Alice H : My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help with your question today.
Alice H : Have you asked him exactly in what basis he is making this claim if he did not do any work? Is he saying, for example, that he had to turn down other work to make himself available for your job?
Alice H : I need as much information as possible to help you please.
Customer : He has implied that he lost work as a result of "booking" 2 days with us, but I believe that on the day he came to quote he had a longstanding booking cancelled for 3 days work and hoped to quickly infill the time with us. Given we told him that we were awaiting delivery of an essential fitment I believe that he would have told us he had the possibility of another job or would subsequently have told us that he had turned down another job in preference to ours. The first time he mentioned losing work was in his email to us one month later . He was verging on rude when my husband phoned to inform him that despite the manufacturers promises , the brackets hadn't been delivered at that stage he did not mention losing work nor did he mention this issue when he phoned several weeks later looking to quote for another carpentry job which we had already employed someone else to do.
Alice H : There is an argument to say that a legally binding contract has not been created between you and the carpenter because the offer to accept his services was subject to delivery of the bracket which did not happen. So your defence to his claim is that the requisite elements under contract law have not been met and, therefore, no monies are due. Furthermore you can ask m to breakdown exactly on what basis he is seeking this money and for him show what he has done to mitigate his losses. You can ask for this information under the Civil Procedure Rules pre-action protocol. Once you have some further information from him you can decide whether to stand your ground or offer him a smaller sum to settle the matter. You should also consider asking for arbitration which is a less formal than court and involves a round table discussion to resolve the matter with a qualified arbitrator.
Customer : Another issue which might be a red herring this all started after we had problems with the bricklayer/Groundworkser on our extension we discovered some potentially expensive errors in measurements having spoken politely to him about the issue he submitted a massive bill, £3000 (labour only) for one person on site for 5 days! We challenged this and asked him to explain the costing , he promised to do this but never has, we just get increasingly abusive emails from him. We know the carpenter and bricklayer are friends but from the coincidence of emails from them both arriving in tandem late on Thursday evening , they seem to meet on a regular basis. This may sound paranoid but the carpenter did not send us a bill until his friend had unilaterally walked off site leaving us to desperately search for replacement builders prepared to correct the problems created the previous builder
Alice H : OK. Is there a question you would like to ask?
Customer : Well it's a dificult one it at times feels quite threatening and my husband and I both feel harrassed by these demanding emails. For example when my husband went to visit his parents he insisted I be careful going to the front door not to open it to the builder and to phone the police if he/they went around the back of the house ( the back wall is knocked down and security only provided by some flimsy boards. The builder hasn't actually threatened violence but is a macho type very unlike my husband.
Customer : Sorry , the question is do you have any suggestions of things we can do or do we just have to wait and see what they do next and then respond?
Alice H : OK. How much did you agree with the builder for the work? How much have you actually paid?
Customer : He quoted £24000 for 2 extensions and Groundworks, this did not include materials which we were ordering ang paying for. He invoiced us £3000 which we paid in full for the foundations but then 2 weeks later having barely been on site he billed us £3000 for the labourer he employed who was on site for a week . Our quantity survey said that when the walls were up to "plate" height (which they were almost to but not quite) £4500 in total was the figure. We there fore paid him another £1500 to bring the £3000 up to £4500. We have told the builder we are willing to examine his figures and have our QS look at them . He did say he would send his figures on but despite repeated requests hasn't done so. He just says he want to come here to discuss the situation which seems pointless without the figures to discuss and just seems like an opportunity to intimidate us, as I said my husband is not a macho type and to be honest despite all the problems caused by half finished,jobs there was some relief as felt he spoke to my husband rudely and always wanting to put him down.
Alice H : With regard to the rudeness and harassment - if you feel distressed by the behaviour you can take legal action against the builder including a report to the police. Nobody is allowed to bully you over a dispute about payment. Bullying behaviour of this nature is a criminal offence. With regard to the monies due to the builder you need not pay him more than reasonably due for the work that he actually did. So if you have a QS who can help you then you should try and negotiate a settlement if you can and offer him reasonable payment for the work done; if you cannot settle this then any negotiations that take place can be mentioned in court if the but,DRR decides to sue. But I think you need to deal with this matter proactively by stating your case to him in writing supported by any reports you have from the QS. As a matter of law the Supply of Goods And Services Act 1982 states that the builder should exercise "reasonable care and skill" - so any offer to settle should take this into account when the discussion arises as to how much he should actually be paid.
Customer : Just realised on rereading I didn't clarify that the bulk of the quote was for a much larger more complex build at the front of the house and that all our QS figures show that yes the rear extension is 1/4 of the build but he hadn't finishes it. Getting the steel beams in position has involved 3 men on site for 3 days and we have employed a bricklayer for4 days to correct defects and finish
Alice H : OK. I suggest you and the builder should go to arbitration. You are clearly unhappy with his work and conduct and he claims you owe him some money. Arbitration is the quickest and cheapest method of resolving this dispute.
Customer : When you say " reasonable care and skill" do you mean we can reduce the amount because we have had to pay someone to correct faults? I should think this is academic as according to the QS we have probably overpaid and I certainly don't wish to take him to Court I just want to move on and get on with finishing the build. You mention the police if we feel harrassed but surely we could hardly involve them unless there was either physical threats or coming on to our property without consent.
Customer : Alice thanks very much for your helpful comments.
Customer : Alice sorry about that thanks for your helpful comments, my husband isn't about and I would like to have him look at your advice. So we may be back in touch tomorrow.
Customer : My husband has just asked how we go for arbitration? Is this a court procedure?