Home improvements: How to avoid disaster on your house renovation | Personal Finance | Finance


Home improvements are a great way to add value to your home but can also become a nightmare

Yet every year tens of thousands of dodgy tradesmen make a hash of home improvements, leaving unhappy homeowners to sort out the mess.

New research exposes the scale of the misery inflicted on British households by slapdash builders.

Some have been left for weeks on end without windows, others have seen their newly laid patio sink into the soil, or watched aghast as waste water poured down their inner walls.

Big money is at stake, with one in five homeowners spending at least £11,000 each on home improvements in the last two years, according to Halifax, and bigger jobs costing much more.

The stress and disruption if things go wrong can be massive, so be prepared to fight for your rights to get a good job done.


Last year, more than 40,000 people contacted Citizens Advice for information on how to solve their home improvement woes.

Two thirds were complaining about sub-standard services, such as poor workmanship or jobs being completed late, with many desperately seeking information on their right to refunds and compensation.

Roofing work caused most problems, afflicting almost 5,000 householders including one who suffered thousands of pounds of water damage after their builder failed to complete the job.

Fitted kitchens sparked thousands of disputes, with one unhappy customer left without doors on their cupboards after the contractor did a runner.

Another homeowner was left with boardedup windows for 11 weeks during an extension build.

Plumbing and poorly laid driveways, patios and decking also numbered among the home improvements from hell.


Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says thousands found their homes in a worse state than before they started the work: “Many were left out of pocket and faced huge disruption to their lives.”

Prevention is the best cure, so if you are planning to hire someone to work on your home, seek references and recommendations from friends and family. Ask the contractor for examples of…

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