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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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We own 2 flats in the same building and engaged a local builder

Customer Question

We own 2 flats in the same building and engaged a local builder to install soundproofing between them. At the time of our agreeing for the work to be carried out he suggested that, although complete sound insulation was probably not achievable, we could well achieve a 70% reduction in sound transmission between the flats. The work has been carried out and the standard of workmanship is very good but the desired aim of sound reduction has not been achieved at all. We are, as a result, reluctant to pay the full cost of the work. Can you advise us please?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Were you private customers or acting as a business?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We are private customers
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones - we are private customers
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
When were the works completed?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
December 2015
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones - December 2015
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
When a consumer makes a purchase from a business seller, they will have certain 'statutory' rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The law states that the goods must be:
• of satisfactory quality – they must not be faulty or damaged when you receive them;
• as described – they must match any description given to you at the time of purchase; and
• fit for purpose – they should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for,
If they do not match the above requirements, you will have certain legal remedies against the seller. Similarly, if anything was agreed prior to the purchase or works starting you can include that as part of the contract.
If the goods do not meet the criteria mentioned above, you will have the following rights:
1. Reject them and request a refund - this is only possible if the rejection occurs within 30 days of purchase.
2. Ask for a repair or replacement – if you are too late to reject the goods or do not wish to get a refund straight away, you can ask the seller for a repair or replacement. If a repair has been arranged but has failed, or if a repair or replacement are not possible, you are still entitled to ask for a refund, or a price reduction. Alternatively you could get a second repair or replacement at no extra cost to you. However, the retailer can refuse if they can show that your choice is disproportionately expensive compared to the alternative.
A useful rule is that if a fault appears within the first 6 months after purchase, the law assumes that they did not meet the statutory requirements at the time of sale. If the retailer disagrees, it is for them to prove that this was not the case. However, if the fault occurs more than 6 months after purchase, it would be down to the consumer to prove that they did not meet the statutory requirements set out above at the time of sale.
If there is still time to reject the goods and request a refund, you may do so. If you are outside of the initial 30 days and are too late to reject them, you can still try and resolve this by contacting the seller and asking them for a repair or replacement. You can quote the applicable rights you have under the Consumer Rights Act as mentioned above. If they appear reluctant to assist, write to them one more time, warn them that they have 7 days to comply and inform them that if they fail to meet their legal obligations, you will have no choice but to report them to Trading Standards and start legal proceedings to seek compensation for your losses.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones - thank you very helpful
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome, all the best
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones. Ben, a follow-on from my previous question if I may.
Our argument is that we relied on the builders to install a sound-proofing system that would reduce sound transmission from the upper to the lower flat and vice versa. They specified what work they would carry out and we agreed to their quotation assuming that they knew what they were doing. In fairness to them they carried out the work exactly as specified and our issue is not with the standard of their work (which is extremely good) but with the result which in our view has not reduced the sound transmission by any appreciable amount. They believe, having carried out their specification exactly that they are entitled to payment in full. Our contention is that, notwithstanding the high quality of their workmanship, the results are not such as we were led to believe that we might expect. In line with your previous answer our view is that we have an argument in terms of the work done and/or materials used the result is not "fit for purpose" and we are accordingly seeking at least a partial refund in line with your answer (the replacement option would entail a huge amount of further work which we do not really want). Hopefully we can reach a settlement on this issue but any further views/advice you can give us on this matter would be enormously helpful Thank you in advance
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello again, that is indeed the line of argument you would be taking up if you were to challenge this. They have made claims at the start suggesting that you would achieve 70% sound reduction and it really depends on how they sold this to you. If there was a clear understanding that they could not guarantee that and that you would be undertaking the work at your own risk bearing that in mind, pursuing them for a reduction in the costs may not be that easy. But if they had more or less guaranteed this quality of noise reduction and it has not happened then that is where your rights will be better and you can try and rely on the ‘not fit for purpose’ argument to try and get a reduction in the costs.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In fairness they never guaranteed any specific level of reduction - it merely arose in discussing the project prior to commencing the work. I presume therefore that negotiation for a reduction in the amount outstanding is the only sensible option as should such a matter come to court we would be unlikely to be able to win the argument?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones Can you confirm my assumption therefore that since they gave no guarantee of any specific level of noise reduction (which merely arose in discussing the project prior to commencing the work) negotiation for a reduction in the amount outstanding is the only sensible option as should such a matter come to court we would be unlikely to win the argument?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
