Consumer rights: My newly installed kitchen is a mess but the builders still want to be paid in full
How do you deal with a firm that did substandard work / Solicitor failed to spot a major property problem and homeowner now wants compensation
Sunday 17 October 2010
We just had a new kitchen installed and it's a mess. We bought all the units, and had a building firm to fit them, put in splash-back panels and redo the tiling.
The tiles are uneven; the units don't match in height, and the spaces between them are different widths. The boss of the building firm refuses to come out to look at it. Luckily we haven't paid him yet. Because we bought the units ourselves he didn't need money up front for materials, but he's demanding payment in full for the work done even though it's not satisfactory.
Before you go any further take photographs of all the snags you've identified. Then give him another chance. Set out all your complaints in writing and attach copies of your photos. Once he sees for himself that there really are faults to be addressed, he may take action. If there's still no response, check whether he's a member of a trade organisation which may have an arbitration scheme.
If not, get a second, and even a third, opinion. Be absolutely sure that you aren't expecting too high a standard. Ask another reputable firm(s) to look at the work and give you quote for putting everything right. Once you've got that, write to the builder again telling him that you've had a professional company in, and send a copy of the quote with a list of the faults it covers and the work that will be done. Ask him again to come out to have a look within a reasonable period of time – say, a week or, if you're feeling generous, two weeks. Tell him in the letter that if he doesn't do that and agree to put right the faults, you will have the second firm correct them and will pay this firm what remains of the money you originally agreed to pay him.
Keep calm, be reasonable and polite and keeps copies of all letters and emails and notes of all telephone conversations. It could come to the point where he sues you for the money he feels he's owed, so you must be able to prove to the judge that you really did have cause for complaint, behaved reasonably, got expert second opinions from reputable firms, gave him every opportunity to correct mistakes and tried to negotiate.
I've had a long and complicated problem over a flat I bought six years ago. We discovered when trying to remortgage that according to the deed we didn't own our own entrance; it belonged to the owner of the lower flat. Obviously, if that had been pointed out at the time, we'd have insisted on it being sorted. The other flat owner was as surprised as we were at the discovery and was very happy to have the deed varied to correct the problem. But my solicitor promised repeatedly to sort out the mess, eventually stopped returning my calls or answering letters, and as he's a one-man band we had to go to another firm of solicitors to get it resolved. I've ended up about £4,000 out of pocket. I don't like to complain about my original solicitor as he's been terrific over many years, but I feel this was his fault and I need compensation for the money I've lost and for all the time it has taken me.
You should complain directly to your solicitor before taking a complaint further, by writing to the designated complaints handler at the firm. However, in this case you've already tried to get responses and failed, so the next step is to contact the Legal Ombudsman by phone on 0300 555 0333, by letter to PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB or by email: email@example.com. There's more information on www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
The Legal Ombudsman is the independent ombudsman for all legal services and may deal with your complaint or pass it on the Solicitors Regulation Authority. There are levels of investigation that may be done depending on the seriousness of the situation and whether your solicitor complies with requests for information, files, documents, and so on. At worst, a solicitor's business can be closed down; he may be ordered to pay money back and he may be fined.
There is a difference between the money you have lost and compensation. Your solicitor could be ordered to pay you the amount of money you've lost and you may or may not be awarded some compensation on top. The Legal Ombudsman can order compensation to be paid but the Solicitors Regulation Authority can't. The important thing is the £4,000; compensation is icing on the cake.
However, even if your solicitor is ordered to pay you the money you've lost, there's the possibility he may not be able to pay up. There is a compensation fund for people who have lost out in some cases but you may not be eligible to apply. Talk to the Solicitors Regulation Authority about what happens if your solicitor can't or won't pay.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Mark Dampier: Woodford’s young companies could be the stars of the future
Money Insider: Help to Buy must be boosted by building
Weekly Money: Round-up of the personal finance stories you may have missed 13-17 October
The opera singer, the broadband delay and why customers aren’t divas if they expect a good service
How to start your own internet business
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
iJobs Money & Business
£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...
£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...
£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village