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Scott Willis

The issues raised here are important however, and while I agree that it is not CEN’s place to be a consumer advocate in legal issues, it is the evidence based approach that homeowners can ideally use to stand up for their rights, should it come to a legal confrontation.

At my own home, we had a legal issue some time ago that made me acutely aware of how challenging this space is. It related to some new double glazed windows we purchased, and the issues around the supply of windows, installation, leaking, windows not to spec, etc were so numerous that eventually (after failing to have any productive conversation with the supplier) we sought the advice of the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. While their knowledge of building or technical issues was lacking, their understanding of the Consumer Guarantees Act was good, and their advocacy on our behalf was a great relief. However, we were still required to pay for a Building Consultant to provide an expert opinion – which we did – and get a builder to repair the worst of the main problem – which we did. By that stage, while we had what we were confident was a water-tight case, and an almost water-tight home, we were emotionally exhausted (the company was particularly confrontational) and elected not to invest in taking them to court.

This situation made me very aware of how vulnerable many people are to unscrupulous suppliers (even those of us who have access to good information make mistakes) and how essential it is that independent advice is available and accessible. It continues to frustrate me that as a society we do not value the place of independent advice enough to resource it – doing so would not only help reduce fuel poverty, it would also direct economic activity towards useful ends – investment in appropriate solutions.