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Householders - be wary of approaches from builders 2 May 2008

The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading is warning householders to be wary of using builders who call at their homes without an appointment offering to do work. The Office is aware of a number of builders currently in the Island who operate on this basis. Past experience of such builders indicates that the quality of their work is of a poor standard.

At this time of the year many people are thinking of having home improvements carried out. Enthusiasm to get the work underway can lead us all to make hasty decisions on who we choose to carry it out. Good building firms are very busy and may not be able to start straightaway. Waiting for them may be a better option however than using builders who can leave your property in a worse state than when they found it – and charge significant amounts for doing so.

Here is Chief Trading Standards Officer, John Peet’s advice on ensuring that you are not "ripped off" on building work:-

Do not agree to anything without knowing exactly what you are agreeing to:-

• ask for written quotations or statements of the exact cost of the goods or services (remember quotes cannot be altered by the trader but estimates are just that - a quotation for £500 of work cannot later be charged at £600 but an estimate of £500 can);

• find out who you are dealing with - obtain details of the company or individuals. Don’t settle for a mobile number ask for an Isle of Man business address and telephone number;

• don’t disclose financial details such as your bank account number, PIN number (Personal Identification Number) or other account or credit card details before satisfying yourself that the company or individual is legitimate;

• do not make payments in advance, say for material or other costs;

• obtain other quotations or make enquiries of other traders before you make any commitment.

For higher value jobs such as major building work you should find out what relevant qualification or experience the trader has. You should also ask for references from other customers and confirm the trader’s membership of any trade body with the organisation itself.

The Office produces a leaflet “Home Improvements – A guide to having work done on your home” which can be obtained from the Office in Lord Street, Douglas, telephone 686500 or from its website www.gov.im/oft

If a householder is concerned that they may have fallen foul of these problem builders they should contact the Office’s Trading Standards staff on 686520.

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