Britons pay out billions for botched jobsShoddy workmen cost homeowners dear

05 September 2006

 
A row of terrace houses

All homes with 4 or more bedrooms will now need a HIP

Shoddy workmen have charged British homeowners more than £8 billion for botch jobs over the past two years, according to new research.

Direct Line Home Insurance estimates more than 15 million Britons have employed someone to carry out home improvements in the last two years at an average cost of almost £7,500.

But 7 per cent were unhappy with the completed work, and of those 14 per cent were stung by tradespeople not standing by a contract.
 

The Direct Line Home Insurance survey of nearly 2,500 people also found more than half are unaware that cash payers have the same legal rights as those paying by cheque or card.

This leaves them vulnerable to dodgy tradespeople who refuse to rectify faults once cash payment is made.

Approved network

Of the Britons who hired a botch job tradesperson, 11 per cent had to bring in someone else to sort out the problem and a similar number resorted to DIY to try and rectify the problems.

Carmel McCarthy of Direct Line Home Insurance said: 'Homeowners need to be aware of their rights when it comes to employing tradespeople and ensure that in the event that problems occur, they will be rectified quickly.

'The best approach is to hire a tradesperson from an approved network and always ensure that you ask for proof of work – either a receipt or a written guarantee.'

Anyone hiring tradespeople should:

  • Find out whether they have the expertise for the particular project
  • Check out their, references and any other aspects like work habits, with previous clients
  • Find out whether they want to be paid on completion or in stages
  • Don't pay for the work until it is completed to your satisfaction, but do expect to pay a deposit to cover the cost of materials
  • Get a time schedule and completion date in writing and state the standard of work required and on what basis either party should terminate the contract
  • Check what guarantees are being given and be clear about what the guarantee covers and whom it is underwritten by
  • Be realistic about costs as cut price jobs can lead to trouble further down the line
  • If you're paying by cash, remember that you have the same legal rights as those paying by cheque or credit card. Remind your builder of this in the event that they refuse to set right substandard work.

If you have a problem with a tradesman, take a look at our guide to making a complaint.