When you hire a tradesperson to do a job, you expect the work they do to be good quality. While most home improvement jobs result in a finish everyone is happy with, sometimes people are left with something that doesn’t meet their expectations.
Establishing exactly when work doesn’t meet standards can be difficult, but sometimes the cases are clear cut – for example, if the work is obviously faulty, or a project can’t be signed off by a building regulations inspector.
This guide breaks down what you can do if you’re concerned with the quality of your tradesperson’s work.
How you proceed with a case where work isn’t up to scratch depends on exactly what the issue is. There are a few different situations people can find themselves in, including:
- The finished job isn’t what you expected it to be – whether it looks different from what you imagined, or isn’t quite what you asked for.
- The work appeared fine at the time but now you have a problem with it that has made you question the quality (for example you’ve noticed a leak).
- You’ve realised that the tradesperson used different or inferior materials to the ones you asked for or were promised.
- You weren’t issued with a certificate for work that you should get with certain jobs (such as installing new electrical circuits).
- Building Control didn’t inspect the project at the correct points and wasn’t able to sign off the work.
Is it just a matter of opinion?
Ask any two experienced builders to do the same job, and the chances are they will do it in two completely different ways.
While there are some strict requirements for certain jobs – especially when it comes to safety – some methods and techniques are simply best practice or convention. Often there is no “right” answer, and their approaches are a matter of preference and habit.
This means that when it comes to assessing work standards, it can be difficult to pin down exactly when work isn’t up to scratch, as a second opinion from another tradesperson can be just that – an opinion.
The key is determining if there are specific faults that mean the work isn’t substandard, and if those faults are down to poor workmanship.
Do you have a written quote?
If you’re unhappy with the finished result, having a detailed written quote for the work can help you reach an agreement with the tradesperson.
Our guide to quotes and contracts will show you how to get the most from them.
Detailed quotes should cover things like the specific materials that should be used, meaning you can ask the tradesperson to make the work right according to the quote if it seems that corners have been cut.
If the work is not how you expected, but nothing in the quote covers the issue, you can ask the tradesperson to make changes, but they may want to charge more if it involves redoing work or carrying out additional work.
If you’ve noticed a specific fault with the work, then you should raise it with the tradesperson – many will offer guarantees on their work and will be keen to rectify issues, especially if they know you intend to leave feedback about their work. Read our article on insurance and guarantees to see if this can help you.
What if work doesn’t meet regulations?
For bigger jobs, such as extensions or loft conversions which alter the structure of your home, the work will need to be inspected and signed off by the Building Control department of your local authority or an approved inspector, to ensure that it meets standards for safety and energy efficiency.
Similarly, jobs such as electrical work will need certification, which can be issued by the tradesperson who carries out the work as long as they are registered with a Competent Person Scheme.
If you are not given the correct certification, or if Building Control doesn’t approve the work, you should contact your tradesperson and insist that they make the work right.
In the case of missing certification, contact the scheme that your tradesperson belongs to, as their membership will depend on them abiding by their rules on conduct.
What if I can’t make contact or they refuse to put the work right?
If you are confident that the work is substandard and the tradesperson is unwilling to make it right or has broken off contact, then you may want to pursue a claim against them.
Any documentation you have will be helpful in the process of making a claim, particularly written quotes and contracts with your original tradesperson.
Retain any written correspondence such as emails and text messages, and make notes about what you discussed in phone calls and face to face conversations.
If the rectification work is such that you need to hire another tradesperson to put it right, make a record of all the costs incurred as this will form part of your claim.
If you hired your tradesperson through MyBuilder, our experienced customer service team can provide impartial advice on the options you can take to help you reach a satisfactory solution with your tradesperson.
You could also check if they are a member of any trade bodies that may also provide mediation services.
If you are unsuccessful, you may want to go forwards with a claim.
Making a claim
Making a civil claim should be the last resort if you have been unable to settle a financial dispute in any other way.
Before you start your claim, you should send the tradesperson what is known as a letter before claim or letter before action, a formal notice that lays out your claim and what you want in return, giving them a chance to respond before you initiate action.
For more details on writing a letter before action and making a claim, read our guide on deposits.