Don’t be Tempted by Cowboy Prices

cheap doesn't mean goodBuilding materials costs have been soaring recently and as a result price increases are beginning to be passed on to homeowners. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is worried that this is going to lead to more people hiring so-called ‘cowboy’ builders in an effort to save themselves money on building work.

Since the EU referendum last year, the cost of building materials has seen dramatic a dramatic rise, and this is starting to reduce builders’ margins for profit. The depreciation of the pound has resulted in a range of materials becoming more costly, with construction firms naming timber, bricks, blocks, insulation, windows, slate, plasterboard, boilers, radiators and porcelain products as being the materials with the greatest price increases.

According to research by the FMB a third of small building companies say that their margins are getting tighter and tighter. Over 10% of builders say that they have been making losses on construction projects and 22% (almost a quarter!) of them say that they have had no choice but to pass these price rises onto consumers.

The Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, Brian Berry, says that “Material price increases have left builders under severe pressure. This research shows that following the fall in the exchange rate, timber is the material that the majority of builders say has increased most in price but the problem doesn’t end there – everything from insulation to windows to bricks and blocks are soaring in price.”

He goes on to say that “A third of builders report that these price increases are eating into their already razor-thin margins – and this on top of increased wages and salaries stemming from long-term construction skills shortages.”

Builders are likely to make a loss when the price for a specific material or products suddenly increases while they are in the middle of a building project. Because they’ve already quoted for the work they often end up swallowing the extra costs themselves rather than re-quoting.

Apparently 85% of builders believe that these cost increases could persuade homeowners to use cowboy builders in order to reduce the expense of their projects and this has become of concern to the FMB. The low prices quoted by these rogue traders could be tempting to consumers facing these increased costs but the FMB says it is worth holding your nerve.

Using a cowboy builder is likely to lead to bungled jobs and all sort of other problems further down the road. If something sounds too good to be true there’s a very good chance that it is, so if you’re quoted a very low price that builder is almost certainly taking a shortcut or using defective materials. The last thing you want is parts of your new build collapsing because the builder has skimped on using the correct materials for the job.

If the costs of building work for the project you have in mind are too high, then the FMB suggest that it is better to commission a reduced version of the project from a reputable builder than opting for all the bells and whistles from a rogue trader. It really isn’t worth the risk to work with a cowboy.

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