I moved away from my usual genre of posts to highlight my experiences with the “Cowboy Builder” generation. These are a special breed of individuals who have possibly had varying backgrounds from telemarketers to recovering substance abusers. You cannot really paint a broad brush by determining where these individuals were discharged from, all we do know is that they wreak havoc on our properties.
However if I were to guess, my take on the matter will go something like this – drop-out, frustrated employee or maybe the recovering vice user decides that they are going to get their life in order! So as they clear their bank account in order to purchase the infamous “white” van and off they go to the print shop for their business cards and flyers.
Once given their first job they self-educate courtesy of YOUTUBE on the “do it yourself” tutorials. It gets a bit tricky when there are two jobs required on the same day for these humble souls become “specialist” in the field of “BS”.
Such excuses you may have already heard:
1. I’m sorry but the part/material is not available at the builders merchant so there is nothing I can do but wait for it to arrive?
2. Oh dear, the work is more than we expected but because I like you, I’m not going charge you for the extra days.
You get the picture…!
So there begins their circus acts in juggling the two or more jobs whilst your life is placed on hold as suspense and mystery of what they will do next… Should your turn arrives they are now looking eager and ready to work – requesting for the materials etc. and making you feel as if you have been the hindrance to their efficiency. They begin to work hard and then boredom settles in and like Houdini they are gone again! No note, no call or a good bye kiss they leave you like a “one night stand” with no means of contact as they grow cold and never answer your calls.
If you have at this moment – paid them half the “estimated” quote or purchased the materials… then you just got hoodwinked. Your deposit was most probably been used to buy the boys a pint of Guinness at the Pub and nominating you into their Guinness Book of Fools for believing them.
Just so we all are singing from the same hymn sheet – the work is not completed, they got half of your money and you spent loads on materials to which is either left outside for the elements to waste away or gone missing (possibly to be used at their other current job). Nonetheless, if I were you, and trust me I was one(!), stop the job right here and lick your wounds for it is better than slow bleeding you to death.
Enough said, tradesmen are all not the same but trust me if they see blood they are coming for the kill. Here are some practical solutions to avoid heartaches:
- Make sure you don’t settle your final price on an estimate, as they will be sure to increase it.
- Ensure that you make it clear that you have depended upon their professional experience to fully quote on the job and that if they should hit an unforeseen circumstance – it will not be out of your pocket, they should do their own due diligence prior to quoting and taking on the job.
- Don’t depart with your cash – pay in arrears and pay where proof is produced and where they are obliged to declare tax.
- Don’t believe them to be a friend or of the same religious background as you… These are the worst in my experience as they will affect your social network, making you to be the culprit.
- Say something and speak your mind… If the job and workmanship is rubbish, tell them and be straight (you are paying them – remember?).
- Write a contract with penalty clauses no matter how small the job is! Make sure that if you went to court – you made it clear and no amount of crafty swindling could misinterpret the agreement.
Well, I’ve genuinely been and still learning how to deal with tradesmen (those without scruples). Together we all can narrow this open market of “cowboys” so that they are no business for monkey business!