News story

Tighter checks to keep cowboy builders out

New measures have been put in place to help protect people from cowboy builders, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Tradesmen who operate under self-check schemes, which allow them to check their own work, will be required to meet higher standards and prove they meet the right levels of quality, giving householders the peace of mind that work on their homes is up to scratch.

The measures will also ensure that householders have a financial safety net in place such as a guarantee or insurance, to catch them if self-check installers fail to finish work properly or if they can’t be chased through the courts.

Around 85,000 complaints are made about building work in homes each year according to the Office of Fair Trading.

Current self-check schemes have conditions in place to keep the cowboys out. Today’s proposals will further protect people from shoddy work and raise the bar for self-check tradesmen.

Organisations running self-check schemes will now:

  • need to be accredited to an international quality standard in order to operate
  • have to assess that their members’ competence levels and actual work are up to national standards
  • be required to promote the membership and use of their schemes.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:

“Cowboy builders that leave behind a trail of shoddy work costing householders thousands to put right, give the rest of the industry a bad name. We are determined to keep the cowboys from infecting self-check schemes, which let hardworking competent tradesman get on with providing high quality work, quickly and at fair prices.

“I’m determined to ensure that consumers are properly protected. By raising the bar even higher for self-check tradesman, we are sorting the rogues from the professionals, making it easier for people to identify competent installers and giving them the confidence that they will receive a high quality of work - or be protected if they don’t.”

Further information

  1. In the year to March 2011, Consumer Direct received 70,000 complaints from consumers about general home improvements, maintenance and repairs, and an additional 15,000 specifically about the (window and conservatory) glazing sector. (Source: Home Repairs and Improvements: A Research Report by TNS-BMRB for the Office of Fair Trading, June 2011.

  2. The new conditions of authorisation (PDF 60KB) for competent person scheme operators are published today, together with an impact assessment (PDF 325KB and the summary of responses to consultation.

  3. Also published today is an invitation for applications to be made to the Department for Communities and Local Government for new or extended schemes.

  4. Installers of windows and boilers and other tradesmen can be part of competent person schemes which allow them to self-check (self-certify) the compliance of their work with building regulations. The self-check system cuts out the need for checking by the local authority or other third parties, allowing quality work to be done quickly and saving the customer money.

Published 6 June 2012