Are you involved in a dispute with a builder?
When you’ve spent what seems like a small fortune on home improvement it seems only natural for you as a homeowner to expect that the builder you have employed completes the job on time and to a reasonable standard. In fact, this is ingrained in the Consumer Right Act 2015 which states that the builder must use reasonable care and skill while working.
If you did not find this to be the case, you can as a homeowner ask the builder to fix the problem within a specified time period or seek a refund from the builder. If you agreed to the work on or after 1 October 2015, the builder should provide you with a refund within 14 days of your request.
It is always a good idea to have a written contract with anyone carrying out building works in your home. You can obtain one, if you haven’t already, from https://www.jctltd.co.uk.
In this contract, it is important to set out a schedule for work to be completed and an agreement to pay the builder in stages of completed work. It is important to retain a sufficient amount to pay the builder once the project is complete, as by paying the builder too much in the early stages of a project, you might unwittingly provide an incentive for the builder to walk off site before work is fully complete.
The cost for a homeowner of finding a replacement builder, especially if the work is over 80% complete, could be much greater than if the project had been completed by one builder. Our advice, therefore, is to keep as much money as possible to pay the builder at the completion of the project.
When there is a dispute over a bill
The first step when you believe that a builder has provided you with inadequate service is to complain to the builder directly and to try and resolve the problem with them:
- Write a succinct letter to your builder, outlining any steps they should take with a definitive timeline for works and stipulated costs.
- Ask the builder to confirm in writing that they are prepared to comply with your request.
- If you reach the point of deadlock with the builder, where they are refusing to carry out work after you have sent them a letter, then inform them that you have no alternative other than to engage a specialist solicitor to assist in reaching a formal resolution to the dispute.
What we can do to help you resolve your dispute
We are on hand to advise you in relation to alternative dispute resolution. Litigation in court is always expensive and often time consuming, so homeowners are strongly advised to seek a resolution to a building dispute by means of settlement or mediation rather than proceeding to court in the first instance. Sometimes a case cannot be resolved in this way and when this happens, we can help you to fight your case in court by way of a fixed fee or conditional fee agreement.
Please see our page on Building Disputes for further details – we have also provided a helpful template letter for Defective and Outstanding Work.