How To Avoid Driveway Cowboys

granite sett driveEnsure a quality finish with a professional driveway contractor

Many people fall prey to unscrupulous contractors who leave behind unfinished or poor quality work. Here are our tips for avoiding these ‘driveway cowboys’.

So-called “cowboy builders” are a growing problem across the UK, with driveways appearing to be a magnet for these unscrupulous contractors. Work carried out by driveway cowboys is not guaranteed, and many people find themselves out of pocket and left with poor quality or unfinished work.

However, these types of contractors can be very persuasive, and it can seem like they’re offering you a great deal. But our hints and tips will help you avoid being taken in by driveway cowboys.

Don’t hire on the doorstep

One of the best ways to avoid driveway cowboys is to avoid hiring anybody who just shows up on your doorstep offering to start work there and then. Reputable contractors tend to be busy and so don’t need to solicit work in this way, and they will need a couple of weeks to plan the job and order in materials. Somebody who can start work ‘tomorrow’ is a sure sign of a cowboy, particularly if they ask for cash up front. Remember to stay firm – don’t be afraid to tell them to go away and close the door. If they become intimidating or start harassing you, call the police.

Ask For A Quality Finish

If you do need work doing on your driveway, take the time to search for a professional and trusted builder who will source their materials from a trusted stone supplier. This will give you access to better and more varied materials, such as different types of granite. For example, reclaimed granite setts offer a rustic look that is much more attractive than the bland block paving usually offered by driveway cowboys.

Get everything in writing

Don’t accept verbal estimates – if there are any disputes down the line you won’t have any proof of what was originally agreed. Ask for a written quote on headed paper that includes the business address and landline telephone number. Beware of anyone with just a mobile number as they can be difficult to trace if anything goes wrong. Ideally, before agreeing to any work, you should get written quotes from three different companies so that you can compare them with each other.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Commissioning work on your home is a big commitment, and any reputable contractor will be happy to help put your mind at ease. Ask them if they are prepared to provide a long term written guarantee of their work – and be wary of anyone who refuses or seems reluctant to do this. Contracting companies should also have a minimum of £1 million worth of public liability insurance, so make sure you also cover this in your list of questions. It’s also worth checking if the contractor is a member of a professional organisation or trade association. This in itself is no guarantee of quality, but it can often be an indicator that the contractor takes his trade seriously.

Do some digging

No, we’re not suggesting you pick up some tools and start working on your driveway yourself. What we are suggesting is that you take time to do some background research into the contractor. Search for them online to find out if they have a registered business address. If they have a website, you can also look for testimonials from satisfied customers. This search is also a good opportunity to check if the contractor or business is linked with any negative news stories – this can be a big warning flag!

If the contractor has told you that they are a member of a trade association, call up the association to check they are telling the truth. It’s also a good idea to ask the contractor for two references so that you can speak with previous customers and see examples of their work. Anyone who is reluctant to provide this information could well have something to hide.

Cheapest isn’t always best

Driveway contractors who show up on your doorstep often claim to be offering great value for money. But, remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is, so be careful not to fall into their trap.

By taking the time and effort to find a reputable contractor, you can be confident of getting a quality finish and a driveway that you can be proud of.