Homeowners in Swindon are falling prey to tricks by rogue builders as the number of fraud claims rises across the South West - with one worth over a whopping £420,000.

Trading Standards received more complaints from across the region last year about all types of building work, from roofing projects to home extensions and major renovations.

Swindon Borough Council is joining forces with Trading Standards South West to provide homeowners with advice and guidance which may help prevent them from fraudster tricks. The awareness week starts today and SBC will be hosting a 'Getting the builders in' presentation next month.

Tactics include fake online reviews, posts on social media sites and advertising on non-verified online platforms. Rogue builders have also been charging customers upfront and asking for more money for apparently increased material costs, according to the Trading Standards.

SBC's director of strategic development and growth, transport, planning and regulatory services Richard Bell said: “It is not surprising that the upward trend in home improvements since the pandemic has led to increased activity by rogue builders.

"Despite many complainants having done some due diligence before instructing works, this was not sufficient to protect them from the fraudsters.

“We hope that by raising awareness of building fraud, we will educate consumers, give them the confidence to make the right decisions and make it more difficult for fraudsters to operate.

"If any homeowner has concerns about a builder or tradesperson, they should always seek advice before agreeing to or paying for work.”

The awareness week will highlight the warning signs, show homeowners how to find a reputable builder, and advise what to do when things go wrong.

For more information on the week of action, advice documents and useful links, click here.

SBC's free one-hour 'Getting the builders in' workshop will take place on May 25 at 6pm. 

The session explains how building designs can be made to comply with planning and building regulations, offers tips on finding a good builder and how to make sure the building work delivers what homeowners want from their extension.