The job is a complete mess! Do I still have to pay?


The work is half done – where do we go from here?

Contracts for Work and Materials often involve the incorporation of goods into other goods, property or land. Therefore you cannot simply get your money back and be put back into the same position you were in before the work started. The question is, is the contract severable? It very much depends on what you are having done and what payment plan you have agreed. Upon presentation of the finished item, can you simply say that you are not going to pay for it and you are not going to give them the opportunity to make it good? This may be a little unreasonable, but if you plan to cite a breach in contract due to an absence of reasonable care and skill, you must make it clear that you are rejecting the finished item. If you have accepted it, you may have to pay all or a portion of the price agreed in the contract.

What about work is taking place in phases? Let’s say you are having a conservatory built which involves the payment of four instalments. If after the second instalment it is clear that the work is substandard you can sever the contract at that point and ask them not to return. You can then pursue damages for monies paid and additional sums if any consequential losses have been incurred (the cost of putting right the poor workmanship). If however the builder offers to redo the work, then the reasonable response would be agree, as long as it can be done ‘in reasonable time’. But what if you have lost complete faith in the builders and do not want them back at all? This is also a reasonable response, although you would have to have good grounds to claim a loss of faith. For this reason, it is always advisable to take photos and keep a diary when having any long term building work done, so you have evidence should it ever become a dispute. Many trade bodies representing firms such as builders will offer a dispute resolution service – which is always cheaper and quicker than litigation! Therefore always choose a builder or tradesman who is accredited by a trade body, association or guild which can offer this service.

Common Complaints:

What about contracts for services?


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21 comments… add one

  • Ian Silver 16 August, 2:42 pm

    Hi,
    We have just got rid of some appalling builders. We have paid more money than the work is worth and will end up suing in the small claims court.
    We have also hung on to their cement mixer in lieu of damages.
    My question is – are we entitled to do this in law?
    Hoping so.
    Thanks,
    Ian.

    Reply
  • Catriona 17 August, 10:27 pm

    Ian, I can totally understand why you have done this, although there is no provision for this in law – otherwise where would you draw the line!? Hang onto it unless they ask for it back, but unless they declare bankrupty you would have a good chance of getting back overpaid funds via the small claim. Regarding costs, if there is no ‘fixed cost’ clause in the contract, your rights are only to be charged at ‘reasonable cost’, but you may have to get quotes from alternative builders to find out what the definition of ‘reasonable’ is. Good luck.

    Reply
  • Sam 19 August, 1:30 am

    I have sacked a shoddy builder. Some items in my flat have been damaged, some of the work has been done badly and I have had to pay to put it right and complete it. I gave him some money as a deposit but not the full amount. I just wanted to draw a line under it and leave it at that because he is related to me but he is trying to put in a bill for more (part of the original quote). I don’t feel i owe him any of this money. What damages can I claim? For example he damaged the carpet in a few places (paint on one bit and tried to re-fit it after having done some work but did it badly), I have not had this replaced yet because I can’t afford to but can I use this to deduct money from the bill he is trying to put in? Another thing, how do I work out the cost of re-doing certain things i.e. he hung the wall units so they weren’t level and they had to be taken down and rehung but the invoice I have is for the work as a whole not the individual items. Also, he is putting this bill in 3 months after I terminated the contact and wrote to him to that effect, does this have any implications?

    Reply
  • Catriona 27 August, 9:35 pm

    Sam, have a look at the proceeding section on ‘damages’, which will give you some pointers as to how much you can claim. One of the fundamenmtal aspects of a contract for work and materials is section 13 – that the supplier will carry out the service with reasonable care and skill. Failure to do so is a fundamental breach of contract and one which means you can exercise your right to terminate the contract. It would be reasonable to pay for work which has been satisfactory, but if you have had to ‘undo’ what he has done and pay additional costs to an alternative company, then why should you pay for it? You can claim damages to this effect but it may have to go through the courts if he disputes it. The time elapsed since terminating the contract to submitting his invoice has no legal implication, but would probably not be looked favourably on if tries to take you to court to get it.

