I’m having problems with a builder I employed to build a kitchen extension to our house. The foundations are laid, and he’s knocked through the back wall - the back of our house is now a tarpaulin sheet. We paid an initial deposit upfront, and then two further amounts in cash for materials. He’s now asked for more money - but I’d like to see more work done first. We had a bit of a row, and he hasn’t turned up for the last two days. What should I do next?

There are various things you can do . The Citizens Advice consumer service (03454 04 05 06) is a good first port of call. 

If you think your relationship with the builder can be salvaged and you’d like him to finish the work, you can try to sit down with him and agree - in writing - a schedule of works and payments you’re both happy with. 

This written contract, if you don’t have one already, should cover exactly what you’re paying for and everything you’ve agreed on, like timings, payments, who will pay for materials and subcontractors. If you pay any future installments by credit card rather than cash you’ll also benefit from extra protection from the card provider. It’s a good idea to take photos as the work progresses and keep copies of your communications and any receipts.

If you feel the situation with that trader can’t continue you can complain in writing to him or his company and ask for some money back. If you believe the work is substandard you can report problems to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service.  If he’s a member of a trade association they also might be able to help.

If that doesn’t work, look for an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme - this is an independent third party who can help you to reach a compromise. The trader may already be a member of a scheme. If not, they should provide you with the name of a certified scheme and say if they are willing to use it. 

You can get free confidential advice from Citizens Advice Cheshire West  by visiting your local office in Northwich, Chester or Winsford Monday to Friday 9am and 4pm, and in Ellesmere Port  Monday to Friday 9am - 2pm.  No appointment is necessary.  Or, phone 03445 76 61 11 Monday to Friday 10am-4pm. 

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