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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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I'm having a financial dispute with my builder after

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Hi
I'm having a financial dispute with my builder after completing on an extension. He is quoting additional charges retrospectively outside of the agreed contract. I owe another £6400 Inc VAT by my calculations and he was asking for another £16k plus VAT. He's now offered to settle on £10k plus VAT and I'm due to pay another £4800 this week. My question is, should I withhold the payment I owe until I settle on a final total bill or should I pay the £4800 and then sit on the rest? I'm not sure how the court would view it (if he puts a claim against me) if I withhold what I owe... Thank you
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

How long ago was the work completed? Also, has he provided you with a full breakdown of the costs/invoice?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
The work was completed at the beginning of this year around January 2016 with final snags done in April 2016. There have however been more snags since then (damp, cracks in walls and the French doors don't open and close properly yet I've got no warranty docs for them). I was going to withhold the final c. £1600 if snags aren't addressed, that was until more money was demanded. I've requested a proper VAT invoice on two occasions but I'm being ignored - he's adding on all sorts of ridiculous charges now and threatening to recalculate original costs as he 'gave us a good deal'. I did technically agree to pay £4800 this week but after the recent saga I'm worried by paying him it'll continue so I don't know if I'm within my rights to say I'm not paying anything further without a full invoice
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I'll send you the previous 3 emails to help make sense of it...
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
TonyWITHOUT PREJUDICE & CONFIDENTIALI’m taken aback by your recent messages, talk of poor reviews, injunctions and slander, and showing me documents from someone else’s court dispute with you. I’m not sure why you’ve gone down that path as at no point have I threatened to make a poor review, and I don’t appreciate what appear to be threats.I’ve made my points clear and I am not prepared to pay any further sums until this matter is resolved. To avoid the back and forth, I now request that you send me the following;A proper full and final invoice listing all of the work done that was either agreed in writing, either by contract on the 5th of October 2015 or agreed in writing. I do not accept retrospective charges that have been added on post the job being complete that were never discussed nor agreed.
The back door key(s) that you still currently have in your possession, that is assuming that you are no longer happy to complete the job and deal with the remaining “snags” which we have already discussed.
The warranty documents for the Velux window skylights and french doors which, as I’ve previously commented on before, have had a lot of issues and upon closer inspection appear to be fitted incorrectly.Responding on some of your previous points that you messaged me;I do not dispute that we are happy with most of the work that has been done to date, I do however feel let down by the “moving of the goal posts” and additional, and unauthorised, charges that you are now claiming for retrospectvely. If you can show me written evidence of either of us authorising each additional claim that you’re now making, then it’s a different discussion. However, at no point did we agree additional charges to include, but not limited to; the kitchen wiring, "bad walls”, project management, time filling skips (even the skip charge itself is outside the agreed £290 per skip with the first 3 being FOC), skirting (which was always included in the flooring quote which we were very reasonable on to allow for you to make a profit on our chosen flooring), and various other TBA items as marked on your previous statements.
You say that the kitchen fitting was understated as was the extension, but that is entirely on you. You quoted at the set price before the work was undertaken and had the right to refuse any aspect of the job at the time - we could have sought help elsewhere which is what we offered to do initially with the electrician after you increased the price simply because we weren’t opting for your kitchen supplier. You then however offered an all in quote of £4,800 for all of the electrics - again, if this was on hindsight a cheap quote in your opinion after the fact, then that is on you.
On several occasions, you say that we promised you a good review. Only recently did I say that we would consider writing a review, but only once the job was complete (which due to the snags to be addressed, it is not). Furthermore, I’m amazed that you believe we would write a positive review whilst we are currently dissatisfied with recent events and are seeking to come to an amicable resolution to settle the bill.To this end, please send me the requested information and in the meantime, I maintain my right to withhold any further payments as the job isn't yet completed due to the many snagging issues which have been raised previously and yet remain unaddressed - alternatively, I can have another contractor undertake the snagging work and take the charges off any remaining sum that may be owed.I do not feel there is a large difference but your latest offer of £10,000 + VAT as full and final settlement is still far beyond what has been agreed to date.I maintain that I am willing to still propose a sum of £6,452.18 inclusive of VAT as full and final settlement, £4,800 of which I am happy to pay immediately once an agreement is reached. The remaining amount would then be payable once the final snagging issues have been addressed. Alternatively, if you are no longer happy to "make good" the job then I can allocate this remaining sum to another contractor to complete the job.I shall wait to hear from you.Many thanks,Craig
