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


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.

BC

Bristol

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.

TT

London

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: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk. 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.

www.moneyagonyaunt.com

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

    £18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

    ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

    £60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

    Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

    £60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

    Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

    £27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album