Advice on Problems with Building Contractors

I’ve been saving up to have my kitchen redone, but
I’m a bit worried about it.

Last time I had any work done on the house, it took
more than double the time I thought it would and ended up costing me a

I’m looking for a different builder this time, but how will I know I can
trust them?

Here are some steps you should take when choosing a trader:

Find a Trading Standards ‘approved trader’ – use the internet to search for
one in your area or the Government’s approved trader scheme TrustMark.
 Get references or recommendations – ask people you know or ask the
person you hire for examples of work they’ve carried out in the past. Try to
avoid contractors who won’t give references – it’s a sign they could be
Find out if they are a current member of a trade body – trade bodies have
codes of practice and can help resolve problems if things go wrong, so check
your trader is a member. Ask who they’re registered with and then check the
trade body’s website.
Only use certified traders for gas and electrics – it’s dangerous to use
someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Check the Gas Safe Register
for a list of traders and use a registered electrician who can certify their own
work. When you’re having a kitchen fitted, it’s worth checking whether the
person you’ve hired will be doing the electrical or gas work themselves. If not,
check who they will be using and whether they’re registered.
Get a written quote – this is different to an estimate. A quote is legally binding
and the builder can’t change it without a good reason – for example, if you ask
for extra work to be done. Try to compare quotes from a number of
contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price.
Get a written contract – this should cover exactly what you’re paying for and
everything you’ve agreed on, like timings, payments, who will pay for
materials and subcontractors.
Think carefully about payment – opt to pay in stages rather than upfront.
Where possible, try to pay by card as this can afford you extra safeguards if
something goes wrong.
Keep copies of receipts – also keep your written contract as evidence, as
well as photos of any problems if they arise.


If you have a problem with a contractor, and you’re not sure what to do or where to
go, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline 0808 223 1133 or talk to South Lakes
Citizens Advice.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens
Advice on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing,
employment or any other problems.

South Lakes Citizens Advice, your local charity, is here for you.
How to access:
Call 015394 46464 – this is being staffed from 9:30 – 2pm
 Adviceline: 0808 2787 984
 email advice via our submission page on our website
 Help to Claim (Universal Support): 0800 144 8 444