A new survey by Checkatrade found that a third (33%) of homeowners are afraid to hire a rogue trader.  

These rogue traders are known for their poor craftsmanship, excessive charging homeowners and requiring them to do unnecessary work.

Rogue traders targeted the top jobs of electricians, plumbers, roofers and builders.

Unscrupulous: More than four in five rogue traders operate under the pretence of being a qualified electrician, roofer, builder or plumber (picture posed by models)

Rogue traders: 4 out of 5 rogue traders pose as electricians, builders, plumbers, or roofers. (picture by model)

The trader search site estimates that as many as 13% percent of Britons claimed to have been ripped off by a trader within the past year.

However, despite all the pain that may have been experienced by many Britons, only one fifth of Britons will still be willing to use an unlicensed tradesperson. 

The home-improvement industry is under increasing pressure due to the constant shortage of raw materials and rising demand for tradespeople. This has created the perfect environment for criminals to take advantage. 

Numerous find-a trader and social media sites have attracted thousands of traders. 

Check out Checkatrade’s Tips for Choosing a Trader

1) Be wary of high availability

2) Pay attention to low-priced quotes

Avoid being required to pay full upfront

4) Do not accept work from anyone who is a trade whose ‘doorstep’ you are.

Checkatrade reported that the company’s membership grew from 39,000 members to 44,000 last year. But, customers can spot bad employees more easily with its ratings system. 

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders stated that rogue builders pose a threat to both consumers and well-respected builders. Consumers need to exercise caution when selecting a company to build their home.

“It’s crucial to seek out recommendations, review previous work, talk with other tradespeople, and request a contract.

“However, local builders are experiencing unprecedented skill and material shortages. This makes it difficult for them to get quotes. It is important that you have patience.

“Anybody who says they are available right away should raise alarm as builders can be busy. 

The homeowner’must conduct their own vetting’  

Checkatrade reports that more than half of Britons don’t believe they can distinguish between a cowboy and a trader.

Asking family and friends to recommend someone is one way. According to research done by Powered Now, roughly six out of ten homeowners hired someone based upon this.

It can give you some comfort knowing that at least one person has endorsed the tradesman.

Rogue traders tend to have knack for spotting problems that don't really exist. But sadly 55 per cent of homeowners are not confident they can spot a cowboy from a verified trader.

It is not uncommon for scammers to spot problems that aren’t there. However, 55 percent of homeowners do not believe that they will be able to identify a cowboy in a trader. 

Additionally, 38% of Britons claimed to have discovered a tradesperson by using sites like Checkatrade and Rated People, while as much as one-in-five admits to finding a tradesperson via Facebook.

Checkatrade or TrustATrader are two sites that allow homeowners to find local tradespeople. They can also compare their ratings and reviews.

You can also post a job on sites like Rated People and MyBuilder. After traders respond, you will make a list and pay tradespeople to obtain your details.

What is the best way for Britons to find tradespeople?

Populous for Powered Now commissioned a survey that included 2075 British homeowners. 

59% of Britons found tradespeople through family recommendations.

66 per cent have found a tradesperson through a friend’s recommendation.

38% of respondents have used a site like MyBuilder or Rated People.

17% have used the service of a professional trader to find them after they finish a project.

19% have discovered a tradesperson via Facebook

Nextdoor is used by 11 percent to find tradespeople.

5 percent have discovered a tradesperson via Instagram

3.3% have discovered a tradesperson via TikTok

20% have discovered a tradesperson via an online search using Google, Bing and Safari

You can then choose between the quotes and trade profiles, based on reviews.

Noting that every review site charges traders for their use of the platform (albeit at different levels), it is worth noting that websites also make a profit from more traders signing up.

TrustATrader members pay almost £1,000 per year to advertise on its website.

Rated People charges from £42 a month, but also typically charges traders £18 for ‘job leads’.

Tradesmen who use Checkatrade will need to pick one of four membership plans, starting from around £30 a month.

MyBuilder charges no monthly fee but charges a fee when homeowners shortlist tradespeople and verify contact details.

Its shortlist fees typically range from £2 to £35 depending on the size of the job.

While these websites can provide a wonderful way for individuals to network with traders from various fields of expertise across the globe, concerns exist that they may not be equipped to handle complaints or conduct checks to ensure people are protected against unscrupulous trader.

Paula Higgins founded the HomeOwners Alliance.

“They can be a good way to find a few recommendations but the homeowners have to do their own research.