    Reply
  • Pete 25 October, 6:32 pm

    Hi, i bought a flat off plan two years ago via the st james group.One of the reasons i bought the flat was because of the high ceilings.I complete this tuesday, but one of the bedroom ceilings is so low that i cant believe they have been given sign off legally for it.You can get into the room and stand but anyone over 6.2 would pratically touch the ceiling. How do i go about reaching an solution here. Do i need to contact a solictor or a property inspector? Any help, very much appreciated.

    Reply
  • Catriona 7 November, 12:42 am

    Pete, I’m not sure of the tolerances for ceiling height, but if you have an NHBC warranty, you can contact the NHBC and asked to be advised on the tolerance. If your measurements are outside the allowable tolerance, the NHBC will then carry out their own inspection and request work to tbe caried out by the builder as appropriate. http://www.newbuildinspections.com offer snagging inspections prior to legal completion which will advise you on whether everything is to standard or not.

    Reply
  • Brian hampton 15 November, 11:26 pm

    I had a tiler in last week to do my bathroom only said a couple of days- ya what a mess he has made, tiles not straight board all wonky more grount in the shower tray then on walls, then to top it all the shower trap blocked water pouring out everywhere. Thats a brief discription, the shop owner came told the tiler to fix it, he did to his standards, i’m still not satified asked the owner to get it fixed he said the tiler has spent enough time on this asked me for the payment, i said when he’s completed the job NOW he’s brought 3 guys to my home to intimidate me and said he’s going to take me to a small claim court. What should i do ??

    Reply
  • Catriona 19 November, 12:58 am

    Brian, You could argue breach of your statutory rights in terms of reasonable care and skill. However, it is clearly a case of your word against his. He has no right in intimidating you in this way, but having said this, try to reach an amicable solution in terms of what needs doing and what are prepared to pay. If you feel some of it is acceptable, you could offer to pay a portion of the total fee. Any small claim will take into account the views of an independent tiler (as an expert witness) who will have to be called in to inspect. Perhaps you could both agree on doing this as a first step?

    Reply
  • Denise 17 February, 12:29 pm

    We’ve been having a conservatory build by someone recommneded by a friend. We agreed a quote verbally (a mistake, looking back) on the basis that a fully itemised quote would follow (it didn’t). Now, with the building 2/3 complete we have received an itemised invoice for £5000 over the original quote. We cannot afford this and don’t see why we should have to pay, which we have stated to the builder. He maintains that he is still charging a reasonable price. We have already paid over 1/2 the amount of the original quote. Should we take legal advice or contact an ombudsman at this point?

    Reply
  • Catriona 18 February, 1:12 am

    Denise, while a contract made verbally is still legally binding, a quote cannot be enforced in the same way as an estimate. Refer to this section:
    http://whatconsumer.co.uk/the-price-i-paid-was-much-higher-than-the-estimate-i-feel-conned/
    Just as you have no contract with the builder, he has no contract with you, and therefore does not have the means to force you to pay him what he has requested. You can stop the work, get further estimates from other builders and pursue the original builder through the small claims to recover sums you have now had to pay to a second builder. But it will be hard to prove what you agreed verbally. If the builder is a member of a trade body you can take advantage of any arbitration service they offer. See: http://www.taforum.org

    Reply
  • Stuart 19 February, 5:43 pm

    We have had an attached garage converted into a dining room. Overall the work was good, but the builder fitted a skylight window which started leaking within 3 months.
    The leak is quite prominent, on rainy days there can be three streams of water dripping from one edge of the ceiling recess; paint and plaster has been waterlogged and is starting to flake away, and there are tea-coloured water stains forming around the base. Even on damp, misty days with no direct rain the window has leaked (!).
    From a visual inspection from on the garage roof (the window is built onto a raised and angled frame on top of the flat roof), it appears as though the water is seeping through the airvent instead of dripping off it – difficult to describe but the airvent has an overhanging edge which the frame, perhaps, isn’t vertical enough for it to work correctly.
    We don’t have a written guarantee, we didn’t pay by credit card, and the builder has started diverting my calls to answerphone. Every conversation up until now has been amicable from both sides but his promises to call back or fix it next week have not led to any action.

    Do we have any rights to ask for him to redress this, or do we need to find ourselves another builder?
    Thanks for any advice.

