Poor Quality Workmanship Continues To Hold Back The Home Improvement Sector

In 2021 we heard about a lot of the problems impacting the home improvement sector. Some could be seen as ‘good’ problems, with record levels of demand hitting the UK as a result of those buying behaviours moving from holidays to home improvement.

The UK RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector is worth approximately £52.3bn to the UK economy. Private housing RMI is expected to grow by 3-4% per year up to 2025.

In March 2021, we saw the highest private RMI spend for over a decade. MyBuilder.com is receiving more than 150,000 job requests from families each month, a rate it says is ‘significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels’.

Mortgage broker at Mojo Mortgages says compared to 2019, 2021 remortgage applications for home improvements were up 174%.

As those good problems continue to rise, we could see the issues unfold in trying to deliver that record level of demand.

 

Record Levels of Skill Shortages

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of Trade Body, the Federation of Master Builders, stated that ‘over half of small, local builders can’t find skilled tradespeople’. We could see builders demanding fees up to £2,000.00 to reserve their services six months in advance.

It is estimated that the UK will need an extra 1.25m trade workers by 2030, including 305,000 qualified trade apprentices, something very much recognised by The British Institute of Kitchen and Bathroom Installation (BiKKBI), and their CEO, Damian Walters.

Listen to this… one-fifth of construction trade workers aged 55 or over will retire before 2030. Given that there is around 1.2m RMI companies in the UK, that is the potential for a lot of skill to leave the sector.

 

Record Levels of Material Shortages

So what has caused it. Take your pick:

  • COVID pandemic
  • Brexit
  • Demand surge
  • Shortages in production
  • Shortages in haulage
  • The Suez Canal blockage.

As a result, 82% of traders are reporting material price increases. Not good for the UK consumer or UK purchasing a business.

 

A different view

As a result of the above, the UK is starting to witness record levels of detriment. But is it actually a result of the above, or are some older problems still existing?

QASSS currently provide outsourced complaints management, along with independent alternative dispute resolution and claims management services. As a result, we see a lot of what is happening at the ‘back end’. 2021 was a tough year for sure, but looking at the dispute volumes and categories coming through, we can see that still at the top of the charts are:

In fact, when it came to disputes, there were very few that could be attributed directly to the two main challenges are highlighted above. This is important to note so that as an industry, we don’t lose sight of the issues that still sit there, and it is those issues that are inviting many disruptors into the market.

If you are interested in learning more or want to gain more insight from our anonymised data sets, please email us at [email protected]

What exactly is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a service that is used to resolve escalated complaints, or disputes, between customers and businesses, using several resolution management techniques with the intention to resolve before the need for court proceedings.

The service helps the customer and business resolve a dispute by finding a fair resolution that satisfies both parties.

So basically, an independent peacekeeper, to find a way for both sides to agree, or in some cases, make a decision on a suitable outcome for both parties.

Understanding the differences in services

So, this is where the industry jargon kicks in. All the below are forms of ADR, with some organisations offering some if not all the services:

Mediation

In simple terms, this is an independent professional, trained to ask both parties the right questions to support both parties in coming up with an acceptable resolution on their own. It is not legally binding, but more of a ‘soft’ ADR process to challenge what each party is saying, and to see if they can reach compromise or conclusion together. The person providing this service does not necessarily need to have experience in your industry. At QASSS, we ensure that mediators only work on home improvement and renewable energy disputes, building up their working knowledge, allowing for faster, better-quality mediation.

Conciliation

This is where you start to up the ante from mediation. Less soft, this service is directly about bringing two parties together to settle a dispute in an attempt to avoid taking a case to court. The big difference here is that the independent officer should have some level of industry experience to allow them the opportunity to present some possible resolutions to both sides if they cannot find the answer on their own. This is where QASSS operates in the norm. Due to our ADR Officers being focused on specific industries, they naturally move into a conciliator role, assisting both sides with possible, fair settlements.

Adjudication

Normally associated with the Ombudsman landscape. This is where judgement is made on a dispute by an independent third party. Similar to mediation, this is often provided by individuals trained legally, but not necessarily industry experts. When adjudicating between a business and consumer, the final judgment is made, with that decision being legally binding normally on only the business. It should be quite a quick process in theory but can often take longer.

Arbitration

Effectively adjudication on steroids. A decision at the arbitration level will supersede any decision made at an adjudication level. Arbitration is a longer process but is legally binding equally on both parties. Both parties agree to their dispute being transferred to an independent arbitrator, who will normally be legally qualified and will pass a ruling, providing the reasons for that outcome to both parties.

Expert Determination

The faster, cheaper version of Arbitration. It’s normally faster for two reasons; the independent expert is just that; an expert in the field of the dispute. Secondly, they will not provide both parties with all of their case notes or reasons for their decision. This speeds up the administrative processes but gets to the same result as arbitration. The resulting determination is legally binding on both parties.  QASSS set up its own Expert Determination service for clients and their consumers who wanted to avoid court and wanted to reach a resolution quickly. We do offer arbitration if required, however, to avoid higher costs for our customers, we recommend Expert Determination. For clients who use Dispute Assist already, QASSS provide the Expert Determination free of charge to the client, should it be required.

The benefits of using ADR

For companies:

At QASSS, we understand that complaints, if not dealt with, can lead to costly and lengthy court proceedings as well as being a drain on internal resources. ADR is considerably cheaper and also confidential so not in the public domain.

Using an ADR service takes the emotion out of the situation as disputes are resolved impartially and based on facts. It also helps prevent louder negative conversations on social media and protects brand reputation.

Businesses have an obligation to signpost consumers to a competent Alternative Dispute Resolution provider and tell them whether or not they are prepared to use the ADR provider to deal with the dispute. In certain sectors, ADR is a mandatory requirement. To find out more about your legal obligations, click here.

 

With in-depth sector knowledge and professional mediators, we provide award-winning fast resolutions (4.4 days on average) and, most importantly, protect consumer’s and company reputations.

  • Save time and resources. Referring disputes to an experienced ADR provider will realise operational efficiencies, free up customer care services and other internal resources.
  • Save costs, stress, and avoid going to court. Consumers will be less likely to bring legal proceedings which are not only time-intensive, stressful, and costly, but also in the public domain.
  • Reach a quicker decision. ADR is usually quicker than lengthy court proceedings. At QASSS, we have an average resolution time of just 3.59 days.
  • Drive better outcomes for customers, avoid deadlocks and potential reputational damage.
  • Ensure fairness and independence by using ADR officials who will act with impartiality when resolving disputes.
  • Improve conversion and retention. Stand out from competitors by demonstrating a clear commitment to high-quality customer service.

For consumers:

In certain circumstances, you may find that you are unable to reach a conclusion with an installer in the event of a dispute. It’s in these times when ADR can help find a resolution. ADR is unbiased and aims to find a fair resolution and agree with both parties.

  • Reduces the time to resolve a complaint
  • Avoids the cost and stress involved in going to court.
  • Ensures fairness and independence – ADR officials act with impartiality when resolving disputes.
  • Prevents further upset. ADR takes the emotion out of the situation where disputes are resolved independently based on facts.
  • Ensures everyone is dealt with professionally, courteously, and sympathetically.

If you operate in the home improvement or renewable energy sectors and are interested in learning more about ADR options, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or on tel no 0161 676 0919