Cowboy builders cost economy £10bn


A study released by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has suggested that the UK economy could be missing out on £10 billion in building activity every year due to consumer anxiety over cowboy builders.

The FMB is the largest trade association for the construction industry in the UK and represents thousands of firms. It provides a service for the consumer as it inspects its members to ensure they adhere to regulations and quality expectations. Their “find a builder” service gives homeowners peace of mind when they are searching for a contractor for their project.

The research carried out in 2017 shows that 32% of the 2,000 homeowner respondents put off doing major home renovation work due to a fear that they may hire a so-called cowboy builder. The FMB estimate that this could add up to as much as £10 billion annually, based on homeowners spending an average of £40,000 per major project over the next five years.

Chief executive of the FMB Brian Berry has said that on average a homeowner will spend around £40,000 on a major home improvement and if they were guaranteed a positive experience, this potential spending could be unlocked, even for those homeowners who are too fearful to start the work.

Berry describes cowboy builders as having a “reign of terror” over the industry and that the government needs to bring in a form of mandatory licensing for domestic builders. Similar schemes exist in Australia and Canada, however, in the UK anyone can describe themselves as a builder and many rogue traders give the industry a bad name.

The FMB advise that customers get recommendations from friends and family when searching for a builder and that they can put customers in touch with vetted and inspected building firms. They are also working with the government on regulations to improve the way the industry is perceived.