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Hi Craig and VI've received your email.Unconditionally to anything in your latest email or before you made a promise to pay £4800.00 by later this week.We did come to your house while you were on honeymoon, you said you couldn't pay until this week because you spent all your money on your wedding. Despite this, we continued in our attempt to address the post-it-note after receiving communication from you saying we were completed on the works after attending to the snagging in the house save for cleaning the garden 11/4/2016.The date of that completion and satisfaction note was sent to me 11th April 2016 completing the post-it-notes as final snagging. There's no confusion here.The contract was completed at that stage save for cleaning the garden which you wrote in the same message.We have addressed the lime Chipping's for boiler drip having been removed by whomever! However for good relations I myself will purchase and place then back in the original place. But only if payment is reviewed.You should keep to your promise as we acted in good faith to attempt entry to your home when you were away on honeymoon but never the less the Payment was not conditional in this post-note(s) being addressed. If we had gotten entry then all would have been done as a gesture of good will .I've never said at anytime that we wouldn't comeback despite your concerns about your latest grizzly list which is used to help you attend delaying payment.I therefore having looked back at your other messages that you sayid you were happy to let others look at our work and you would give a positive review. l think your changing your mind, your mind change is not about the quality of workmanship, its about what you owe.In order to attempt good relations on this blip we are happy to re attend when we have time.The fact remains that you did say payment will be with us later this week. In fairness I'm holding you to this and that's because we've gone far and beyond in our endeavours to meet your needs which is proven in your message 11/4/2016.Please confirm Payment by return.Kind Regards
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Tony
WITHOUT PREDUJICE & CONFIDENTIAL
If you refer to my messages that I sent you on the 17th of August at 9.04pm and on the 18th of August at 10.51am you’ll see that I already raised the point that I’m not comfortable paying out any more money whilst you continue to demand additional charges that were never agreed. I’ve often referred to paying once settled and talked about needing to get the final amount bottomed out on my message on the 18th.
Your reference to the 11th of April meant the work inside the house was completed, but the agreement was always that you’d return to the job to “make good” any snagging issues. Reasonable care and skill should have been undertake when you carried out this work and it’s common for a builder to return to a job to correct issues that have incurred from their work when it’s only been a few months – these issues with the pop marks, cracking, and the french doors not opening and closing correctly couldn’t be flagged on the 11th of April as they didn’t exist at the time. Granted, the damp issue we have needs the chimney sorted, which I’ll have to find a contractor to do, before I can repaint the second bedroom.
I’m aggrieved at the way things are now playing out and did not expect to have these issues given your email on the 17th of March in which you stated “We went through this final sum of money in your kitchen. Nothing else to talk about. You agreed in the kitchen at a final payment of £40k. There's £30k outstanding.” – given what we’ve paid to date, my proposal of £6452.18 as full and final settlement exceeds the amount that you said was outstanding as final payment and that was post the work being done. It’s therefore a generous offer and yet you are asking for more money and are going back on what we’ve previously agreed.
The £4,800 isn’t conditional on the post-it notes being addressed and never was – as I said I can have another contractor fix the work you’ve done, deal with the snagging issues, and take off the difference. The £4,800 cannot however be paid until we agree a final bill so you can either accept my proposal as full and final settlement, or send me a complete and final VAT invoice listing all the work done that we agreed in writing as per my request in the email I sent you early this morning.
I do not want to keep doing this back and forth as I just don’t have the time and feel that we’re going round in circles. I won’t therefore be responding to any further messages or emails unless it is a response to either accept the proposed offer, or action the above request.
Many thanks,
Craig
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Craig.Theses are just a few photos of the snagging done in February March and April fulfilling the snagging. Clearly yellow post it notes are snagging which you called us back three times to do.It's unfair to hold back money for your promise to pay. I'm not looking to deep into your without prejudice email as I feel it gets nowhere.You made a promise to pay I'm expecting that promise to be full filled tomorrow latest.I'm a man of my word. I'm more than happy to send someone back now that you've messed us around several times in not allowing us in to your house while you were away.The facts are that I'm more than happy to move forward on this blip as I see it. It's the first little blip we've had and in order to move forward I'm looking for that payment tomorrow latest.We've done nothing wrong. All we've done for you us to meet your needs.The post it notes are secondary and do full outside the 6 months timings but like I say I'm prepared to send someone over as soon as we have time. Line i say we attended twice to your home already while you were away and did nothing to get the door unlocked.Any withholding of the £4800.00 will be seen by me in you not wanting to pay.I've given you so much time to make payment yet here we are last minute not wanting to pay the unconditional undisputed Amount of £4800.00.Let's see by tomorrow evening what the position is.It seems to me that for whatever reason your more than happy to pay another builder to sort your chimney out. Yet you won't pay us?...Like I say I'll await until tomorrow to see if your going to make the agreed payment.The few post it notes that remain around your house the fourth time around seems unjust in your efforts to withhold Payment.At no time have I said we wouldn't return.So again I will await the payment tomorrow.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

