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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47902
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I own a property maintenance company. I did a quote

Customer Question

I own a property maintenance company. I did a quote for demolishing a garden pond, the quote included the cost and amount of time to complete work.
Unfortunately when I began work, I found it to be reinforced concrete, which is near impossible to do by hand. It has come to a point where I can no longer continue the work, but have already started, and left a half finished job. The client will need to hire a specialist demolition firm to finish the job.
The point we're at now is that the client still expects me to finish the job, based on my quote, and despite my saying it is not possible, he is still insisting I must because I've started the job and have become responsible.
I have now left the site and haven't returned. No payment has been made to me.
The client is very annoyed and is angry he will possibly have to pay a lot more to another firm to finish the job, and that the garden is unusable.
However, there is not much I can do, I did not know how reinforced the concrete was. It was a complete surprise, and I can no longer continue on my own. I've also asked another company to evaluate, they too were surprised at strength of the concrete, and also concluded that it is not possible for a single person to complete.
What is my position, and how can I formally put it to him that I cannot return to complete the work? No money has changed hands.
Many thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello was it reasonable for you to find out it was concrete when you inspected the site?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello was it reasonable for you to find out it was concrete when you inspected the site?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes I knew it was concrete. I did not know it was reinforced.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you know a rough idea when you can answer, as I need to get back to client. Thanks.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi sorry I was travelling. Sorry I meant to say was it reasonable for you to have known it was reinforced concrete, for example should you have done a borehole test or similar to establish this or would this not usually be required for that type of work?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi,Possibly for a professional demolition company, but I'm a general handyman. I thought it was normal concrete that could be broken into large chunks within a couple of days work. Are we able to text through a different medium ie Skype.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I am afraid I have to converse on here. Alternative I can call to discuss this but it will be a premium servcie so liable for extra charges, I can send a quote, it will be about the same as for the written question
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Let me know how you wish to proceed please
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No it's ok, we can carry on here.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
ok no problem, I will get my response ready and reply on here shortly, within 20-30mins at most
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One other thing, though probably irrelevant. The client seems to have known the amount of work and cost involved to remove it before hand, as I contacted local demolition companies myself, and they said they think they have already spoken to him.So it seems he selected myself among others as my price was a heck of a lot lower, seeing as I didn't know the work involved. After speaking with another handyman, even he said it will take another 4-5 days work, with 2 people, not 1. It really needs heavy duty machinery, ie. diggers, but access won't allow this.I don't like leaving his garden in that kind of state, but I don't think I'll be able to complete the work.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. When you quoted for the work you would have quoted based on the information you knew or ought to have known at the time. If this was advertised to you as simple concrete or your observations led you to believe that this was concrete and there was nothing to suggest that it was reinforced, then the quote will only be valid on the assumption you were dealing with concrete. Similarly, if he had knowingly held back on details about this and in effect misled you in some way he must take some responsibility for it. If the job suddenly changes in specification, due to unforeseen circumstances, like finding out it was from a different material and means you are unable to do it, then you are not legally obliged to continue with it and the initial quote will not be valid. No one can force you to finish the job – he may want that as an ideal outcome but physically you cannot be forced to do so. Therefore, the best he can hope for is to pursue you for compensation for rectifying the work you have already done. However, if you had started the work and someone else will finish it and what you have done will not affect that work or create additional workload or incur additional costs, then he cannot really pursue you for much. He can only do it if you had done work which creates additional work for whoever comes in to finish the job and as a result he has had to pay extra. So he can say whatever he wants but he cannot force you to finish the work in question. All he can do is pursue you for the potential costs he may have to incur to remedy the work already done but as mentioned that may be zero if the next builder was going to do the same work and it has created no extra workload for them. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should a claim be made against you, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** do a positive rating. I do need to know how to approach him though to put my position forward formally?Verbal communication has become difficult, as he is very angry and somewhat confrontational. Mostly from he says about leaving the garden in such a state, but mainly I think it is about money. As in, he probably knows it will cost him a lot to sort, and he has no choice but to pay.My only other form of communication is via email, text or "snail mail".If I walk away from this, though I think I deserve some payment, I currently have no intention of pursuing this, even though I spent money on hiring tools, and have done 3 days work (quite hard labour).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, I do feel bad about the state of the garden. Should I apologise, or would that be admitting fault.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What would it cost for you to draft a letter.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Did he actually mislead you over the material?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Material? No
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I mean the concrete or reinforced concrete? He didn't say it was definitely concrete or intentionally fail to give you relevant details about it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, not really, he just invited me around to look at it, I wouldn't think he knew. The only thing I'm suspicious of is that he got other quotes which were a lot higher, so he probably knew the amount of work involved, though I didn't realise.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
