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Consumer advice and protection

Fair deal for home improvements

When you need work doing on your home there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and ensure that you get the best possible deal.

Finding someone to do the work

  • ask family, friends or neighbours if they can recommend someone
  • contact Trustmark, a scheme designed to help consumers find reliable tradesmen

Visit the Trustmark website (link opens in a new window)

  • be cautious of tradesmen knocking on your door or canvassing leaflets which come through your letterbox, particularly if they only give a telephone number for contact
  • don’t be afraid to ask the trader questions, for example -
    • can they supply references?
    • are they fully insured?
    • do they provide an insurance backed guarantee?
    • are they a member of a trade association?

Shop around

  • to make sure you get a good deal, ask at least three traders to give you a written quotation. An estimate is not the same as a quotation as the price could vary - it is an estimated cost whilst a quotation is generally the price you will pay
  • make sure each quote covers the same work
  • the quote should itemise the work you want doing, say how much it will cost, how long it will take, and how payment is to be made
  • remember the cheapest quote may not be the best one

Making the contract

  • make sure the information from the quote is included in the contract and that it also gives the start and finish dates
  • if the work is covered by a guarantee or insurance backed warranty make sure that you are given full details of what it covers
  • always read the contract carefully and seek advice if you have any concerns

Cancellation rights

  • don’t presume you are entitled to change your mind when you enter into a contract. In some situations the law does provide consumers with cancellation rights but this isn’t always the case. If you are unsure of your rights you can contact us.

Paying for the work

  • if you have to pay a deposit make sure it isn’t too large. Don’t be pressurised into paying the whole cost of the job upfront as it could effect your bargaining position if there are problems getting the trader to complete the work or rectify defects
  • if you are having major work done it may be reasonable to pay in stages. If you do this make sure the timing of these payments is in the contract
  • make sure you are happy with the work before you make the final payment
  • if you are asked to pay for additional work or materials ask the trader to justify this. Although unexpected work can arise any extra costs should be agreed before the work is done
  • make sure you get a receipt for every payment you make

Contact us

Trading Standards Advice
33 Witham

Tel: If you are a consumer please telephone 0345 404 0506
Text phone: 01482 300 349
Fax: 01482 615 572

We are open Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm, and Friday 9am to 4.30pm. Please note the trading standards office is not open to the public. If you have an enquiry please make this to trading standards by telephone, text phone, email or post.

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