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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3653
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I have been left with a £2200 repair bill after a builder failed

Resolved Question:

I have been left with a £2200 repair bill after a builder failed to return to fix several serious problems with a structure he had built. The structure was only 6 months old and was covered by a 25 year guarantee.
I have the original, quote and invoice, stating the guarantee. I have emails from the builder stating that he will not return, as he had been burgled and all his tools stolen. I have an email from myself offering to "not" take legal action, if he could prove he was burgled, and his reply declining my offer. There is a final email from me to him containing a quote for a repair of £1400 ( now £2200 ) and a request for him to pay that in return for dropping legal action. I received no reply to that.
Question is ;
1) Have I done all the necessary before one should take legal action.
2) What is the best way of recovering my losses. I was thinking small claims court. I am almost certain he will not pay even if I won in the small claims.
3) Does taking somebody to small claims preclude any other legal action I can take against them.
Your advice much appreciated.....
Kim McCherry
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
Was the 25 year guarantee just a written guarantee or was it underpinned by insurance or a financial bond?
Have you actually paid out for the repair or is just a quote? Is he a limited company or a sole trader?
To commence a county court claim you need to give him a 7 day notice - you need to say if he does not repair the damage or pay the cost of doing so within 7 days you will commence proceedings.
You can commence a money claim online here - https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome
I would note conceptually the one issue you may have is the fact remains you will have to pay to have the repair done any way - as it stands if you only have a quote for the loss you will suffer it may be easier to claim this if you have actually paid out for the damage.
In terms of other legal action really obtaining a court order is the best thing you can obtain as you can then use it to take enforcement action like send in the bailiffs. The other action you can take is to either serve a statutory demand (which you could do anyway if you had a judgment) on him and try avoid commencing court proceedings or complain to trading standard.
Statutory Demand - https://www.gov.uk/statutory-demands/overview - I would note serving a statutory demand without a Judgment is a risk because it is quite easy to set aside if the builder disputes the debt
Trading Standards - https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex, In answer to your questions.

The 25 Year guarantee is written only.

I have not yet paid out and the £2200 is just a quote.

He is a sole trader

I can send the request asking him pay within 7 days but not that he make good the repairs himself as work is now underway. The structure was unsafe and needed to be made good. It was clear from numerous emails that he would not return.

Could you clarify, your paragraph starting

"I would note conceptually.." It seems an important point but I am not totally clear on what you mean.

"Obtaining a court order" is what is commonly referred to as taking somebody to the small claims court. Is that correct?

Once the court order is obtained, you say I can take enforcement action, what steps are involved and will this require that I work with a solicitor and will these additional costs be recoverable.

Thanks in advance...

Kim.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
The first point, if the work is underway then please ignore my point on the concept of recovering a loss that is only quoted. If you have instructed other builders to do the work, then you have incurred the loss so this is fine.
Obtaining a court order is the same as taking some to the small claims court and winning.
Enforcement action can range from - bailiffs, petitioning for someones bankruptcy, seeking a charging order over any assets they have. Yes you can add the cost of enforcement action to your debt however there are limits to what you can claim depending on what action you take. If this individual does not actually have the means to pay then you may decide not to pursue him now and wait until he has the means to pay - once you have a court order you will have 6 years to enforce it. Does this individual own his own home?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Alex....My answer and hopefully my final questions below...

1) I believe he does own his own home.

2) Given the debt of £2200 and the assumption that he has assets of more than that and additionally probably the means to pay, which enforcement action would you recommend? and would it require that I use a solicitor?

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you.
If he owns his own home I would personally recommend that you make the court claim. If you win then you apply for a charging order over his home.
If he then cannot pay you will at least have a security for your debt and the debt will not be at risk of it become statute barred after 6 years.
You will need a solicitor to do this.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
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