    Reply
  • Shaun 16 March, 2:35 pm

    Stuart I know exactly how you feel, I really do

    We had a builder undertake an extension which took 14 months to get signed-off. The work was taking a long time to complete and the builder appeared in no rush to finish it.

    I raised a concern with the following:

    * The builder in person and by writing on a number of occasions
    * NICEIC – due to poor electrical work and no electrical certificate
    * Corgi (as was) – bad fitting of boiler etc
    * Local Council regarding completion certificate
    * Trading Standards – relating to the above

    NICEIC; considerable correspondence, would not accept pictures or videos. Regional Inspector turned up with the builder who made him complete the work. All the bathroom lights had failed and I informed the inspector who said it was my word against his even though I had evidence to the contrary. Plug socks were not affixed correctly however the inspector said he could only request the builder do better in the future. The new electric box was installed in June it was December and only due to the inspector I received this.

    Corgi; Found that the boiler had not been installed correctly. Pipe diameters, fixing screws, flue etc. They passed the report to Trading standards. Gas meter was built over, Corgi highlighted this was illegal to do so but the builder had done this even though we had stated it was to be positioned outside. A Certified Registered Gas fitter (a friend of the builders) provided a gas certificate even though the Corgi inspector said it would be illegal for them to do so given the issues found.

    Local Authority; Contacted them as I required a completion certificate. Took them over five months before I received the certificate from them due to the builder not complying with their requests to finish off the work even though they could take action against him after 30 days. Mentioned on a number of occasions about the Gas meter stating it was illegal, the reply ‘it was nothing to do with them’. On the day the council inspector came out the builder indicated he would give him ‘the money in the pub’, read what you want into that.

    Trading standards; Contacted them initially about this and they opened a case and asked me to keep them updated which I did and on the last occasion they said they could not do anything as it was a civil matter. Frustrating much!! What are they in place for?

    With all of the above, I had made notes, got video and voice evidence but the local authority, trading standards and NICIEC did not in my opinion do much. The builder is still in the area doing bad work and lives a few doors away from me!

    What is the point of having these bodies in place if they are unwilling to take action against even though the consumer has got all the evidence and given the builder sufficient time to complete the work in a timely manner?

    To be honest this has been a nightmare and I am still rectifying work not completed by the builder a year down the line. The windows are loose, the pointing is a mess, the architraves are badly fitted and many many other things are wrong.

    He has indicated if I take him to court he will fold his business and start a new one. I go with a solicitor and it could cost me the earth!

    Where can I go from here to get some form of recompense with this cowboy builder! Any advice would be welcome, please!

    Reply
  • Dawn Alexander 19 March, 10:30 pm

    Hi, We have just had a porch fitted. We have paid £750 for phase one and then £700 for phase two. We have a remaining £1400 to pay once the porch is complete. It is now complete but there are 2 windows which they have put obscure glass in when I asked for clear. I rang the company and he said sorry and he forgot to update the order as I had changed my mind. He said that the new panes will come in next thursday and it’s then a 10 minute job to replace them. Should i pay the £1400 now as he asked or wait until glass replaced or pay part now and the rest when glass changed? I just don’t know. He seems genuine and they have done an excellent job and I am very pleased with the porch. Any advice would be welcome. thanks Dawn

    Reply
  • Zoe Brody 21 April, 9:29 pm

    Hi, I really hope someone can help me with this.. I moved into my house 4 and a half years ago and at that time employed a local plumber to install a new water tank and toilet. I paid him £500. After the work had been done I had a lot of problems with the plumbing, and some of the work he had done had to be reversed as I was subsequently advised that it was incorrect.
    He has now come back to say that the original quote was for £750 and so I still owe him £250 plus another £184 for materials. I have lived in the same village as this man for over 4 years and not once has he mentioned this – can he still lay claim to this? I honestly do not beleive he is entitled to the money as I do not believe the original quote was for £750 (surely it’s up to him to provide evidence of this?) and his work was not up to standard. He has taken to calling at my home in the evening and telling me that he now has a claim to part of my house if I don’t pay him.
    Any advice would be much appreciated..should I tell him to take me to the small claims court? He’s paid cash in hand so I wouldn’t imagine that he’d want to do that
    Many thanks
    Zoe

    Reply
  • Andy 4 November, 4:52 pm

    Hi

    We ordered a kitchen from Edinburgh IKEA using their full measure/design/supply/install service. Total bill = £8625

    Both the process and the finished product have been unsatisfactory.

