14:46 PM, 5th August 2011, About 12 years ago
More than 2,000 householders a day have a row with builders and decorators – with many forced to turn to the courts or trade bodies to help them resolve their problems.
According to the latest findings from a Which? survey, 2.4 million people have complained about tradesmen in the past three years.
To solve the problem, Which? suggests householders and tradespeople should enter in to a clear, written agreement before any work starts.
The contract should cover expected costs, start and completion dates and what to do in the event of a dispute.
The consumer champion disclosed poor quality work triggered most arguments.
Other common complaints included traders failing to turn up on time – or at all – delays in completing work and untidy working.
Payment was also an issue with many tradespeople failing to give out written quotes before starting work – while 4%, which amounts to 100,000 people, were asked to pay the full price up-front.
Disgruntled householders also reckoned disputes with builders left them paying out more than expected – with 25% calculating they were owed around £500, while 10% claiming their bill left them more than £1,000 out-of-pocket.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “With the cost of living climbing, many people are spending money on home improvements rather than moving house. Being left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after a bad experience with a builder can be a huge blow for families already feeling the pinch.
“To avoid problems you should always have a written agreement between you and the trader. And it’s important to do your homework – make sure you get several quotes before deciding who to use, choose a recommended trader and check they are a member of a professional body.”
Most disputes were resolved by discussing the problem – but a third of householders had to go to a professional body or the courts.