With the impending budget for citizens of the UK only a few weeks away, there is already a buzz going around that the Chancellor will be squeezing UK consumers even tighter.  There is talk of a proposed scrape of additional duty on diesel, which seems to be “heading south for the winter”.  Consumers will be left having to dig even deeper to survive daily with the ever increasing high cost of living which does not seem to have time of easing down. Although this is the case, our homes still remains our pride and joy, after all it is the biggest asset that one will ever own in their lifetime as our homes seem to appreciate in value instead of depreciate.  As a home-owner, there will come a day when you decide to renovate your property after years of sacrifice and saving, you have managed to scrap enough money together to finally build that extension or do some internal work done. Before you decide to call in the builders, be careful in your selection because there are untrustworthy people around who will use to their advantage and sadly your disadvantage the current economic climate in order to swindle hard working people like yourselves out of your money.  They often do this by giving you a very ridiculously low price which because you are gullible and you are trying to save as much as possible, would think that you are getting a bargain for a job which would have cost you a bit higher the amount from other builders.  Always be cautious of something that seems too good to be true because in the long run, you may end up having to pay another builder to have the work done.  Another thing to watch out for from these cowboy builders, is asking for too many stage payments or they may have their business name as one thing but ask for cheques to be written out to someone else, which should ring alarm bells.   I am not saying that anything is wrong with stage payments, but for most reputable builders, they normally request a portion of the total build cost as a deposit and the rest on completion or they request stage payments in four parts.  The more stage payments the better as it protects you the consumer and the builder as well especially if you have never worked with each other before.  There are, however, those cowboys who wants majority or sometimes all the money up front before their tools have even left their work van.  These are the type of people you do want to do any type of work for you.  Always ensure that you keep a close eye on your spending because if you are not careful, you will be paying more than what was agreed. As good business practice, always have everything in writing because this could be used against such a builder if every the need arise because although an oral contract is accepted, sometimes in these type of situations it would be best to have something in writing.  It is wise to obtain at least three different quotations and NOT estimates.  This is because a quotation is more precise whereas an estimate is basically a rough idea and as we all know, these cowboys will be saying that this and that needs to be done especially if they think that you have no idea about what is required when renovating your home.  Once you have chosen the individual or company to carry out the renovation, ask them for references of previous customers and their telephone numbers.  Do not accept written references because for all you know, these could be written by them or their family.  If at all possible try and inspect previous work as well.  I know this is a lot to do, but it will save you a lot of heartache in the long run if you do your homework properly, after all you are entrusting someone with thousands of pounds of your hard earned money to do a good job, which may bring additional value to your property. Always inspect any work that is being done at your home, at the end of the day you are the one who will have to live with it in the long run.  I am sure that at some point or another, you may have seen programs on the television about these type of people and the very unprofessional jobs that they do, which leaves consumers disheartened that all their hard saving have or is about to go down the drain.