors and performances. Do check these out before making a final decision. In case you are looking to hire offline, words of mouth and recommendations by friends and family is what you can count on. When you hire someone who has been a good performer, chances are he will continue to be so for you as well.
Another benefit of hiring online is that all builders present there are pre-verified for their skill and safety credentials. In case you are trusting recommendation of some friend or family, it pays to double-check that engineer’s qualification. Competent gas and heating engineers are judged by JIB Card while it’s ECS Card that guarantee quality electrical engineer.
Get the paperwork done:
Don’t fall for the temptation of hiring the cheapest certified engineer around. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Find out the current average market rate and if possible agree to a fixed price. It’s always a good idea to have a mutually agreed contract in written — that includes full details of the work to be done along with costs and schedule. That way you’ll be legally protected and compensated should some dispute arise.
There may be tricky cases where your engineer would feel tentative about details such as cost per task or start and end date of the same. No worry there! Just put in the contract that the cost of tasks must be agreed before it is set in motion.
It’s risky to pay all the money in advance. There have been cases where cowboy builders decided not to turn up at all having got what they were after – the money. Always release the payment on task basis – right before or after a task is completed. Like all other terms of engagement, do mark this in the written contract as well.
Know your rights:
Contract is not the only saving grace for homeowners. There are other consumer rights accorded to you as well and you must know them. You have the right to cancel any order made in person, online or over phone as per the Consumer Contract Regulations. Moreover, If you are not satisfied with the quality of work (and can demonstrate this to all), the builder is liable to redo the work for no extra charge.
Provided that your builder turns out rogue, and refuse to compensate, let the Trading Standards Office at your local council handle the matter for you.
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