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Cowboy builders - goodies versus baddies

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Letters

The AJ's article, encouraging cowboy builders (26.4.01)was a disgrace! It should have carried a health warning suggesting that views expressed may not necessarily accord with those of the editor! What would Joe Public have made of the article? Does it suggest the profession does not support the introduction of the quality mark scheme?

The 'laddish' comments trivializing tax avoidance/fiddles, were of the type normally found in the red-top tabloids. A suggestion that cowboy builders are a conscientious bunch because their reputation and future business depends on it is baloney. Joe Public still uses yellow pages, without taking references etc. Builders with a bad reputation do still survive and thrive, particularly in the recent 'boom'.

It is not the government which initiated the request for better quality, it is the public. The government is only responding to overwhelming demand for improvement in an industry tarnished by the rogue minority to the detriment of the majority.

It is ridiculous to suggest that the industry can be 'self regulatory'. After years of bad workmanship and appalling customer service in much of the 'small works' sector, it plainly cannot. Most members of the public now almost expect poor work from our industry and are pleasantly surprised when they receive good service.Next, someone will be suggesting the 'architect' needs no quality control, code, training etc!

It is ironic that some builders dismiss the value of any form of quality control at a time when most businesses are striving to deliver better value service and demonstrate best practice to benefit all concerned, including themselves.

The quality mark should be grasped by small builders (and used as a marketing advantage).

Builders will be told to use it if they do not embrace it, so they may as well be proactive and work towards its implementation with some influence over its structure. Quality control is primarily for the benefit of the customer, not the builder, so it isn't going to go away.

Some builders suggest the cost of registration is too high.

This is rubbish, though costs have been further reduced as a sop to the whingers. The additional work attracted by a demonstration of commitment to quality will pay for the registration costs overnight.

Of course, clients can be their own worst enemy choosing minimum price over quality.

They also fail to grasp that most small builders have no design or specification knowledge and will only do as they have done before - good or bad. The architectural profession needs to explain to the public how all building work must be specified and designed by someone who knows what they are doing, and can prove it.

This will provide more work for designers and for the better builders.

Simon Pole, structural engineer, Wimbledon

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