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The website MailonLine carried a detailed feature yesterday about homeowners who were left thousands of pounds out of pocket at the hands of their ‘cowboy’ builders. Their accounts come amid growing calls for the Government to introduce a statutory licensing scheme which regulates builders and protects customers seeking redress for poor workmanship.
3PB property barrister Joshua Dubin said in the article that “one of the important pitfalls for the building industry was the fact that there was not a scheme which required traders to demonstrate their competence.” He said: ‘The main regulations are the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. They penalise people for using unfair commercial practices. You can’t do things that distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer. For instance, you wouldn’t normally go with somebody down the road to the cashpoint and pay them £10,000 in cash to fix your gutter. So why do some people do that? It’s because the rogues have used commercial practices on them which have distorted their behaviour.”
“There are some areas where tradesmen are required to regulate. But there are other schemes which aren’t quite regulation but can give us a certain amount of security, like Trust Mark, the Federation of Master Builders, the Considerate Constructors Scheme, and Confederation of Roofing Contractors. If you go to a barrister or a solicitor, you know that if they’re in practice they will have professional insurance if things go wrong.”
“This is perhaps where one of the important pitfalls is for the building industry, because there isn’t any scheme which requires people in the construction industry to demonstrate competence and – before they can offer their services – get insurance.” He added: ‘With the construction industry you’re going to have good builders who want to join the professional bodies, but if you’re dishonest, you’re not going to want to spend the time and money going through that process if you can do the work without having to prove you can do it. A lot of people that we employ will have some sort of public liability insurance. But the rogue won’t, and so when things go wrong there is nothing to back it up in terms of suing them in civil courts.”
Addressing why there were not any regulations in place he added: “I suppose the answer is, like all these things you start off saying there should be a voluntary code; and then you get a voluntary code and it doesn’t work well enough, and then government has to step in.”
To read the full article from MailonLine, please click here.
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