FLINTSHIRE COMPANY RUBICON GARDEN ROOMS IS FIRST IN THE UK TO WIN BACKING FROM TV CONSUMER PROTECTION EXPERT
A North Wales garden room company has become the first in the UK to win the seal of approval from one of the UK’s top expert witnesses, who advises TV shows such as Cowboy Builders and Rogue Traders.
Rubicon Garden Rooms, based in Deeside, is the first company to be accredited by the Master Garden Room Installers Association, founded by building standards guru Don Waterworth.
Don, an expert witness who advises police forces and councils on rogue trader cases, also advises TV consumer rights programmes, including BBC’s Rogue Traders and Channel 5’s Cowboy Builders with Dom Littlewood.
He has thirty years’ experience vetting traders and advising on trades disputes, and set up the MWCIA building accreditation scheme to help consumers choose top quality builders, and protect them from getting ripped off.
Rubicon Garden Rooms is the first garden room company to be accredited by the scheme, after impressing Don with their excellent track record for high quality work, and services.
Don said: “I was very impressed by Rubicon Garden Rooms.
“All of our members go through a rigorous process to become accredited and we only allow one contractor per post code so it is an elite rating.
“This means if customers choose one of our members, then they will get a first-class service, Rubicon Garden Rooms is the first garden room company we have accredited. and we are delighted to give them our backing.”
“The garden rooms that Rubicon build are beautiful. The organisational set up John has got, the way he does business, his knowledge and the interest he has in his customers is exactly what we are looking for from our members.
When you meet John you know this is someone who has got tremendous passion and experience. He goes to every job on the first day and makes sure the customer is going to get what they have been promised. You can see talking to John it’s a real passion, and the best companies are like this.”
Don said he first started working with Channel 5 TV’s Dom Littlewood over a decade ago and has since supported consumer protection programmes to inspect the quality of work, and provide support in prosecutions arising from investigations
He said: “Dom Liltlewood is absolutely fabulous to work with, one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. His programmes genuinely help people, and he really wants to sort the bad guys out.
“I see lots of cases where people have been let down, sometimes work has been done and it’s just a mess, but people don’t know what do and where to go for help. Just because someone is advertising their services doesn’t mean they are going to do a good job. I saw one case recently where an elderly man had been charged £118,000 for £10,000 of work, and that will now end up in court.
“In another case a conservatory roof was collapsing and dangerous, we got all the money back on that through Cowboy Builders, and we arranged for one of our members to put on a new roof, but it took a 12 months and a court case to resolve.
“When jobs go wrong it’s a very long process, to pursue someone in court it is a slow, slow process and you just don’t want to go there if at all possible.
“You want to choose somebody good in the first place and make sure you choose someone who’s going to do a good job. That’s why people buy from our members, because they get peace of mind.
Don added: “We work very closely with Trading Standards we are very keen that all of our members retain very high standards, and look after the customers, we have a mediation service in case there is a complaint but these are very rare indeed as the companies we accredit know they need to maintain the highest standards.”
“We also have a regular newsletter to educate our members, and we publish a rogues’ gallery for consumers to show the disastrous consequences of what can go wrong if you choose the wrong contractor.
“Your home, which should be your castle, can become a disaster area. Don’t assume all tradesmen can do what they say they can do. If people pick the wrong company and they end up going to court that can be an absolute nightmare.”
The endorsement comes as Rubicon Garden Rooms has also recently won a separate Trading Standards Award for Most Positive Feedback Received in 2019, as part of the North Wales Buy With Confidence scheme.
Buy With Confidence is a national approval scheme designed to help customers find suppliers which are approved by Trading Standards officers, and the award follows positive comments provided to the scheme by customers.
TO AVOID ROGUE TRADERS, WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR?
So you've seen an advert from a company on-line offering garden rooms and offices. Looks good, but what do you know about them?
The truth is that a number of companies are indeed not all they seem to be - some have been bust a number of times and have resurfaced as 'Pheonix Companies" rising from the ashes.
Of course there are times when companies fail through no fault of their own, but the ones to worry about are those which do so deliberately to reduce their long term liabilities (and guarantees), or to capitalise on the large deposits they've received from unwary customers.
