THE OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING has advised consumers not to sign contracts demanding payment in full - or a high proportion of the cost - in advance of home improvement work. The OFT warning does not merely target smalltime cowboys and bodgers: in particular it names Limelight
, the holding company for such established brands as Dolphin Bathrooms, Moben Kitchens and Portland Conservatories. Limelight, currently flailing in troubled financial waters, has agreed to amend its standard contracts accordingly and other home improvement companies are expected to follow suit. The revised contracts will come into force by the end of February, leaving individual customers free to negotiate stage payments with the company concerned, and hold back a percentage of the total cost against defaults in workmanship or specification.