Monday 14th May 2012 • 03:28pm • By Samuel H Diamond
Over the years, we have been called out to many jobs to revert the shocking damage inflicted by cowboy builders. These fly-by-night outfits have caused untold numbers of homeowners a great deal of money, time and stress.
One of the roofs we examined on a recent job could have come straight out of Cowboy Builders 101, a textbook example of how cowboys operate and how dangerous their botches can be.
The homeowners in this case were experiencing a minor roof leak, so when the cowboys came calling it seemed like a stroke of luck. The cowboys alleged that this job would require them to replace all of the roof’s lead flashing – a “solution” which was as unnecessary as it was expensive.
If you’re thinking that they may have paid over the odds but at least they got some nice new lead, then you’d be wrong.
Yes, it’s exactly what it looks like. The cowboys had simply smeared mortar around a section of the roof. At the front of the house.
They hadn’t even used a pointing trowel, instead choosing the delicate and sophisticated method of ‘slopping it on by hand’.
The supposedly problematic lead hadn’t been touched, apart from being coated with ugly brown handprints.
The worst part? It didn’t do a thing to stop the leak.
The cost for this act of vandalism? A whopping £375!
Rogue roofers canvass areas using standard door-to-door techniques – knocking on doors and leaving business cards – but instead of selling their services, they attempt to sell fear.
Once they have their foot in the door, cowboys are notorious for their uncanny ability to spot “urgent problems” that would be “far more expensive to fix if left for any longer”. Of course, the cowboy will have “just the thing to sort out the problem” and will be able to do it for a “special on-the-spot discount”.
The consequences of falling afoul of unlicenced, unprofessional and unregulated roofers can have a greater impact than on your wallet, they can cause serious safety hazards as well. Here are three simple reasons you should never consider using a cowboy roofer:
- In the photos accompanying this article, you can see that the cowboys have casually discarded large shards of slate across the rooftop. This laziness could result in a serious accident – a stiff breeze could send the sharp, jagged javelin hurtling towards the street below.
- Cowboy roofers don’t bother erecting scaffolding and are unlikely to use safety equipment. This leaves the workers and their tools in a precarious position, the slightest slip could easily cause injury to themselves and anyone walking below.
- Because cowboys are generally unskilled and untrained, they will likely leave your roof in a worse state than when they started. A small leak could turn into a gaping hole, protective seals could be callously breached and there would be no way of knowing until it was too late.
The sad reality is that cowboy roofers will continue to exist as long as there are vulnerable targets for them to exploit.
Be vigilant and tell your friends and family that no matter how good a deal it may seem, it’s always best to stick with the professionals.
Take a look at our appearance on BBC One’s Cowboy Trap as the good guys trusted to put things right on a mistreated property.
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