Attack of the cowboy builders

These scamming tradesmen and dodgy builders go to extreme lengths to cheat homeowners out of their savings.


Most tradesmen are trustworthy and put in an honest days work for an honest days pay. But up and down the country unscrupulous builders and handymen are going to great lengths to cheat and scam homeowners.

Don’t let cowboy builders take you for a ride and dont be mistaken for one either. An easy way to do this is to ask to see documents relating to public liability or tradesmen insurance

From builders who persuade pensioners to fork out life savings for unnecessary repairs to scammers who have ripped whole homes apart, here are some of the worst offenders.

Homes torn apart by lying builder

The man dubbed ‘Britain’s worst cowboy builder’ charmed his way into homes in a picturesque town in Wales before wreaking havoc and destruction.

“Lying” Lee Slocombe was asked to lay decking for 72-year old Maggie Surridge and told her that her walls would also need rebuilding. But when Maggie fell ill Lee jumped at the chance to flatten the property and add on extortionate fees. Lee strung Maggie along by telling her that he had cancer and needed more work.

Young couple Sheri Hall and James Gardner also found themselves in the wake of Lying Lee’s trail of destruction after asking the cowboy builder to knock down a wall.

But when the couple returned to their once-picturesque cottage, they found it had practically been demolished: the ceiling and staircase had been ripped away and the floorboards were torn up.

With the house devastated, Lee quietly slipped away.

In February of this year the net finally closed on Lee as he was sentenced to more than three and a half years in prison. Phew!

Pensioner fleeced for more than £100,000

In London, a trio of audacious rogue traders has been conning old people into handing over huge amounts of cash for pointless jobs.

The men convinced a 69-year old man to give them his life savings and take out a string of high interest loans. They’d originally told him that he had a leaky roof, and then identified a series of other jobs and bombarded him with hundreds of phone calls asking for money.

The victim had given the gang over £90,000 and was about to sign over the deeds to his house when a concerned bank manager contacted the police.

Police discovered that the gang had been operating similar scams around London weaselling £16,000 from an 82 year old man and £37,000 from a 93 year old.

These cowboy builders were also locked up: the leader of the group was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud.

Cowboy builder leaves home on the brink of collapse

A family were forced to spend two months sleeping in their dining room after a construction company’s devastation brought their Portsmouth home close to collapse.

B Drackett Construction Ltd were supposed to be building an extension, but their shoddy work made the back of the house fall down, rendering most of the house uninhabitable.

The owners, the McGrady family, have had to borrow £25,000 for rebuilding work. They’ve won a negligence case against the company but are yet to see any of the damages money awarded.

Are you protecting your trade?

As the UK’s biggest business insurance provider, we specialise in public liability insurance and protect more trades than anybody else. Why not take a look now and build a quick, tailored tradesman insurance quote?

Start your quote