The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


How to Avoid Disputes with Tradesmen

In April 2008, a builder in Shoreham took the drastic step of demolishing his own work after a £15,000 bill for the conservatory and the front porch he had built for a customer had gone unpaid. It is rare for disputes between tradesmen and punters to get as ugly as this, but wherever large sums of money are involved emotions can run high. Customers want to know they are getting value for money and not being ripped off, the professionals want to know they will get paid for the work they have done. Daren Bush, who runs Plumbers Inc in Hastings, East Sussex, submitted a claim to the Small Claims Court after a £400 bill for work at a local riding school went unpaid: “I trusted the client to pay me after I’d bought the parts when in hindsight I should have asked for the money upfront.” It’s clear that both parties need to outline exactly what they expect before any work starts – the following is a short checklist of things to consider:


  • Customers should know their rights. Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, any home improvement work should be done using “reasonable care and skill” with materials that are “of satisfactory quality” and “fit for their purpose”. If you are unhappy with work done and can prove that it did not comply with these criteria you could have grounds for a claim
  • Get a written quote for the work before anything has been undertaken. “There are three ways you can do that,” says Daren. “One is for both parties to agree to a fixed quote for the entire cost of the work. A good tradesman will factor in any possible additional costs he may encounter into this so he doesn’t have to come back at the end and ask for more money. The second is to agree for the customer to pay for materials up front and then receive an invoice for labour afterwards. Or finally, some people prefer to get paid by the hour - but that is when things can get messy. I could think to myself that it will only take me a couple of hours to put a sink in, something unforeseen happens and I end up there all day. If I’ve told the customer it should only take a couple of hours that’s when a dispute can start.”
  • Make sure you have a contingency fund. Next to buying property, having work done on it is one of the biggest financial commitments you can make. Get a quote, but always be prepared for additional costs. If something genuinely does happen that requires your builders or plumber to do extra work you should be prepared to pay them.

For your address book:

  • Plumbers Inc – 07903 828383/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • For consumer rights –