Problems with your builder

Check your contract with the builder to see what scope you have for complaints. Use their complaints procedure first, and then escalate to their trade association complaints procedure (if they are a member). Finally, consider taking legal action or seeking mediation/arbitration.

Typical complaints and who is responsible

Builder’s responsibility

  • defects: things that do not work as intended
  • work not to specification: where work has not been completed as instructed
  • sloppy workmanship: it works but it looks bad, finish is rough
  • damage from work: was the builder negligent?
  • problem with materials
  • problem with sub-contractor chosen by the builder

Your responsibility

  • inadequate specification: you asked for the wrong thing (this can also sometimes be your architects’/surveyors’ responsibility)
  • not part of the job: a new problem
  • did you ask the builder to cut corners to keep costs down?
  • problem with sub-contractor chosen by you
Builders complaints procedure:
  • speak to your builder as soon as possible if you think things are not right and give them a chance to put things right – see difficult conversations for how to go about this
  • if your builder does not sort things out after being spoken to, put your complaint in writing: give evidence and examples, keep notes, photographs will be useful
  • if there are still problems, get further advice: depending on the problem, consult a solicitor, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards, Building Control, or Trade Association
Approved body/trade association complaints procedure
  • if the trade association agrees with you, the firm will be asked to put things right – they may also take disciplinary action against the firm
  • you may be charged for a full site inspection
  • if either you or the trade firm starts legal action, the complaints process will stop
  • if your complaint is not upheld, you can still take legal action or seek adjudication, mediation, arbitration or conciliation
Trustmark’s complaints procedure

If the firm is registered with Trustmark and the trade association or approved body has not followed their own complaints procedure properly, you can take up the case with Trustmark.

Next steps
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