Hi there, when a person enters into a contract for work and materials, where the main focus is labour and skill, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that the work must be:
- Carried out with reasonable care and skill (to the same standard as any reasonably competent person in that trade or profession)
- Finished within a reasonable time (unless a specific time frame has been agreed)
- Provided at a reasonable cost (unless a specific price has been agreed)
In addition, any information exchanged in communications between the parties, whether written or verbal, is binding if the consumer relies on it. This will include quotations and any promises about timescales or the results to be achieved.
If there are problems with any of the above, the customer will have certain rights. In the event of delays, if the work has substantially gone over the agreed schedule or not been performed within a reasonable time, you can also ask for a price reduction to cover any financial losses or inconvenience caused as a result. If the work is incomplete and they refuse to work to the agreed schedules it is possible to get someone else to finish it off and charge the original trader for these additional costs.
In order to resolve any problems that have arisen, it is generally recommended that the following steps are followed:
- Collect all documents relating to the work (e.g. quote, contract, correspondence, etc.).
- Contact the trader and explain your problem. Ask them to return to fix the issues and set a reasonable time limit for them to respond (7 days is reasonable).
- In the meantime find out if the trader is a member of a trade association with a mediation service that can help resolve the complaint.
- If the matter is still not resolved, write to the trader repeating your complaint and how you would like them to resolve the issues. Say you are giving them a final time limit of 7 days to resolve the problem or you will have to consider taking legal proceedings to recover your losses and any additional costs.
- If the trader fails to respond or refuses to resolve the problem, you could potentially get a different trader to complete the work and consider suing the original trader for all or part of these extra costs. Remember that court is a last resort, however it can be a good negotiating tool because it shows you are serious about resolving this and may prompt the trader to reconsider their position.
- Finally, make sure that you send all correspondence by recorded delivery and keep copies.
If you wish to take the matter further and issue legal proceedings, assuming you will just be claiming financial compensation, you may issue your claim via the Court’s online portal at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.