It's a column and it's for opinion - this is the Opinion Column featuring a guest writer each time.

Here we welcome back Ken Tracey, who has lived in the Orpington area for more than 30 years, and wants to talk about tackling rogue traders.

If you've got an everyday bugbear you want to moan about, a topical issue to discuss or a local matter to highlight, you too could be one of our guest writers here on the Opinion Column. Email around 300 words on your chosen subject to editor

A neighbour of mine was upset by a visit from a stranger desperate to report that the chimney stack on her house was about to collapse.

This is a popular trick of the cowboy builder, inventing a life-threatening situation that is well out of the target’s sight or reach.

There was a happy ending because the lady closed her front door while viewing the ‘damage’ with the man, then returned indoors swiftly, without parting with any cash.

There are frequent reports of homeowners being overcharged for jobs, some that didn’t even need to be done. It pays to be alert and to keep a watchful eye on the vulnerable.

But are some homeowners asking for trouble? Most good tradesmen don’t have to go knocking on doors to get work, they’re inundated with it. So, the ‘knockers’ are suspect straight away.

Next, the homeowner can be attracted by ‘cash in hand’ deals, "Helps us both, mate. I don’t pay the tax and you save the VAT." So, the normally law-abiding Middle Englander allows a shady character the run of his home because, by fiddling the VAT, he’ll save 20 per cent on the job. He’ll probably also get a cheap quote to begin with, but the cowboys will rack up the price with creative ‘extras’.

The bona fide builders are often members of reputable trade associations or monitored by web-based organisations, but this is only voluntary.

What we want is compulsory vetting and registration of all builders by the government. They could then be identified instantly as registered tradesmen and armed with official ID.