How To: Avoid Cowboy Builders

March 14, 2019     News

It can be difficult for those with little industry knowledge to know where to find professional, trusted commercial building contractors in Exeter and in turn avoid cowboy builders. There are certain precautionary steps to take to ensure you end up with the desired results for a fair price. Read our advice on how to avoid cowboy and rogue tradesmen in Devon and the UK, so your general building and maintenance is second to none.

General Red Flags:


  • The company or individual insisting on cash payment before the work has been carried out.
  • A deal too good to be true – while potentially tempting, if the quote seems ridiculously low there’s usually a catch such as poor quality results or hidden costs.
  • The builder is in a rush to do business.
  • A refusal to discuss timescale for completion. An experienced professional will be able to produce an estimated completion date.
  • The builder is not VAT registered – building contractors, who take on regular projects, are likely to be registered. Sole traders whose work does not take them above the threshold for compulsory VAT are an exception.

Where to Find a Trusted Commercial Builder


Going by recommendation is the best way to discover adequate tradesmen in your local area, especially when speaking to those who have been in a similar situation to the one you facing you. Another way to pinpoint respected builders is through a simple internet search, contemplate the portfolio of a company and what others have had to say about they work they’ve completed, testimonials. A well-designed and informative website that gives a complete picture of the services available is also an indication of a trustworthy entity.

Verify the Details You’ve Been Given


Be wary if someone fails to give you an address, landline number or company name in a quote. Calling the landline number to accept the quote and seeking out contact pages online are useful verification  methods. If the company or individual claim to belong to any professional associations or to have certain accreditations, you will be able to follow up with the given association to verify.

Well-Written Building Quotes & Estimates


Builders Quote And Estimate


You should always insist on an agreement in writing or a signed contract when dealing with a company or individual for the first time. After receiving a written quote or estimate you should consider a number of things in order to determine whether you are being treated with honesty and fairness.


  • Ask yourself, have I been given a quote or estimate?
  • If it’s an estimate consider why it may alter in the future and at what cost.
  • Outline a clear start and end point for the job – what is the specific purpose of the project?
  • Consider the quality of materials being used. Where are they coming from and are they included in the quote or estimate?
  • Never pay for the work up front. If they require capital for specialist and unusual materials, offer to buy them yourself to ensure the goods actually belong to you.

Cowleys – “Maintaining Today – Building For Tomorrow – With You”


Cowleys Van


At Cowleys we always consider the needs of each client individually and never compromise the quality of our work. As trusted commercial building contractors across Exeter and Exmouth, we have decades of industry experience in home extensions, suspended ceiling projects and reactive maintenance services and all our staff are provided with ongoing training throughout their employment.


Contact us today to discuss how we can provide a solution to your building and maintenance needs.

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