15.4million households impacted by home improvement issues

More than two-thirds (62%) of homeowners have experienced issues with home improvements, according to dispute resolution experts Dispute Assist.

10 Jul, 23

More than two-thirds (62%) of homeowners have experienced issues with home improvements, according to dispute resolution experts Dispute Assist.

15.4million households impacted by home improvement disputes

It means 15.4million households across England and Wales have been affected, based on the number of households recorded in the 2021 Census.

Disputes between a customer and a home improvement business are often unnecessarily resolved in the courtroom, racking up bills and taking up time for both parties.

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In a recent study, including  200 home improvement contractors, Dispute Assist found 43% of tradespeople dedicate up to five hours per month to resolving complaints from customers.

Even more alarming is the fact that over one in 10 contractors (11%) spend more than 10 hours each month dealing with complaints.

It is also worrying to note 20% of tradespeople are currently facing a minimum of four customer disputes.

According to The Future of Disputes in Home Improvement report, more than two-thirds of consumer (67%) don’t know what alternative dispute resolution (ADR), half have never heard of ADR and only 9% of homeowners have used it to resolve a home improvement dispute.

Those who had previously filed a court claim against a contractor said they had tried alternative routes, with half resolving directly with the contractor (51%),

Nearly half had filed a complaint with the contractor’s trade association (47%), a third had applied for a refund with their payment provider (31%) and around a fifth lodged a complaint under the consumer credit act (17%).

A third had used ADR (33%), of which 93% found the experience positive and 73% said it had successfully resolved their dispute.

ADR may include mediation and conciliation, which involves a mediator facilitating a conversation between parties to reach a resolution or arbitration, which sees an independent arbitrator review the case and pass a legally-binding decision.

There is also expert determination, where an expert well-acquainted with the field of the dispute will review the case and provide a legally-binding ruling without offering either party any notes behind the decision in the interest of saving time and thus cost too.

This method can often obtain resolution in days rather than weeks, with the average time for a civil claim to get through the small claims court system currently standing at 51.2 weeks.

Managing director of Dispute Assist Ciarán Harkin commented on the  findings: “Many home improvement contractors take great pride in providing quality work and excellent customer service, but our data shows there are some in the industry causing huge headaches for their clients.

“When left in the lurch by a tradesperson, it seems many customers are unaware they can resolve their dispute without ever having to step foot in a courtroom.

“Alternative dispute resolution offers customers, and businesses, cheaper, quicker and less stressful resolutions to their disputes, allowing customers to get their houses in order and leaving businesses free to move on to their next jobs.

“Through ADR, the resolutions are often just as effective as a court ruling and they’re easier to access than many might think.”