6 Top Tips for problems with builders/ painters & decorators

paintProblem with a builder or painter decorator? Need to know what to do to resolve things? Follow these specific tips first when employing a builder or painter and decorators. But if it’s too late here’s what you can do:

1) Try to resolve the matter in person or over the ‘phone before formally writing if you have a complaint.

2) Give the trader an opportunity to remedy the work. If they refuse to do this or they fail to do it satisfactorily then you can take the matter further.

3) Ensure that you state that you retain your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so that you are still able to claim if necessary afterwards when you write to complain.

4) Should the trader not respond or not remedy the work, proceed with getting an independent report and 3 quotes.   Get the work done and write to the trader requesting this amount attaching the paperwork. You could attach a quote before the work is done to give the trader one last chance if you wish.

5) If the trader is a member of a trade association you can contact it and see if you are able to use a resolution scheme.

6) If all else fails and you have the evidence you can go the Small Claims Court. I took a builder to court (details in the book) and won.

Supply and fitting – your rights

The Defective Premises Act 1972 relates to work undertaken by builders, developers, surveyors and architects. “Defective” in legal terms means work causing the property to be unfit for habitation as a result of design, workmanship or materials. Improvement, small jobs and refurbishments are not covered by this Act but use the Consumer Rights Act 2015 instead.

What if you buy the kitchen and installation from the same company? The same principle applying to kitchen fitting also applies to other goods. You wouldn’t get a full refund on a Rolls Royce because the iPod dock didn’t work! So, it is possible that you won’t get a full refund when only part of the kitchen is messed up.

Should you be thinking about legal action against a company who provided and fitted anything at your property, be aware that a precedent was set in 1995. The case of Ruxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth. Ruxley built a swimming pool in Forsyth’s garden. The contract involved a diving area of 7 feet 6 inches in depth.Once finished it was only 6 feet 9 inches deep but it was safe and the pool value was not affected. Forsyth wanted the pool demolished and rebuilt, at an estimated additional cost of £21,540.

The judge rejected the “cost of cure” damages, ruling that it was unreasonable but awarded “loss of amenity damages” of £2,500. The court of appeal then ruled that Forsyth should be put back into the position he was in before the pool was built.

Ruxley then appealed to the House of Lords. Lord Mustill’s ruling on the matter concluded that one must look to ‘the loss truly suffered by the promisee’ and reverted back to the award of £2,500.

This means therefore that if you have a poorly-made kitchen you are unlikely to get a full refund if it is still usable!

New houses

The Consumer Code for Homebuilders is an industry-led code of conduct for builders, which was developed to make the home buying process fairer and more transparent for purchasers and is adopted by the main warranty providers. The Code consists of requirements and principles that home builders must meet in their marketing and selling of homes and their after-sales customer service. As part of this code warranty providers must provide a complaint procedure. There is a dispute resolution scheme to deal with complaints within two years of buying a home, if builders don’t comply with the code. The scheme can award up to £15,000.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

You can find numerous template letters, advice, consumer laws and tips for complaining to traders and more in the best-selling book GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

5 Top Tips to prevent builders/painters/decorators problems

paint

Try to prevent many of the problems which arise with builders before using one.

1) Get 3 quotes and describe the job you need in detail.

2) Discuss the length of time the job will take. A rough price is an estimate and a fixed price a quote. If you don’t agree a price then the  Consumer Rights Act 2015 dictates that you are entitled to a “reasonable price”. That of course depends on the job and could be difficult to quantify, so always get a price agreed.

3) If it’s a large job get a contract drawn up. The Defective Premises Act 1972 provides a claimant with 6 years from the completion of the building work to make a claim if they consider the building to be defective. It relates to work undertaken by builders, developers, surveyors, architects etc. “Defective” is limited to work causing the property to be unfit for human habitation as a result of design, workmanship or materials. Improvement, small jobs and refurbishments are not covered by the Act but for services prior to October 1st 2015 you are covered by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 which entitle you to work undertaken with reasonable skill and care and within a reasonable length of time. For services after then, use the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

4) You can contact the Master Federation of Builders who will give practical advice and support to the general public on choosing and working with the right builder

5) The Painting and Decoration Association members either hold formal qualifications in painting and decorating (City & Guilds, NVQs etc.) or have a minimum of five years’ experience in the industry. They comply with the Association’s Code of Practice. In Scotland, the Scottish Decorators Federation members must comply with their Code of Conduct.

Further help when using builders

Top tips for a stress-free building project an article I wrote for Moneywise which gives further detail for preventing problems and what to put in a contract etc.

If you do have problems, see 6 Top tips for problems with builders/painters/decorators use the tips to complain and of course you can

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!