So, to help you differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys here's a list of things we think you should check:
- Do they have a fixed operating address or a showroom? Rogue traders are less likely to have either of these, and certainly are unlikely to declare where they operate from to make it difficult to trace them in the event of problems
- Do they only have a mobile phone as a way of contacting them? Any self respecting business will have a landline but be careful, even numbers which look like landlines can actually be mobiles these days
- Do they show photographs of the Directors or staff on their website? Be very careful if they don’t, as this is a way of concealing who is behind the business so that if they go bust, they can start again without being recognised as owners of the previous business
- Are they members of Trade Organisations? Be careful as some trade bodies will accept ANYONE without carrying out any checks so long as they pay the fee
- Do they ask for a large deposit upon placing the order? Anything above 10% is unreasonable and risky for you in our opinion. The remaining payments schedule should then be over the course of the build so you see what you’re getting before you pay up.
- Do they employ their own staff? Some companies (particularly those who offer a ‘National’ Installation service) employ foreign labour as they are cheap and will happily use sub-standard accommodation whilst working away to save money. They are usually on a ‘Job and Finish’ arrangement which means the quicker they get yours done the quicker they get paid and can move on. Remember, these people have no vested interest in the long term interests of the business. Or in you for that matter. So, as long as everything looks alright when they are done, they can get customer sign-off, get paid and move on. In this situation, corner cutting is rife, as they are all too eager to get finished and start the next job, and thereby make more money.
- Do they show videos and photographs of genuine customers talking about their experiences on their website? Rogue Traders are unlikely to have many, if any of these - and it’s usually easy to spot ‘staged’ shots or videos of their friends or relatives. Remember - the objective of a Rogue Trader is to hide their true identity - they don't want you knocking on their door anytime soon..
- How are customer reviews presented? If it’s a short paragraph from ‘Mr G in Warrington who says they are great’ then that could easily be fake, as can a lot of these on-line reviews from Feefo or such like. Remember, there are lots of companies out there who will generate fake company reviews subject to a small fee.
- Do they show detailed ‘Case Studies’ on the website? These are much more likely to be genuine particularly if supported by customer photos showing them happy with their new room and better still, videos with customers talking through their experiences.
- Have they won Awards? There is a lot of time and effort required in entering and winning awards. Plus the company that has these has a vested interest in its own longevity. Rogue Traders don’t win Awards...
- Are they ‘Trading Standards Approved? It is very difficult to get this approval as Trading Standards carry out thorough checks of any business listed and also carry out annual audits. Rogue Traders cannot get registered with Trading Standards...
- Are the building specifications clear and detailed? You need to know what you’re getting for your money as things can look similar on the outside but the beggar is in the detail. A garden building is not just about what you see. It’s about what’s hidden inside, underneath, in the base, the walls, and the roof, that makes it rot or fail in 5-10yrs, or last a lifetime. It’s important that the foundations are built correctly and solid, that the Roof voids are ventilated, that the Roof timbers are engineered for snow loadings and a host of other crucial details. It’s easy to make it look good on the surface inside and out, but what’s in between matters far more when it’s Built to Last in excess of 30yrs.
- Do they use SIPs Panels? The main benefit of SIPs panels is that they are a quick way to build a garden room, so installers love them. Three days on-site instead of seven? They also slightly improve the U-Values. However, the big problem is they don’t breathe, they lock in moist air and the building rots from the inside out. Yes, SIPs are used by large House Builders, but they have to work to Building Regs and install proper air circulation and extraction systems to avoid these problems. Garden room companies don't do this because its impractical and expensive. Some fit an extractor fan and say keep a window open (!) but most don’t even do that..be warned!
**Rubicon Garden Rooms are Trading Standards approved - click on the link for more details:**
We primarily operate across the Chester, Cheshire, Mold, Buckley, Wrexham, Rossett, Wirral, Deeside, Flintshire, Denbighshire, North Wales, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Conway, Manchester, Stockport, Altrincham, Macclesfield, Lancashire, Liverpool, St Helens, Warrington, Birkenhead, West Kirby, Ellesmere Port, North West, Prestbury, Crewe, Nantwich, Preston, Malpas, Frodsham, Helsby, Heswall, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, and Shropshire areas, but welcome enquiries from other areas within 70 miles of our Deeside base.