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How to avoid COWBOY BUILDERS; Essential guide on safest way to improve your home.

COWBOY builders can turn what should be an exciting home improvement - a new conservatory, drive, or a loft extension - into a nightmare.

But there are ways of safe-guarding yourself against rogue traders.

Dave Jessop, who works for Marshalls driveway manufacturers, says: "Unfortunately, there are cowboy contractors operating in the UK and people need to be on their guard."

As an affiliate Member of The Trading Standards Institute, Marshalls has set up a register of approved landscape contractors and driveway installers.

Dave adds: "We always warn consumers about the potential problems of dealing with contractors or sales people who turn up on their doorstep.

"And we always recommend they use an approved trader, preferably, one that has been vetted in terms of the quality of their work and products. If the person or company claim to be approved by an organisation, please remember to check that their membership or approval is still current."

To find out about Marshalls approved contractors register, visit www.marshalls.co.uk/transform or call the helpline on 0870 120 7474 for details of those in your area.

Be wary of builders who arrive on your doorstep looking for work or who can 'start tomorrow'.

Be firm with cold callers - decline their services and close the door.

Never accept a verbal estimate and always ask for a written quote and contract.

Seek at least three quotes. These should be dated on headed paper with an address and telephone number.

Choose the contractor you are most comfortable with and one that understands your needs and remember. Cheaper isn't always best!

Don't take them at face value - check them out and ask about previous contracts.

Can they show you work they have carried out previously?

Is the installer prepared to offer a longterm, written guarantee? If not beware.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:299
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