Homes suffer as owners keep builders at bay

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The Independent Online
WORRIES about the likely cost of housing repairs and mistrust of builders and surveyors are the main reasons why home owners put off tackling essential work on their properties, according to a new report.

Most home owners identify routine repairs that are needed on their property, says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Yet they often miss more complex problems or delay too long before taking action.

The report, based on two academic studies - one in Bristol, Leicester and London, the other in Scotland - found that owners rarely sought advice from surveyors. Instead they tended to diagnose the problem themselves or ask relatives or friends. Experience of the limited valuation surveys required by mortgage lenders had left some with the impression that a surveyor's report would be expensive and uninformative. Owners mentioned bad experiences with "cowboy" builders including delays, bad workmanship and unreliable estimates. First-time buyers, recent movers and single women were especially unlikely to have dependable contacts in the building trade.

The authors of the reportcalled for the Government and mortgage lenders to raise awareness of the importance of keeping homes in good repair. They also recommend that it should be made easier to find a trustworthy builder - in the short-term by a recommendation scheme for the industry and in the long-term by government and the building industry working together to raise standards.

`Make do and mend: Explaining home owners' approaches to repair and maintenance' is available from Biblios Publishers' Distribution Services, Star Road, Partridge Green, West Sussex RH13 8LD price pounds 11.95 plus pounds 2 p&p.