It can be daunting when deciding on who to trust to carry out expensive and intricate work on your home.
For the victims of rogue and cowboy builders, the wrong decision could result in shoddy or unnecessary work being carried out for a fee that could break your bank balance.
Here is a rundown of the worst rogue builders in Wales who defrauded and conned their customers out of hundreds and thousands of pounds.
Robert Hayel, 46, from Cardiff, took tens of thousands of pounds from his customers, promising them “prompt and high quality work” -and then left their homes in ruins.
Among his victims was a doctor who feared her home would collapse when cracks appeared in the walls and a pregnant woman’s house who had her boiler ripped out by the defendant but he never returned.
In total there was eight victims in Bridgend, Cardiff, Newport and Penarth between January 2014 and March 2016.
A building surveyor said it was “easily the worst workmanship” he had ever seen.
Hayel, of from Marguerites Way, St Fagans, admitted two counts of participating in a fraudulent business and was sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment this year.
Roofer Thomas Mochan, 43, overcharged elderly and vulnerable women by thousands of pounds for his shoddy work.
He also stole a safe from a 90-year-old containing more than £12,000.
The defendant cold-called his victims at their homes in Bridgend and convinced them work needed to be done when it wasn’t necessary.
He also overcharged his clients and in one case kept increasing the price of the job until it reached £27,000.
Mochan, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and one count of theft, and was sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment this year.
Alan Lee, 46, from Cardiff, pressured a vulnerable pensioner into paying more than £20,000 for unnecessary work.
He made persistent visits to an elderly widow’s house with the aim of convincing her the entire rood of her property would need replacing.
The defendant was paid a total of £21,950 for work that was later valued between £1,500 and £2,000.
Cardiff Crown Court heard the widow was “devastated” by the incident and had been “sick with worry” after being taken in by the fraud.
Lee, of Wentloog Road, Rumney, pleaded guilty to fraud and sentenced this year to years imprisonment suspended for two years.
Ian Cottle, 55, from Barry, made nearly £30,000 from customers he left with cement-stained windows, peeling paint and falling down walls.
Described as having a “blatant disregard for safety”, Cottle cost victims thousands of pounds to correct shoddy work carried out by his company ACE Plastering and Building Services Ltd.
The defendant claimed he was City and Guilds qualified, as well as being fully insured – which was not true.
He later pleaded guilty to 14 counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Cottle, of Brook Street, was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment in 2017.
Steven Jones and Bedwyr Roberts
Steven Jones, 41, from Anglesey, and Bedwyr Roberts, 37, from Bangor, conned elderly and vulnerable people into paying huge bills for work.
One victim was swindled out of £656,000 life savings to pay for unnecessary and substandard roofing work between 2009 and 2015.
The second victim was defrauded out of £60,900 and a third victim lost £1,000 to the defendants.
In 2017, Jones, of Maeshyfryd Road, admitted fraud and was jailed for eight years, and Roberts, of Queens Avenue, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for six years.
Marc Foley, 51, from Cardiff, cost one family more than £50,000 out of pocket after they were forced to fork out to put his work right.
He carried out work on a loft conversion at the home of Diane McDonald, who considered Foley a friend, but leaks started to appear around a chimney.
Assessments by Cardiff Council’s building control officers and an independent structural survey revealed Foley’s work did not meet required standards.
Having paid out £25,000 for the original work, Ms McDonald had to pay a further £27,000 to correct the substandard finish.
Foley, of Allensbank Road, admitted three counts of unfair commercial practice and was jailed for four months, in 2017.
Leonard Price, 49, from Pontypool, used photographs of projects from other companies and falsified ratings and credentials to attract customers.
He carried out work at a property in Cwmfelinfach, Caerphilly, for £22,000 but the homeowner had to pay a further £15,000 to redo the work, which included adapting a basement into a suitable living space, building a staircase, damp-proofing and leak-proofing the basement, and installing exterior decking.
The damage caused by Price included putting concrete and rubble into a manhole in the basement which turned out to be the sewage system. This caused sewage to back up into the house’s plumbing.
Price, of Rose Cottages, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of engaging in commercially misleading practice, three counts of fraud, and one count of undertaking a deceptive practice.
He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment last year.
Damon Owens, 35, from Crosskeys, Caerphilly, operated under a variety of names and posted fake reviews of his businesses online.
He charged one family almost £17,000 for refurbishment work on their house – but in fact only carried out a small amount of demolition and digging work worth just a couple of hundred pounds.
The defendant also charged a pensioner £240 to fix a simple leak in her living room and failed to supply her with the proper paperwork.
At his sentencing, the defendant lied to the court by by claiming he was shot in the head while serving as a Royal Marine in Bosnia.
Owens, of Silver Street, pleaded guilty to 13 offences under consumer protection legislation and was jailed for 10 months last year.
Mark Jenkins, 51, from Caerphilly, defrauded more than £1m from customers in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and areas of Bristol and north Somerset over a two year period.
The gambling addict would overcharge customers, demand large sums up front as deposits and regularly fail to complete work.
He left customers half-finished renovations, often taking out loans to complete work, and suffering increased stress as well as health problems.
In total, Jenkins, of Drum Tower View, conned his victims out of £1.4m.
He pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and was jailed for five years in 2014.
Lee Slocombe, 37, from Pontypridd, defrauded his victims out of £43,000 after asking for more money to complete his jobs.
But he never paid back the cash leaving families out of pocket – and with homes which needed extensive renovation.
Slocombe was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 2015.
The defendant pleaded guilty to defrauding one family of £26,000, another of £13,450 and a third of £4,000.