Thousands seek help from Citizens Advice after home improvement nightmares

by | 17 October 2017 | Citizens Advice, Retford, Worksop

Weeks without windows, sinking patios and waste water pouring down walls are just some of the home improvement disasters people are reporting to Citizens Advice, the national charity has revealed.

The Citizens Advice consumer service helped people with 40,000 problems related to home maintenance and improvements last year, two thirds of which were about substandard services, such as jobs being completed late or poor workmanship.

As people make use of the summer to have work done on their homes, Citizens Advice reveals the top five most common building jobs which caused problems: roofing, fitted kitchens, fitted windows and doors, plumbers and driveways, patios and decking.

People contacted Citizens Advice wanting to know how to resolve their home improvement problems and their rights around refunds and compensation.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said:“Thousands of people are turning to Citizen Advice for help after bad building work leaves them with a home improvements nightmare.

“People trying to improve their homes are finding them in a worse state than before they started. Dealing with botched jobs and unfinished work means many are left out of pocket and face huge disruptions to their lives.

“When you’re looking to get building work done it’s important to get things in writing — such as quotes and contracts — so you can refer back to them if things go wrong, and keep copies of receipts so you can prove what you paid for a job.

“If you’ve had a problem with building work, and you’re not sure about your rights or what to do next, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.”

The charity is offering top tips on how to avoid problems when hiring someone to carry out work, and your rights if things do go wrong:

  • Get references or recommendations
  • Find out if they are a member of a trade body.
  • Get a written quote — not an estimate, and be clear about what the quote covers
  • Get a written contract
  • Keep copies of receipts and your written contract as evidence, as well as photos of any problems which arise.
  • What to do when things go wrong:
  • Ask the builders to fix the work if the work is not up to scratch or is unfinished.
  • Ask for some money back.
  • Complain in writing to the trader or their company, and check to see if they are a member of a trade association to see if they can help.
  • Look for an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme — If they still refuse to comply, you can consider taking them to county court- but be aware that you will need to pay fees.

For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Bassetlaw on their telephone service, 03444 111 444. A drop-in service is available at the Worksop office based in The Annexe, Queens Building, Potter Street, Worksop (next to the Savoy Cinema) on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.30am to 3.00pm and on Fridays from 9.30am to 1.00pm and at the Retford outreach office, 17b The Square, Retford on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.00am to 2.00pm.