Council's advice for anyone thinking about home improvements

16 April 2018

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standards officers are urging residents to do their homework if they are considering home improvements this spring.

Now the warmer weather is here many people may be thinking of having building work, renovations or repairs done on their home.

Unfortunately, building scams, and their victims, are often featured on the news and in television programmes – tales of people who employ so-called “cowboy builders” to improve their homes, or carry out repairs, only to end up with a sub-standard or incomplete job that ends up costing more than they thought…and thousands more to correct.

Trading Standards officers in the Council’s Regulatory Services Team offer the following tips for anyone thinking of having work done on their home:
  • Compare quotes - always get two, or ideally three, written quotes for the work you need. Remember a quote is a fixed price and should not vary, but the final cost can vary from an estimate Any variation from an estimated price should be within approximately 10% of the price initially given. 
  • Make the first move - make sure it is you who approaches the company first, never do business with anyone who knocks on your door offering their services. 
  • Do your research – talk to family, friends and neighbours to get recommendations for companies who have done a good job for them. 
  • Pay only a small deposit – you should only be expected to pay a deposit of no more than 10% of the total cost of your work. 
  • Too good to be true? – if anyone knocks on your door offering grants, do your homework and find out if they are telling the truth and if they are really available. Don’t just accept what you’ve been told. A legitimate grant scheme would never expect to receive an upfront payment in return for the grant. 
Recently in Chester Crown Court, three people were sentenced to a total of almost 10 years imprisonment for their roles in a home improvement fraud. The three operated a business which advertised that ‘grants’ were available from the ‘Energy Saving Fund’ to support homeowners to undertake renovations. Neither the grants nor the fund existed.

The Council’s Director of Place Operations, Maria Byrne said: “These tips should help you save time, money and stress when you’re preparing to get building work, renovations or repairs done on your property.

“Please follow the advice of our Trading Standards officers and don’t get caught out.”

If you think you have been the victim of a scam you can report it to your local Citizen’s Advice 03454 040506. They will pass the details on to the relevant Local Authority for investigation if necessary.
 

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