How Do I Resolve a Dispute with my Builder or any other Tradesman?
Thursday 14th September 2017
If you have had any work carried out at your home and there is a problem which has been caused by the tradesman, you are entitled to get it put right or get some or all of your money back.
Ok firstly, let's look at what the law says (this info relates to contracts made after 1st October 2015) -
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that -
a) The trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.
b) Information that is spoken or written is binding where the consumer relies on it.
c) Where the price is not agreed beforehand, the service must be provided for a reasonable price.
d) Unless a particular timescale for performing the service is set out or agreed, the service must be carried out in a reasonable time.
If the service you have been provided doesn't satisfy these criteria, you're entitled to the following remedies:
1. The trader should either redo the element of the service that's inadequate, or perform the whole service again at no extra cost to you, within a reasonable time and without causing you significant inconvenience.
2. Or, in circumstances where the repeat performance is impossible, or can't be done within a reasonable time or without causing significant inconvenience, you can claim a price reduction. Depending on how severe the failings are, this could be up to 100% of the cost. The trader should refund you within 14 days of agreeing that you're entitled to a refund.
Regardless of the nature of the dispute, the first step towards sorting it out is always the same - you must communicate with the tradesman and try and come to an agreement as to how it will be resolved. Make sure you have all relevant information to hand e.g. receipts, photos, dates & times etc. It's a good idea to try and have a face-to-face or telephone conversation.
If the tradesman refuses to communicate with you or you cannot reach an agreement, the next step is to write a letter or email. In the letter you need to set out exactly what the problem is and what you are requesting in order to settle the matter. It is at this point that it is most important that you suggest mediation as a possible solution to any impasse should you not be able to reach an agreement.
The next step of course depends on the response -
If he agrees to discuss the matter, then happy days! Give it a go and see what happens. If you still cannot agree, then suggest that mediation will be the way forward. Any good mediator will be happy to have an initial conversation with both parties in order to explain how the process works, costs etc. They would also explain why mediation is necessary, effective and essential as a prerequisite to the initiation of any court proceedings.
Of course if all else fails, court action is an option. However, there seems to be universal agreement that the courts should only be used as a last resort as they are costly, slow, cumbersome and daunting. Rarely will either party come out the other end of the court process without some degree of regret and a big hole in their bank balance.