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If You Are Unhappy With Any Building Work

If you have issues with a tradesman, whether it's incomplete or sub-standard work in your house, it's helpful to know how to complain and what action you should take to resolve the issue.

Which wrote a very useful article on how to complain under these circumstances, you can read the full article At Which. Below is our interpretation of that article. 

review complain

This Is How To Complain

This outlines your rights and guides you through the process of resolving a trader disagreement.

  1. Talk to your Contactor
  2. Begin a structured complaint protocol.
  3. Use a scheme for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
  4. Attempt to recoup the costs.
  5. Tax Authorities should be contacted.
  6. Gather proof and submit an application for reimbursement.
  7. Take your case to the civil court

Talk To Your Contractor

In the first place, call the tradesman immediately and clear things up as soon as you become aware of an issue. Take notes and then follow up with a letter if you're going to reach them by phone.

The Consumer Rights Act went into effect on October 1, 2015. This extends to all vendors, including contractors, plumbers, decorators, and electricians. Products should be of acceptable standard, as defined, and suitable for their intended use.

If you can talk with both the dealer and company, whatever the case is, do so.

Explain the dilemma, how they can solve it, and a practical timeframe with which to do it as you meet with them.

Take notes of everything.

Try to do this in person rather than text, or convenient platforms, so everyone knows the conversion occurred.

Decide on a closing date.

Agree a timeframe by which they must finish the project; if they fail to meet that deadline, contact them again to agree a final deadline by which all the work must be completed; state clearly that if they fail to meet that deadline, you will have to hire someone else to finish the work and will be demanding back the costs from them; remember that when a trader only guarantees their work for a set period of time, the guarantee ends

If you find that the job was not completed to a fair standard once the warranty time has expired, a trader cannot argue against the complaint.

Obtain quotes from other dealers.

Include estimates from other traders for the job if possible while demanding that a trader correct their work.

This tells the trader how much money you'll want if they don't fix the problem; if they don't cooperate, tell them you'll take them to court if possible. You can even figure out if the trader or organization has a formal complaints process that you can follow.

Unfortunately, the majority of lone traders do not have one, many websites insist they must have one to be featured, such on Which or trusted trader.

Check your home insurance policy.

Your insurance policy could have a clause allowing you to clam against a trader in a court of law.. Pay attention to what is covered and what is not.


Is it possible for me to enlist the help of another tradesman to finish the job?

ONe out of every 5 complaints are completed by another company, accord to the Which magazine.

But be vigilant if you do this; if you wish to get the money back, you must first communicate with the trader and give them time to solve the problem themselves.


Is it acceptable for me to withhold funds?

Withholding money could help with negotiating in some cases, but we don't advocate it because it may not only have the opposite effect and place you in a deadlock, but it could also put you in violation of your contract.

It may also allow a trader to seek civil proceedings against you, putting you in a weakened situation if you were to go to court. Withholding money could even impact the credit ratings if you used the trader's or company's financing choice.

Use a scheme for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Merchants and companies are not obligated to be members of an ADR scheme or to use one for the purposes of your dispute, but they are required by law to refer you to an accredited scheme and decide whether or not they are able to use one.

ADR comes in a variety of forms:

  • Conciliation and consultation programs attempt to assist you and the trader in reaching an amicable agreement by discussing the issues. These are normally free and can be started by either you or the trader. They are taught to be objective.
  • An unbiased specialist in the area examines paper proof from both you and the dealer in adjudication and arbitration. The arbiter's ruling is generally legally binding, and you won't be able to appeal it later if you don't agree with it. Fees are sometimes charged for arbitration facilities.
  • Consumers have access to free solicitor facilities, but merchants do not. The trader is normally bound by a regulator's order, but only if the trader is a member of the scheme. If you disagree with the ruling, you will take it to court.

The Consumer Ombudsman handles grievances about home upkeep and renovation, so you may still look into any home-improvement-related issue at the Ombudsman Association.

Which one is it? Since Trustworthy Merchants has a partnership with the Dispute Resolution Information commissioner, all of our traders promise to use this service if you ever need it.

To learn how an inspectorate will assist you, whom they protect, how to contact them, and what to anticipate from a decision, read our complete guide to ombudsman resources.

Attempt to recoup the costs

Your credit card firm is jointly responsible if anything goes wrong if the work cost more than £100 but less than £30,000.


Giving a refund claim is another choice if you pay with a debit or prepaid card, or if the amount was over the Section 75 cap.

Since it isn't a legal requirement, banks must commit to responsibility, so it's worth investigating. From the moment you became aware of the problem before you file a lawsuit, you have 120 days.

The Financial Ombudsman

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is a non-profit organization that  If you paid with PayPal or agreed to a finance deal, you will be entitled to file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service and get your money back.

Our guide to the Financial Ombudsman Service explains how to file a lawsuit in detail.

Trading Standards could be contacted

If you're worried that the merchant isn't behaving legally, you should contact the local Trading Standards office. Several Trading Standards offices often have conciliation facilities. Although some Trading Standards offices authorize you to report disputes directly, others would need you to contact Citizens Advice.

National Trading Standards collects information from individual branches around the UK and collaborates with the police and Action Fraud to identify and respond to new risks.

When you report an issue, that doesn't mean you'll get a response right away. Trader cases are investigated alongside other offences, but depending on the seriousness of the case and available services, it could only be logged for future reference.

Time To Take Legal Action?

If neither of those options succeed, it might be time to pursue legal action.

The Ministry of Justice's Pre-Action Practice Direction Consider the proof you'll use to make your point if you go to court. Conduct lays out the actions concerned people must follow before going to court. You may need to get an unbiased opinion on the job, which may contain images of the faulty workmanship. Try to reach an agreement with the builder as to who should provide this report.

If at all practicable, there should be someone you both believe has the experience to determine the problems and make recommendations on how to resolve them.

If a new trader has finished the job, write to the original trader to request a refund and a detailed description of the work performed.

Take your case to the civil court

If they don't pay, you'll have to go to court and get the funds refunded, so if the sum is less than £10,000 in England and Wales, £5,000 in Scotland, and £3,000 in Northern Ireland, you'll be entitled using the civil claims court.

The civil court is a short and easy way to resolve issues with the courts; you don't need a lawyer, and the hearing itself is fairly casual. However, it can only be seen in extreme cases.

If you ever plan to go to small claims court, you will be asked if you wish to use the court's free Small Claims Mediation Service first. If it doesn't succeed, the matter will be taken to court for a hearing.

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