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10 Surefire Ways Of Spotting A Cowboy Builder

10 Surefire Ways Of Spotting A Cowboy Builder

When you’re planning construction, you’ve got a lot on your mind – the last thing you want to worry about is whether your builder has skipped town or not. But that’s what happens to people every year at the hands of cowboy builders. These guys offer temptingly low costs and impossible promises, then leave behind disasters and unfinished jobs before getting out of dodge.

For those interested in protecting themselves from this unfortunate fate, there are signs to look out for. The following list will help you identify cowboy builders before they can squeeze your wallet.

1. They will be available immediately for work

An established business will have a fairly full schedule. If someone tells you he’s available for work tomorrow, be suspicious. Why isn’t he busy? Why doesn’t he have other customers to attend to first? It may mean he doesn’t have any customers. When you discuss scheduling with your builder, take the time to examine the dates presented to you. If the availability seems suspiciously convenient, it probably is.

2. They won’t have references to provide you with

A reputable builder can offer you names and addresses of previous customers; a cowboy builder will be reluctant to share that information with you, or refuse outright.

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Further, a reputable builder’s references will check out. Always be sure to call and visit the references provided. Ask to see the work the builder completed, as well as inquire into the quality and timeframe of the work. If you can’t get anyone to show you an example of a builder’s previous work, assume there is no good example.

3. They will provide an exceptionally cheap quote

When looking for a builder, you’re probably going to shop around a bit looking for quotes. Don’t go with the cheapest price – that may be a cowboy builder, whose charges have nothing to do with the cost of your proposed project and everything to do with how much they can swindle from you.

Make sure to ask for an itemized quote. In the UK, some financial institutions provide an online app that helps customers determine what the going rate is for a building job. This can help you ascertain whether your builder is lowballing you or overcharging. Materials and costs should be explained, and a pay schedule should be created to either pay in installments or upon completion of the work. If they ask you to pay upfront, find another builder.

4. They won’t have a registration or license to show you

Always ask your builder to show their credentials. Many countries have national registries or organizations that builders are required to register with in order to be legally recognized and licensed. Look into the registration your builder should have, then check to see if he does have it. If your builder tries to offer any reason for not having credentials, walk away. Whatever the reason is, it’s not good enough to put your own property in jeopardy.

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5. They won’t have a landline or address

A cowboy builder doesn’t lock himself down to any particular place as part of his strategy. If your builder can’t provide a landline number or a permanent address to contact, then he might have reason to stay under the radar. That’s not good news for you. Although landline numbers are declining in popularity, a lack of a business address is a big red flag.

6. They will ask you to pay in cash

Along with asking you to pay upfront, a cowboy builder will often ask for cash payments. This allows them to avoid paying taxes or registering the payment as income. It also prevents you from having a paper trail to prove that you’ve paid him. Never pay your builder in cash. A transaction with a paper trail is critical to protecting yourself in case of a shoddy or unfinished job, and provides you with the means to claim a refund.

7. They won’t have a clear timeframe for finishing the project

An experienced builder can give you a reasonable estimate for how much time your project will take, from beginning to end, including estimating what will be accomplished at what point.

If your builder won’t commit to a time frame or seems unsure or how long it will take him to complete a project, he either doesn’t have the experience to calculate it or isn’t intending to finish it. Get a timeframe in writing, and even after hiring your builder, remember to check the time frame to make sure that he’s following his own schedule.

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8. They don’t have a history

If you look up your builder online, you expect to find some indication of his presence and history. Past customers will have talked about their experiences, registration for his business will be available, and information about him will be online. If your builder has none of these, definitely be wary. They could be offline, but it’s unlikely that any reputable builder has no online presence to back up his work.

9. They won’t explain the work they’re doing to you

A decent builder will take the time to communicate with a client about project expectations and requirements. Be sure to talk to your builder about what exactly will be happening during the project. What materials will he use, how will he construct, what does he need to do, what variables are still present?

If your builder dismisses your questions, refuses to simplify explanations and generally resists being transparent about his building plans, you may be dealing with a cowboy builder who’s hiding behind jargon to mask his credentials or ill intentions. Red flag.

10. They will refuse to sign a contract

Never begin a medium to large project without a contract, and consider a contract for a small project as well. A contract will lay out all the terms of the project, including payment plans, construction plans and timelines. These are all critical to have in writing. A builder who’s reluctant to sign a contract is trying to protect himself, but not you.

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Contracts are mutually beneficial for customers and reputable builders. If your builder is afraid of contracts, he might just be a cowboy builder, and you should stay away.

Construction projects can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult to keep track of everything that can go wrong. You want to know your builder can handle his side of the job.

Featured photo credit: Dave Barker via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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