If you do not wish to communicate verbally with him you do not have to, it can be via other means. I think you should b prepared to forfeit any payment you think you may be due because that will just inflame things ad he can try and counterclaim against you and it an all become messy. It will be difficult for me to draft a letter from scratch as I only have limited details, but I can review something you have written and make amendments
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Alright, but what should I say, in general -- to be able to walk awy.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
From his point of view, he was given a quote (£480), and went ahead based on this. He now says if he knew it would be so much more he wouldn't have gone ahead with hiring me. So this is why I wondered if I'm liable.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He is basically saying that he can't afford to pay someone else to carry on the work (not sure how true this is), which could cost thousands from a proper demolition company, and how do I have the conscience to leave him like this.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
To be honest that is tough luck. You did not quote for the reinforced concrete and cannot be forced to finish that job. It will cost him loads because it is a big job but that's the reality and that is not your problem here really
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, please let me know how to put this in the right terms?"Krishna, I am unable to continue demolition/removal of the pond in your garden.The job is now beyond my capabilities, I did not realise that it will be such reinforced concrete, so will not be completing the job.No matter how we discuss this, removing all of it, plus the rocks and mud is not possible for one person. It will need specialised equipment and knowledge that I do not possess. After meeting with Glenn today he also said the same thing, when he quoted, he had no idea on the thickness of the concrete, nor the fact that it had reinforced metal going through it. He said he is only prepared to continue at his own day rate.It is better now to approach a demolition firm or builders that are more capable of finishing the job."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I need to know whether it's advisable to apolgise/admit that I made a mistake in my quote, and perhaps shouldn't have started the work.And, to tell him I won't be asking for payment? Or just leave it hanging.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
And apologise for the state of his garden, and admit personal guilt?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Don't admit wrongdoing, just say that the specs of the job have changed due to unforeseen circumstances and the job is no longer what you quoted for. Apologise for the state of the garden and show remorse in that respect but do not make it sound like your error caused this, because it did not - you did not know at the time there was reinforced concrete and as it is different to normal concrete it makes the job specs different and not something you can do.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Does the above sound ok what I wrote. BTW I know it's late and we're going beyond the original question. If you want me to send you a bonus that would be ok.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
"Dear Sir,I am unable to continue demolition/removal of the pond in your garden. Due to unforeseen circumstances the specs of the job has changed from when I originally quoted. The concrete used in the construction of the pond is reinforced, which I did not realise until part of the way through. It also seems that now the bottom of the pond will need to be removed in order to provide enough depth for the turf later.I cannot continue as the work is now beyond my capabilities, so will not be completing the job.No matter how we discuss this, removing all of it, plus the rocks and mud is not possible for one person. It will need specialised equipment and knowledge that I do not possess. After meeting with Glenn today he also said the same thing, when he quoted, he had no idea on the thickness of the concrete, nor the fact that it had reinforced metal going through it. He said he is only prepared to continue at his own day rate.It is better now to approach a demolition firm or builders that are more capable of finishing the job.My sincere apologies for having to leave the garden the way it is.Regards..."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Really need to know, should I say *anything* about payment. ie. I will not be persuing payment, or just leave it as is?? Thanks.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, see you're off line now. If you can answer in the morning I'd be super grateful. If you require extra I can send as a bonus.Thanks.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
I am still here, just amending your response
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, the little bubble that said you're online has gone.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Krishna, I am unfortunately unable to continue with the demolition/removal of the pond in your garden. Initially, on examination, this appeared to be simple concrete, but now that the job has begun it has become evident that this is reinforced concrete and is now beyond my capabilities. This was not evident on initial inspection and had I known this I would never have agreed to undertake this. As it is physically impossible for me to complete this job I would not be able to do so. No matter how we discuss this, removing all of it, plus the rocks and mud is not possible for one person. It will need specialised equipment and knowledge that I simply do not possess. It is therefore futile to even try to get me to finish the job – it is practically impossible. After meeting with Glenn today he also said the same thing. When he quoted, he had no idea of the thickness of the concrete, nor the fact that it had reinforced metal going through it. None of this would have been possible on initial examination. This job can only be completed by a specialist demolition firm or builders that have the necessary skill and tools to complete such a job. Whilst I appreciate this may be at a higher cost than I quoted, please be mindful that my quote was only based on the assumption I was dealing with simple concrete rather than reinforced concrete. I hope you find the right persons to do this for you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
This is what I would put for now, do not mention payment, see how things develop, if he does not give up you can raise it but for now it would be sufficient as above
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, you're a superstar. Is there anyway I can request to work with you again if I have a question in the future?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Yes sure, just start your quesiton with 'for Ben Jones' Thank you