10 May 2010
During the early part of the year, the Consumer Agency has received over 1,300 complaints regarding renovations. The best way to avoid problems is to prepare a detailed written agreement.
The Consumer Agency's consumer advisory services are being contacted more and more often with problems relating to renovations. By the end of April, 1,329 complaints were submitted on renovation work, which is more than a 30% increase on the previous year.
In addition to traditional renovation companies, plumbing and electrical installation companies have been the source of much trouble. Complaints have been submitted on kitchen and bathroom renovations, roof renovations, air source heat pumps and wastewater solutions.
In a typical case, the price information given beforehand has not been accurate and the final price has been a complete surprise to the customer. In addition, companies have, for example, charged consumers for more working hours than the company's worker has been on site or for additional work to which the consumer has not agreed. Complaints regarding delayed completion of renovations are also common.
Senior Consumer Advisor Anne Lemponen of the Vaasa Local Register Office advises consumers to prepare the work agreement carefully to avoid unnecessary problems.
"Write down in detail what the renovation includes and the estimated price of the work. If you are a complete layman in terms of renovation work, it is a good idea to enlist the help of an expert when preparing the agreement. It is also advisable to agree in advance what the procedure will be if shortcomings are found in work quality and the remedial measures are delayed. Otherwise, the likely outcome is that the agreement terms end up vague and the consumer does not know what he or she is ordering."
The consumer should also ensure that the renovation company is listed in the prepayment register. Domestic help credit can only be received for work that has been commissioned from a company listed in the register. Similarly, it is important to bear in mind that the Consumer Protection Act can be evoked only in situations in which the party performing the renovation is an entrepreneur and not simply employed by the orderer.
More information about consumer rights related to renovations can be found at the address Consumer Authority's web site. The page also contains a premade agreement template for small renovations as well as a complaint form.