OK, thank you for your responses. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your questions to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

Many thanks for your patience. When you have entered into a contract for work and materials, where the main focus is labour and skill, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that the work must be:

· Carried out with reasonable care and skill (to the same standard as any reasonably competent person in that trade or profession);

· Finished within a reasonable time (unless a specific time has been agreed); and

· Provided at a reasonable price (unless a specific price has been agreed).

In addition, any information said or written is binding where the consumer relies on it. This will include quotations and any promises about timescales or about the results to be achieved.

If there is a dispute as to the money owed for the works, if you have an outstanding amount then what you can do is send that and make it clear it is made in full and final settlement for the works in question. If the builder accepts payment then they would be accepting is as a final payment owed and may find it difficult to pursue you for more. If he rejects the payment you have offered then you do not have to pay him the amount that is outstanding and it is up to him to decide how to take this further. He can of course make a court claim to pursue you for what he believes you owe him and it would then be for the court to decide whether this should be payable or if the reduced amount is what would reasonably be expected for payment by you. So as mentioned a payment in full and final settlement may be the best option for now as it at least give you a chance to try and get him to accept it, whether intentionally or not, and make your position stronger in terms of challenging further requests for payment.

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

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thanks, ***** *****'m not sure how I can make it conditional - as in how do I transfer a payment which automatically credits his account and make that statement? I also don't have the £6.5k to go now and it's the £4800 he's pushing for. What will happen is that I'll transfer the amount and he'll then come back for more. If I email to say I'm happy to make the transfer today on the basis that there is only the c. £1600 that remains as full and final payment, he'll just refuse and tell me to transfer the £4800 I owe and that he doesn't accept that there is only that much more to go...
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
That's why I'm asking if a court will frown upon the fact I'm holding off paying the sum we agree I owe to get that final figure. I need a carefully worded email ahead of me transferring the £4800 if that's the route to take. Maybe something like, I've made the payment as I do not dispute that this amount is owed to you, however, no further payments will now be made and I shall consider the matter settled in full without a full and final VAT invoice to evidence any remaining sums owing to you for work that has been agreed in writing. What do you think?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Just received another email... How should I respond?Craig.THIS EMAIL IS OPEN AND NOT CONFIDENTIAL IN ANYWAY.If your minded not to pay today the agreed amount of £4800 then no matter what the position, the other amount also offered which is unconnected to the above sum would seem to me without a final account agreed to beyond this payment be seen as totally disproportionate in regards ***** ***** "positive lock out" at our attempts to address the post-it-notes to give you satisfaction while you were on honeymoon which in any event had fallen outside of the 6 months clause for snagging as applied. Your quick enough to blame the cleaner but you had every opportunity to call her to remove the key. YOU DID NOT CONTACT HER TO REMOVE THE KEY AND PASSED THE BLAME ONTO HER INSTEAD.It's easy to show we started snagging February and finished the snagging 11/4/16 after your continued search for such Minie minor defects that the camera could not pick up on. Although you wanted a budget decorating job you forced perfection. We will affirm competition as at 11/4/16 save for the garden which we all know was done. Post it notes on your wall proves this to be the case. The garden had nothing to do with timings.If your Payment is not made today given your comments made It will also be seen as a last second attempt not to pay for what ever reasons. Your claims for non payment are groundless.Craig I thought you were above this sort of level of playing around.In regards ***** ***** matters, I will provide in due course what you seek.However, if payment is not meet today you would have forced us into dispute. This is not of my making.Regards
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

Hi there, you can try and send a cheque instead, together with a letter. If you have £6.5k outstanding and can only pay part of that now then just send the initial payment as normal, without admitting to anything in the meantime. Then when you have the final sum you are happy to pay you can send the cheque with the letter making it a condition that you are sending it as full and final settlement. So if you need to respond just say that you are making the initial payment now as that is not under dispute and you will settle the remainder in due course, without stating what that is. Then when it comes to paying the final instalment you send it as mentioned above. There is no reason why a court would frown upon that.

If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. If this has answered your question please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars from the top of the page. I spend a lot of time and effort answering individual queries and I am not credited for my time until you leave your rating. If you still need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 months ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.

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Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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