“These sites that allow you to find a tradesman online are effectively advertising sites. However, they do not have the same level of vetting as other sites.

“These websites get paid by tradesmen getting referrals, and it is easy for rogue tradersman to shut down one company and start another.”

You should be looking for Credentials 

For homeowners, it is a great idea to ask for proof of trade membership before hiring any tradesperson.

For electricians, the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting and National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers is one of these bodies. Gas engineers can look for a Gas Safe Register Certificate.

A good idea is to also check out Companies House to find out how long the business has been operating and what its financial status is.

Many people can be taken in by a rogue trader and once work has begun it can quickly become a very disruptive and expensive mistake.

Rogue traders can take in many people and make costly mistakes once they start working.

Higgins stated that it is good to verify whether your tradesman of choice is a member or not, but do not rely on them.

Most trade association websites will offer a listing of their members online. You can also call the site to confirm.

“Find their company name, and look at Companies House to find out how long they’ve been trading. If they aren’t trading for a long time, I wouldn’t be surprised.

“It is essential to establish a construction contract before you start any larger projects. This will help avoid having to pay 100% upfront.

It is also a great way to get multiple quotations for major projects. Ask each tradesperson questions so you can assess their knowledge and decide if or not they trust you.

TrustMark is run by Simon Ayers who is the chief executive officer of TrustMark. He stated that it was important to start planning early and get quotes. We recommend at least three, as good tradespeople often work for several months in advance.

Talk things out and be open to answering questions. You’ll be able to share a common understanding and agree on any requirements.

“Don’t choose the cheapest option. Ask if it matches what you are asking or expecting.

You have hired a rogue trader. What should you do?

A rogue trader can easily take many people in, which can lead to costly mistakes and disruption.

Ayers said, “It’s a great idea to gather evidence, including photographs, and make notes of dates when conversations occurred and the names and addresses of people you spoke to,”

Good communication can prevent problems from arising, especially when it comes to planning and execution.

‘If all else fails, check to see if the tradesperson/company belongs to an Alternative Disputes Resolution Service which might offer a solution to your problem.

If things seem to be going south quickly, maybe because the work hasn’t been upheld or the tradesperson is leaving to do other work, you might have to reduce your losses.

Higgins stated that if you’re unhappy about the work, you might decide to quit the job and find a new one.

“Even though it may be more expensive than other options, this is often a better option. Follow your instincts; it’s possible to want to give up while you’re ahead.

TrustMark’s advice and tips for hiring a tradesperson or business


Really think through the work you’re looking to have done and take expert advice if needed. You should know how much you can afford and what your budget is. You should consider that current prices could rise prior to the completion of the job due to increased costs for materials or supply problems.

Specific details are important. Indicate what you require in the brief.

We recommend that you start planning your project and getting quotes as soon as possible. High-quality tradespeople can often be busy for months.

Ask for references and reviews. Also, get recommendations from family members, friends, or relatives. Ask for references and, if possible visit the jobs of previous clients. Use TrustMark’s ‘Find a Trader’ facility.

As it provides protection in the event of an unforeseen circumstance, a written contract should be used. You should ensure that the contract includes details such as cost, timescale, and how they will handle disputes.

You should verify what warranties, guarantees or protections are offered. TrustMark Registered Businesses must offer a minimum two years’ financial protection mechanism for all works carried out in and around the home. If the business is closed, it will cover certain risk.

It is normal for businesses to ask for deposits or percentages of materials that must be purchased in advance.

You should only pay for completed work unless you use a TrustMark payment protection service that releases funds at critical project milestones.

You should be flexible. Sometimes you may have to wait for tradespeople or material suppliers to become available. Communication is essential.  


Choose the cheapest one. Does the quotation match what you’re asking for or expecting? Do you have references or reviews that are positive? Consider how you’ll communicate with the business and they with you.

Be nervous about asking to see their credentials and insurances – all good tradespeople, including TrustMark Registered Businesses, will be happy to show you.

Don’t be scared to ask your tradesperson questions. If you’re unsure about something or unhappy, the earlier you raise the issue, the easier it is to rectify.

Don’t forget to ensure that you have the access necessary. Are there sufficient parking spaces or facilities for loading materials? Are there adequate parking or facilities for offloading materials?

Take on any responsibility. Ask questions and have a conversation, regardless of how small or trivial. That way you’ll both have a common understanding of what’s required, and any limitations.

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