They may not have specifically guaranteed it but it is possible to claim that any discussions and promises during negotiations and before the start of the works forms part of the main contract. The issue there is trying to prove that it was said and to what degree it was promised or made to sound like a given. Often it can be your word against theirs and then a court could really decide either way which makes such a claim a big risk. So I cannot say whether you will win or not but there is probably a 50/50 chance at most. Saying that, if you keep the costs below £10k it will be the small claims court and even if you lose you would not be required to pay the other side's legal costs so the risks are not as big
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
Are you able to reply to my question please?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
reply above timed 5:23
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
Sorry I don't understand - "reply above timed 5.23" - meaning?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I replied to you at 5:23 and it is above in the conversation history, can you not see it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
No I cannot see it
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
OK I will post again: They may not have specifically guaranteed it but it is possible to claim that any discussions and promises during negotiations and before the start of the works forms part of the main contract. The issue there is trying to prove that it was said and to what degree it was promised or made to sound like a given. Often it can be your word against theirs and then a court could really decide either way which makes such a claim a big risk. So I cannot say whether you will win or not but there is probably a 50/50 chance at most. Saying that, if you keep the costs below £10k it will be the small claims court and even if you lose you would not be required to pay the other side's legal costs so the risks are not as big
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
Thank you I've got it now
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No problem, thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For Ben Jones
Further to my earlier enquiries to yourself regarding soundproofing between 2 flats that we own.
We are seeking a reduction in the amount outstanding whilst they are only prepared to offer a token amount (£500 compared to our request for £2,500).
We would still seek to meet somewhere between these figures and to strengthen our hand we arranged for a sound insulation test to be carried out in line with building regulations criteria. The results of this are now to hand and record a clear failure against minimum criteria. (I am seeking to establish precisely how significant/serious the failure is by an enquiry to the sound engineer).
In the meantime the building contractor who carried out the work is veering towards use of the small claims court to settle the matter.
My intention once I have a clarification from the sound engineer is to respond to the contractor along the lines of: the work has failed, given the sound check results; ergo the work was not fit for purpose; ergo a reduction of £2,000 is warranted.
Any views/advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated.This is the latest e-mail received:"Thank you for your email.As discussed in our meeting, and as I was to understand it, you wished to only pay for materials, which is why we opened the quote document to find out what sums were allocated where.Using your rounding up system (for arguments sake) the sum of £5000.00 for labour was to treat 2 areas (floors) with 2 different specifications. Theses specifications were outlined in the initial quote 26th May 2015 for our contract in “section 1. TO ALL ROOMS sub-section: Floors, sub-section: Ceilings”The treatment of the ground floor (which you are unsatisfied with) with rubber acoustic matting, chipboard and insulation and the treatment of the 1st floor (Ceiling in the flat 2, which to this point you are satisfied with) with acoustic resilient rods, insulation, sound foam and sound board with a skim finish. As it is only the sound proofing of the floor at flat 1 (ground floor) that you are unsatisfied with we isolated the labour sum, as you know, to just under £2000.00. This is because the different specification issued and treatment to the separate floors differs in the level of difficulty to execute. I believe we covered that in our meeting 19th January 2016 and you appeared satisfied with the reasoning as to this.It is for this reason that a reduction of £2500.00 is disproportional to the labour works and unfortunately not one that we are able to offer.As discussed in our meeting on the 19/01/16 I have taken legal advice, as well as a lengthy discussion with trading standards as to insure that our responsibilities to the contract have been met and as to what would be the best method to both parties to resolve your personal dissatisfaction.We have, as advised, sort to satisfy your request of the breakdown in the costing and offer a reasonable amount (circa 25%) reduction of the area works undertaken which appertains to the area of acoustic results you are unhappy with. As discussed it is a good will gesture and although advised not one we are legally obliged to take.It is for these reasons that unfortunately, as discussed at our meeting the option of letting an independent official conclude this matter is looking our only option to which I believe the small claims court is the best route.As for the minor issues you have separate, just mentioned in your last email, we are, as always, happy to sort anything for you (subject to availability and reason) however I defiantly wish to resolve the issue of the remaining debt of £4,013.75 which I’m sure is a mutual priority.Once again, although this set of circumstances is most uncomfortable I am pleased we remain on good terms and it is for that reason I am confidant that we can resolve this matter through any route necessary."
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately your question has expired as you must post any follow up queries within 7 days of the date of the original question. If you need any further help on this subject please post it as a new question on our site - you may start it with 'for Ben Jones' so that I get it and deal with it as fast as I can. Many thanks