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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am having a dispute with my architect who is asking money

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I am having a dispute with my architect who is asking for more money - we agreed a fixed fee and he now tells me that we are in an open contract and need to pay more. You'll see in the email trail how it's unfolding. Can you advise me how l should respond and what course of action we should take.
Sorry I couldn't respond earlier I was about to go out for a run.
No, I disagree , in fact the invoice I sent was based on a prompt payment with no haggling, the actual extra time we spent on revisions you asked for was based on the fact at that time you were going ahead comes to at least another £3000 plus Vat. You had several conversations with me, all noted by other staff members in my office as well as emails.
Why would I do alterations to the first design if I thought you had no intention of building it with us or paying for it?
I'll not negotiate.
If this is not paid by close of business next Thursday I will include all disbursement, my time as well, plus the extra modelling costs and issue a summons for the full amount.
You cannot mess people around like this without consequences .
I'm sure your no longer laughing as on our last call you seemed somewhat amused telling me to ring your husband.
I suggest you pay promptly.
Kind Regards,
Steve *****
************* *************
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On 1 Jul 2016, at 15:29, Liz Rochester wrote:
Hi Steve
I’m writing in response to a recent invoice that was sent to me.
I have assumed this is a mistake. I appreciate that it is disappointing that we will not be going ahead. We’ve always said we did not have a finite budget and the more we look into it the more we realize that we cannot afford to do the work. This leaves us with limited choices and we are looking at other ways in which we might be able to achieve a similar result.
When we engaged you – you made it clear that the design process would either cover the cost of the design or you would take the cost off the work should we commission you to do the work. I requested a change in the design once and only once and you said that you were happy to do so. There was no reference to any additional cost for doing that work if there had been I would not have asked you to make the change! You always said and stressed it nin our initial conversations that it was one fee and one fee only – that’s why we chose you.
In addition, the recent discussions you’ve had with David outlines the potential cost of the build less the original design fee paid – there’s no mention of additional design costs factored into it. I understand that you are now trying to charge us for that work and we are apparently in an ‘open contract’ – this is news to me! A contract is meant to be transparent something some one has said to me or I can read and reference, even an open one. We are not in any kind of open contract.
There is no contractual basis upon which you can charge more, I have never agreed to it verbally in advance to you changing any of the plans.
Steve you need to know we will not be paying any additional fees.
We contracted on completing a design that if we decided to go ahead with you you would subtract the fee off the amount on the building works. And if we did not we would be able to walk away with those plans. We ask you to honor that agreement.
Kind regards
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

Could we have the background detail please?

He appears to allege that you asked for extra work which he says is outside the contract and you are saying that it was a fixed-price contract.

As much background detail is possible would be helpful.


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
We commissioned him to design an extension signed an agreement that he would provide a design for £4500 and if we decided to go ahead would take the price of the design off the build. And if we didn't we would have the plan. The whole point of paying the £4.5k was so he wouldn't be out of pocket as he had a history in the past for doing it for free and not being recompensed. He never stated that we would be charged for any redesign. We set a really strict budget and the design that came in was over budget. I asked for one change he agreed and said that he would not charge us. We've been going backwards and forwards for months talking about budgets - we have a strict budget and it's still too expensive. We decided to stop, we asked for our plans and he has asked us to pay the additional fees. None of the drawings are detailed plans at all. He states that he would not have done the redesign if he thought we weren't going to go ahead! And has become really aggressive. His reference to me laughing, l picked up the phone at home did not know it was him and had been mucking about with my 2 daughters. I was laughing at them - my husband was dealing with the situation and l asked him to call him on his mobile. I find his insinuation that l was laughing at him genuinely perplexing! That's it.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

Whether you have gone ahead with this or not is not relevant. He agreed to do the design for a fixed cost and that not unreasonably included any changes. Further, he agreed that the changes would be at no extra cost.

I don’t know when you’ve paid his £4500 or not but I get the impression you have. You are entitled to your plans.

I would tell him that you have no intention of paying him any more money and if he thinks he is entitled to it, then you must sue you in the Small Claims Court and who will defend those proceedings. Further, you will, your discretion, ask for a court order for him to either 1: return the full amount of money to you and he can do what he likes with the plans, 2: an order for him to give you the plans back, 3: if you have to get the plans done somewhere else at a greater cost, as the court to return the £4500 to you plus any additional costs charged by another architect.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.


F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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