Cowboy builders targeting city - here's how to avoid them

Roger Gidney, inset, on how to avoid cowboy builders

Roger Gidney, inset, on how to avoid cowboy builders - Credit: Roger Gidney / Getty Images

Criminals are preying on city homeowners looking to get work done but who are struggling with long lead times. 

Norwich's booming building business has only been getting more frantic since the pandemic.

And this has prompted a number of rogue traders to take advantage.

John Miller, from Costessey, conned customers out of £220,000 for work he never completed in March 2019 - but was put back behind bars in 2020 after breaching conditions.

And in March 2022 a warrant was issued for the arrest of builder, Kyle Muir, who fleeced six customers out of £48,000.

Roger Gidney, managing director of Property 1st (Maintenance) Ltd

Roger Gidney, managing director of Property 1st (Maintenance) Ltd - Credit: Roger Gidney

Roger Gidney, managing director of maintenance company Property 1st, has shared how to avoid being conned.

He said: "One simple thing is word of mouth.

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"Speak to friends or family who have had work completed - you'll find people will shout louder if a bad job has been done.

"The best thing I can recommend is checking the Norfolk County Council Trusted Trader website.

"It gives a list of verified traders who people can trust to do their work."

bricklayer building a wall

bricklayer building a wall - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

But what happens if the damage is already done and hard-earned cash has already been spent - but the work unfinished?

Martyn James, head of media at complaints and claims company Resolver, said: "We deal with this kind of complaint a lot.

"It's a tricky one because it depends on what is wrong - some are about the quality of the work whereas other instances can be about the time it is taking - but both can be grounds for complaint.

"One thing not to do is pay cash in hand.

"It's almost impossible to get your money back this way - so pay by credit card if possible.

Martyn James, a consumer law expert for Resolver, a free independent issue resolution service

Martyn James, a consumer law expert for Resolver, a free independent issue resolution service - Credit: Resolver

"There's no reason in this day and age for a legitimate company not to be taking money by card.

"Should a complaint need to be made the company should be signed up to a trade body or organisation.

"The membership scheme of the builder or contractor can be found on their website and will explain what are grounds for a dispute or complaint.

"Over all of this though there is the court system - worst case you can take them to small claims court - which is easier than people think."