Building something new is exciting. Perhaps you’re building a home, or a commercial property. It might be the start of a completely new life for you, or perhaps you’re expanding your horizons. Either way, building a new property, or updating an existing one, is an exhilarating time.
But it can also be extremely stressful, especially if you’re adhering to a strict budget or timeline. In this case, matters can be made one hundred times worse by disputes with builders, which can be costly and time consuming in themselves.
If you’re relying on the erection or modification in time for something important – if you’re living in there, for example, or trying to launch a new business – it can be tempting to try to dissolve disputes yourself, in order to get the issue rectified as quickly as possible, but we’d advise against this. If there are any issues further down the line because of building work, but you accepted the faults and paid your builder, you’re going to struggle bringing a case against someone, and you’ll cost yourself time and money.
We’d suggest you employ a professional to deal with your building dispute for you, thus making sure your bases are covered. It might take more time, but it will be well worth it if you’re looking for a solid conclusion.
At JMR Solicitors, our legal experts know all there is to know about building disputes. You can contact us by emailing email@example.com, or call 0161 491 3933.
In the meantime, here’s everything we think you need to know about building disputes.
Keep a paper record
Before you approach your builder to complain – or speak to a solicitor, if that’s what you need to do – it’s a really good idea to have a full record of how much you have already spent and on what. Gather all paperwork and receipts, take photographs as evidence of the problem you have, and make notes about what happened, taking time to include the date and time of the incident, so that there’s a full, useful record of events. These things can go on for years and might result in court action. You’re going to need to have a comprehensive account, or else you’re not going to get what you’re looking for.
Identify what needs to happen next
How you deal with you builder depends on what they’ve done.
- They haven’t finished the work on time: You need to give your builder a second chance to finish the work. Put the new agreed date in writing and make it very clear – both verbally and on paper – that you expect the work to be done this time. If they miss the deadline again, seek legal advice.
- They haven’t done a good job: In this case, the builder must either fix the problem or issue you with a refund. You must stop them from doing the work immediately. The water is muddied a little bit if they bought the building materials. Seek legal advice.
- They haven’t done what I asked: If your builder agreed with your plans and then hasn’t delivered what they promised, they have broken their contract with you. You can ask them to do what is necessary to deliver what was promised, and they should cover additional costs. They should fix the issue within a reasonable amount of time.
- They’ve charged more than we agreed: The trader cannot charge you more than they quoted you unless they have a very good reason. Reasons include:
- There was a mistake in the quote (an obvious one, like a comma missing, or a severe undercharge).
- They had to do more work to fulfil the brief, and let you know that was the case ahead of time.
If you were misquoted but it wasn’t obvious to you when you got the quote, you have a case to get the work done for the price you were originally given. If you were given an estimate and the final price was a lot more than you were anticipating, you can dispute it. Let your builder know what you were expecting to pay, that you think the new price is unreasonable, and state what you would be willing to pay. If they refuse, seek legal advice.
- Something they installed is dangerous or unsafe: Stop using the item right away. Report the builder to Trading Standards by contacting Citizens Advice. Raise a complaint with the trader. Seek legal advice.
We understand you’re likely in turmoil. There aren’t many people out there who can afford to absorb the time and financial costs of a building dispute. Our dedicated team can help. You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0161 491 3933. Our dedicated team of specialists will help you come to a swift, satisfactory resolution, with as little personal and financial cost to you as possible.