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By Chris Brown

CEO, Hydrogard legal services


One in 10 who have home renovations aren't happy with the outcome

An improvement is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as ‘an occasion when something gets better or when you make it better’.  So, when you improve your home, you would expect to be making your house better through buying something new, upgrading something old or however you see fit. Unfortunately, though, due to variables outside of your control, you may not be as impressed with the outcome as you expected, and these issues may be more common than you would think.

A recent survey carried out by Which? Found that one in ten people who have home renovations are not happy with the outcome. The survey of 16,000 Which? UK members found that:

A quarter (27%) who had work carried out in the past two years told the consumer champion they found the process of selecting a trader difficult.

Among those surveyed who had renovations carried out, three in five (58%) said they could not find a trader they trusted, while one in six (17%) said they were not happy with the prices quoted.

Just under one in 10 (8%) respondents said they were not sure what type of work they needed when selecting a tradesman. This lack of transparency and knowledge about the industry means consumers may be vulnerable to shoddy work or being ripped off.

One in 10 (9%) who had work carried out in their home in the past two years said they were not satisfied with the outcome. Half of these consumers were unhappy with the quality of the service provided (50%), while a quarter (27%) said they felt overcharged.

A quarter (23%) said the trader did not perform the job as initially agreed and set out in the contract and a fifth (19%) said they did not complete the job at all. Of those who tried to resolve their issue, more than half (55%) said they found it difficult to do so. (Which? 2023)

While we are happy to hear that 9 in 10 people are happy with the work carried out, we are all too familiar with the 1. Even if you are happy with the work done, did you really need it doing? Or have you been mis sold a product? Spray foam insulation is currently a product being mis sold on a regular basis. A salesman will come to your house and tell you about how amazing the product is and how it will give you noticeable savings and then shortly after, they’ll install. You may initially be happy and looking forward to the prospect of savings however, have you checked in the roof? If not installed correctly, spray foam can cause catastrophic damage to the roof.

Spray foam will not only damage the roof, but it may also make the house unsellable. A recent article in The Times talks about the impact spray foam can have on the sale of a home. Moisture can get trapped against the rafters and rot them without you knowing. Surveyors also cannot inspect behind the foam and are unlikely to deem the home safe for new buyers or approve it for a mortgage/ equity release. This is all backed up by the recent guidance released from the Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The issue doesn’t just stop at spray foam though. The which? Article tells the story of a fitted kitchen, but it could also be solar panels, roof coating, double glazing and much more. It is important to not only seek help once there is an issue, but to protect yourself the best you can to avoid being caught out in the first place. Here are some top tips for keeping yourself safe regarding home improvements.

1. Do not let strangers into your home. 

While it may seem obvious to some, salesmen are specially trained into earning your trust and after a while, you may feel like you can let them in. This is where they will then try to scam you in the comfort of your own home. If someone is trying to come in unexpectedly to sell you something, ask for identification and check they work for a legitimate company. Remember you don’t have to let them in at all if you don’t want to and if they don’t go away or try to force their way in, phone the police immediately.

2. Do your research.

Make sure you know what you’re being sold. Salesmen will always upsell a product and emphasise the positives but will not always mention any negatives the product may have. If you’re unfamiliar or unclear about the product resist the pressure to buy on the spot. Do your own research whether that’s online or speaking to someone you trust to see if you really want or need the product.

3. Credit Cards

If you get scammed making a large purchase, a credit card offers some of the best protection you can get. If you pay at least £100 of the total amount on a credit card, you will have legal protection on the full amount up to £30,000. If you were to pay cash or cheque, you would not have this protection in place and there would be no legal comeback and the money would be gone. While using a credit card, it is important to spend responsibly and pay it back on time to prevent debt accumulating.

4. Video Doorbells

A relatively new piece of technology, a video doorbell allows you to see who is at your front door and with some brands you’ll be able to speak to the person without opening the door or even being home via an app on a smartphone. They are great for security as they will automatically start filming and notify you if it detects movement near your front door so you will have recorded evidence of any conversations occurring on your doorstep. Ring is the most popular brand of these doorbells, but other brands are available.


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