Policy & Public Affairs


The Cowboy Builder: A Public Perspective

Date: 04/07/06


Polling Organisation


The results of this survey were both surprising and encouraging for the homeowner and for the construction industry. The levels of satisfaction with building work expressed by the homeowners in this study were extremely high with 91% of respondents saying that they were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the work.

This is not to say, however, that the problem of rogue traders, commonly known as ‘cowboy builders’, does not exist. The Office of Fair Trading receives over 100,000 complaints each year regarding this issue, but this does not count those who have not registered a complaint. While the industry should take pride in the fact that the majority of builders are professional and conscientious it should also be aware that there is still work to be done on preventing those who do not meet the required high standards from trading.

While the industry clearly has a key role to play in addressing the issue of cowboy builders, it is also vital that the consumer takes a share of the responsibility. This study has strongly suggested that those who make simple checks and follow consumer advice regarding choosing and working with a builder tend to have greater satisfaction with the completed work. It is essential that the public do not support rogue traders by any means, including the avoidance of VAT through cash-in-hand incentives.

It is now crucial to build on the progress seen here in raising awareness of best practice in the domestic building, repair and maintenance sector for both the builder and the consumer. Every effort should be made to highlight the availability of advice and information on these issues.