    We were left with temporary worktops for 6 weeks, as the delivered worktops were of incorrect sized and spec.

    Despite remedial works, there remains an ugly misalignment between some cabinets.

    Some cabinets have begun to sag, obstructing the opening of other cabinet doors.

    The finished kitchen still does not match the design we had agreed when we placed our order.

    We had to spend a total of 6 hours cleaning up after the installers, including scrubbing plaster off surfaces.

    Getting IKEA to put things right has taken at least another 12 hours, plus having to take a day’s leave to be there during a return visit for remedial works.

    We’re having to set aside another day to be around for yet another visit to sort out the sagging cabinets.

    All this has taken place against a backdrop of the arrival of our newborn baby. All works should have been completed two weeks before her arrival – instead this has dragged on for nearly 5 months.

    In response to a claim of £2000 for lost time, inconvenience and distress, they’ve offered us £200 for goodwill.

    Is this reasonable? Could we conceivably achieve a better settlement (£1-2,000?) through Small Claims at the Sheriff’s Court? Should we be getting Trading Standards involved?

    Thanks for any advice

    Andy

    Reply
  • Cindy Lawrence 6 July, 5:10 pm

    We have recently had new fascias and guttering and soffits fitted by a local firm. They asked for payment on completion which we gave. On closer inspection there are many faults and we feel that the fitting of the goods is not to an acceptable standard. We have allowed the firm to return to rectify the problems but they appear to have made the situation worse. We feel that they are incapable of completing the job to an acceptable standard, even though he claims his work is of a high standard.

    What course of action is available to us?

    Thank you

    Reply
  • Claire 3 November, 5:17 pm

    Hi, I have recently has work done by a friend’s dad who is apparently a legitimate builder. We we’re assured the house would be ready by our moving in date (a month ago) and it is still not. Now the builder has just left the job half finished. Because we know the builder, when he asked for more money than I was comfortable paying before the job was finished, he said he would be unable to buy essentials for us moving in to the house so, reluctantly, we gave him it as his son is a very close friend of my partners. As a result we now only owe him £100 pound for the work which is no where near finished. I’m now doubting if he even is a legitimate builder and don’t know how to deal with the situation or if we have any rights?

    Reply
  • Richard 27 November, 10:49 am

    Builders are still working on refurbishing a small brick built outbuilding. We have in essence 2 main problems. One with the finish quality of the cement rendering used externally, and the other is the finished construction of the concrete window sills. Both of these in our view are substandard and are not of a reasonable quality. The builder disagrees.

    Is there anyone I can go to for advice on whether the work is in fact substandard or some procedure that I should follow?

    This was a recommended large firm of builders.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Heather France 20 June, 8:28 pm

    I got a roofer in to repair a leak in the roof of our house. He told me that the flat roof needed re-felting so I employed him to do this paying him £480. The leak continued. I got him to go back and he told me that the flat roof is sound but the leak is coming from another part of the roof and he doesn’t repair that type of roof. He recommended a roofer who told me the leak coming from next door. I have since got 2 roofers to come in and they say its the flat roof and it is bowed and holding water and that is why it is leaking. Yes he has re-felted the roof but he should have given it a slope so that the water run off.

    Reply
  • Julia 24 January, 7:00 pm

    Hi, just wondered if you have had your situation resolved and what advice you might have as I am in a similar situation.

    Would appreciate any information you can give.

    Thanks,

    Julia

    Reply
  • Patsy Slew 17 February, 2:16 pm

    Hi
    I had some windows fitted in January 2012 and before Christmas I noticed the sealer was going mouldy and there seemed to be a small amount of water coming through. The windows weren’t finished in a tidy way at all but I just thought that’s what happened when new windows were fitted. The company came out and put more sealer on but said it wasn’t their problem. Even when I tried to explain that water was coming through they said there wasn’t any coming through. The guy then put some sealer on top of the moult sealer which wasn’t even damp proof. I called later that day to say it hadn’t dried and they told me it wasn’t their problem. the sealer is now going green? Can I take this to some sort of trades body? I have a warranty but they don’t seem to think it’s their problem

    Reply