Disputes- Reasonable Compensation

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By Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director, QASSS

Dispute resolution and compensation must be very carefully managed by installers. In the first instance, before you get to compensation, there are normally 3 options initially made available to consumers, IF whatever has gone wrong IS down to the installer:

  1. Repairing a product for the consumer.
    E.g., chipped the cabinet on the kitchen install, and can be repaired seamlessly onsite.
  2. Replacing a product for the consumer.
    E.g., chipped the cabinet so badly that the cabinet will need to be replaced.
  3. Removing a product for the consumer.
    E.g., chipped the cabinet, and subsequently fallen out, so we will remove the cabinet entirely and offer a refund in full.

Granted not every case is as easy as this, but in general they should be the main outcomes, subject to both parties agreeing, where the fault does indeed lie with the installer.

If you do find yourself in a position where the kitchen or bathroom install has gone so wrong, and a family need to move out, then compensation may be the right gesture. In terms of what is reasonable is down to the installer and if the consumer agrees to it. Naturally, consumers will normally start quite high, with some installers simply accepting that proposal, or they counter with a lower offer. Below is a guide to some examples of where compensation may be sought:

  1. Loss of facilities to cook meals
  2. Loss of facilities to wash/shower/bath or loss of facilities to do laundry, wash dishes etc
  3. Unable to stay in the property
  4. Any damage to property
  5. Loss of earnings
  6. Any other financial losses as a result of the issues

In the case of loss of facilities to cook, wash, do laundry etc, it is typical that both parties will come to an agreement based on what both parties feel is fair/covers costs incurred. We have seen this enacted as low as £5.00 per day, up to £25.00 per day.

If the consumer is unable to remain in the property and needs to seek alternative accommodation, the compensation would usually be based on the hotel room rate and a general agreement between the two parties in advance, with receipts provided. It would be perfectly acceptable for an installer to object to someone staying in a high-end hotel when there is a reasonable hotel chain nearby.

Equally, it would be unacceptable for an installer to expect the affected party to downgrade to a inadequate temporary accommodation that does not meet their needs.

If a customer’s property is damaged by an installer during the installation, compensation would be based on an estimate provided by a third party, and the installer would be well placed to request estimates from more than one third party, particularly if the process is being driven by the consumer. Or another route to resolution would be the installer repairing the damage themselves at their own cost, provided both parties are in agreement and the expectations are clear and agreed in advance.

Loss of earning is always very subjective. Installers may want to use a day rate here, capped at somewhere between £50.00 – £100.00 but must proceed with caution as, due to the nature of home improvement projects, there is a higher chance of something going wrong versus other sector transactions. It’s important to have some strong contractual and warranty paperwork in place, limiting how much liability the installer is willing to take on so both parties are aware before the project begins.

Point 6 is very much based on what the installer is willing to compensate for. Compensation claims can grow arms and legs, so like Point 5, it’s important to ensure that the relevant paperwork is in place before commencing works, setting out how much liability you are willing to take on in the project, highlighting it upfront.


(Pictured: Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director, QASSS)

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