How to Spot and Avoid Rogue Electricians and Cowboy Builders

How to Spot and Avoid Rogue Electricians and Cowboy BuildersWe recently stumbled upon a great article put out by the AdviceGuide – self help from Citizens advice – concerning, Top tips on how to spot a cowboy builder. And this got us thinking: many people come in our showroom and purchase all kinds of electricals, and sometimes they ask us, Can you recommend a good electrician?

We have talked on the blog concerning using registered electricians, but in principle, there are a few ways to spot and avoid the rogue electricians and cowboy builders.

Top Tips on Spotting Rogue Electricians

You may not be able to check the background or the company of the electrician that approaches you, but there are some signs that can tell you whether he’s trustworthy and reliable.

These are some of the top tips on spotting and also avoiding the rogue electricians and the cowboy builders:

  • Watch out for the builders or electricians who give you an extremely cheap quote or estimate, or who insists very much that he would start the job right away. No matter how urgent the job may be, first you need to make sure the builder is trustworthy, he gives you a proper quote, and is even willing to estimate the job in writing.
  • Beware of the electricians that are not keen on giving you more details about their business (like the address, the landline number, other references from other jobs, etc). You may even go so far to check them out via the NICEIC website whether they are registered and approved. If you’re suspicious, you can visit “the wall of shame” and see if you find that electrician there…
  • It is very suspicious when a builder asks for money – whether the whole amount or a small advance – up front. They may say they need the money to buy the materials, etc but if they are a reliable builder, they should have enough funds to cover the initial costs. Also, make sure they do things exactly as they quote you, and if you need a VAT receipt, they should be able to give it to you.
  • If a builder claims he works for a company that has a good reputation, it doesn’t hurt if you double check that. Of course, if he arrives to you in an unmarked car / van, or if he doesn’t look and behave professionally, those should also be warning signs.

How to Avoid Cowboy Builders

It is not easy to spot or avoid this type of “cowboy builders” or “rogue electricians”. Sometimes they may insist, offer discounts, give you all kinds of promises, ask for a payment in advance, or even say, “I’ll do you a favor” or “I have some spare materials left over from a previous job, that’s why it’s so cheap!”

Whether you have a small project or a large project, it is good to take a written quote from them and muse over it for a day or two, while you check them out or ask around for a better quote.

Find your local registered electrical contractor - www.electricalsafetyregister.comYou can search for their name or company name online, or in websites like NICEIC, ESC, Electrical Safety Register, RatedPeople, MyBuilder, etc. The best way is to ask for a recommendation from your friends, family, your architect, co-workers, etc – people who already have had some electrical job done and are pleased with the electrician.

It is better to be slow and make an informed decision than to be quick in hiring someone and later be sorry!

This blog post is inspired from several article like: Top Tips on how to Spot a Cowboy Builder, Avoiding Cowboy Builders, and, Cracking down on cowboy builders. Picture credit:

Of course, you can always pay Sparks Direct a visit at our North London based showroom, where we will provide you with more informed advice on this matter.


  1. Hi,

    Good tips, thanks for sharing. I would also add, in case the ”electrician” is not working for a company authorized and well known, it is better to ask and certificates they hold to be sure that the person is authorized and has the knowledge needed to make the job.


  2. Great advise and good tips! It is very important to hire someone who isn’t rogue or a cowboy who will only jeopardize their work. Always hire someone carefully. Thanks for sharing this great info!

  3. This a very good read. It’s always very important to check that the electrician carrying out the work is a member of a competent persons scheme.

  4. Thank you for sharing the great article. People would be impressed to read about the above-mentioned article about the electrician in Romsey area specially.

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