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Don’t Get Hammered By Unreasonable Building Work Charges – 08/08/2007

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service is urging consumers to be vigilant when paying for building or home improvement work.

It can sometimes be difficult to know if the charges quoted or services provided by a company or contractor are reasonable. Stephen Thompson, Manager with Trading Standards’ consumer complaint helpline, Domain Scams, therefore offers advice on the dos and don’ts of paying for such labour in your home.

Stephen said: “Before getting any building work done, you should seek a written quotation and contract, agreeing payment arrangements and start/finish dates.

“Be suspicious if you are suddenly being charged for extra expenses. If you have agreed a price beforehand, you should not have to pay for ‘extras’. Sometimes unexpected extra work will be needed, but agree the additional costs in writing before any extra work starts.”

Trading Standards also advises against paying large deposits and warns consumers never to pay the total cost upfront.

Stephen continues: “There is a risk that if you pay most or all of the cost up front that the trader will never return and you will have lost your money, while the work remains unfinished. In all cases, you should try to retain enough money to ensure the trader completes the job on time and to your satisfaction.

“If you have employed a company, do not pay the individual builder or other tradesman. Always pay the company. You should not make any final payment until you are satisfied the work has been carried out properly and meets the terms of the contract. Always ask for an invoice, including VAT, and a signed receipt for every payment made. Keep all paperwork in a safe place.

“If you’ve paid by credit card, or the work is being financed by a credit agreement arranged by the trader, the lender is jointly liable with the trader for any breach of contract if the work cost between £100 and £30,000. Tell the lender if there is a dispute.

“And finally, think carefully and take legal advice before you withhold payments as your future credit rating could be affected.”

1. For general consumer advice visit / or telephone Domain Scams on 0845 600 6262.

2. For media enquiries please contact Lesley Dempster in the DETI Press Office, telephone 028 9052 9297 or 07866 847919.

3. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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