Shoddy Builders Cost Homeowners Billions

Thursday, 08 May 2014

A recent survey has found that homeowners spent an astonishing £1.9 billion on repairing the work of incompetent tradesman between March 2013 and March 2014 alone.

TrustMark, a new government-endorsed 'find a tradesman' scheme, commissioned the ComRes survey, which canvassed 2,678 British homeowners and 300 tradesmen to discover just how much work people had done to their home in the last 12 months. But rather than simply cataloguing the scale of repair and improvement works, the survey uncovered some worrying trends.

When it comes to choosing the right man, woman or company for the job, it seems that homeowners just don't know where to turn. 25% of respondents said that they didn't know where to find impartial information on tradesmen, 25% choose based on family recommendations, and a shocking 6% simply opt for the cheapest quote. If we scale up the results to represent the whole country, that equates to 1 million homes choosing on price alone.

Most of the tradesmen who responded (84%) believe that the tendency to look for the lowest price is the reason so many households are forced to fix botched jobs. Although we suspect it's equally important that 57% of those surveyed admitted that they don't bother checking their workmen's qualifications.

The trend is causing serious damage to homeowners' bank balances. To put that £1.9bn total into context, This Is Money calculated that it represents five times the amount that's claimed on home insurance following burglaries each year, and averages a cost of £600 per household.

What's also worrying is the number of people who have no idea where to turn when building work goes wrong. If you need to make a complaint, you can contact Citizens Advice for a referral to Trading Standards, or, if the tradesmen is a member of a trade association, they may have a dispute resolution scheme. Otherwise it's just a matter of arguing your case, documenting the evidence and, as a last resort, going through a small claims court.

Meanwhile, TrustMark aims to help homeowners by independently assessing everyone on their database so users can be confident of avoiding the cowboys; and some local authorities offer similar services, which can be found via Trading Standards.


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