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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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We wish to seek advice on where legally we stand if we end a

Resolved Question:

We wish to seek advice on where legally we stand if we end a contract with a tradesman we have hired, whether we will not stand a chance to recuperate the money for materials we are yet to receive or whether the tradesmen can in fact sue us for damages for the remaining cost of the work?
We have employed a tradesmen who provided a quote stating that the work would be completed within 4/5 days but he did not provide a contract.
He started the work on time but has failed to complete it which is now over three weeks nearly four weeks overdue. He has not been to complete any work for over three weeks. He has stated multiple reasons for not coming during this time and at times been very hard to get hold off and get any definitive details from him. His most recent communication was that he could come this Sunday or we could employ someone else.
We stated that as he has left all his tools and equipment at our property and he has over a £1000 of our money for outstanding materials we have not received, this was not possible and he would have to return on Sunday to complete the job as he stated.
Since he agreed to come back on Sunday we have been informed from the website we hired him off that they have received multiple complaints about the tradesmen starting work, asking for money and not completing the work in a reasonable timescale. They have permanently closed his account as has he failed to take action to rectify the issues. The management of the company advised us to contact consumer advice to open a case. Which we have done, we explained the situation and was advised that we give him this final chance otherwise if the matter escalates to small claims we could be seen as the unreasonable party.
We were also were advised to get other quotes in case he did not show Sunday and we had to take further action to approximately know the value of rectifying his work. We have had one other tradesman evaluate the work to which he informed us that the tradesman had not put in any drainage and should have as water is now being directed towards the house, we have also been left with an unsafe environment full of loose paving slabs. These issues have not yet been discussed with the tradesman.
We feel we have had good reason to suspect he had no original intention of coming back to our property to finish the work on the Sunday as we are aware of at least two of his other clients that had been told the same.
However in the meantime he has now stated that "we should not be under any illusion" that it will be finished on Sunday as previously stated in an email. We asked for a definite completion date within the next 7 days to which he has not responded to.
His poor communication and our knowledge that he had offered to go back to two other sites on the same day left us with doubt to whether he had intentions to come back to our property. As he had shown no concern during the past 4 weeks to his equipment and tools being left on our property in an insecure garden we became concerned. After further investigation we found out that the equipment is outstanding to a hire company.
The tradesman became aware that we had phoned the hire company and replied back to a unresponsed email sent the previous day about what time we should expect him on Sunday with an unprofessional response stating that, that would depend if he would have any equipment and questioned why we would discuss his business despite agreeing to coming back on Sunday.
We sent back a full email explaining our reasons and concerns including that we were aware he has been permanently banned from the website we hired him from, has several outstanding jobs outside a reasonable timescale, his communication has been poor, his lack of punctuality, he has shown no concern for the equipment on our property which we have felt responsible for, he has offered to go back to three sites in total on Sunday. We asked for clarification what his plans were on Sunday. To which he has disregarded any concerns we stated, not provided any reassurance, not offered any explanation for his dismissal or complaints made to the website we hired him from or his unprofessional email which we highlighted. Only stating he will be coming tomorrow but cannot provide a time.
Unfortunately due to the issues of his work we are now aware of, his lack of professionalism and the fact that so much time has passed from the agreed timescale we no longer have trust in the tradesman.
Please advise if we are now within our rights to refuse access to our property and pursue a refund of our money for the materials outstanding? Thank you.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 month ago.

Try to get it in writing (text is fine) that he has said that he will come back Sunday or you can get someone else. That would be enough to allow you to get someone else and for him not to be able to claim in court that you were in breach of contract but not allowing him to finish.

You cannot sell his tools to recoup any deposit which you have given him.

If he will not return deposit, then you will have to sue him in the Small Claims Court.

With regard to the defective work, you are entitled to recover from him, any money over and above what you’ve paid in respect of the value of that work, if it costs more money to put it right.

For example, if he lays a patio and he quotes you £2000, £1000 deposit plus £1000 on completion.

He makes a mess of the job and the whole thing costs £3000 to put right, you are entitled to recover the extra £1000 from him, so that the whole job only costs you what he quoted in the first place.

I suggest that you put the last request in writing, that if he does not arrive by Sunday to finish the job, you will get it done elsewhere but that you want your deposit back.

It’s important that if it does get to court, you have quotations for getting work done (not estimates, quotations) and a report on the defects the work which has already been done.

After the Sunday deadline, you are under a duty to mitigate your loss and that would include getting the job finished, paying the bill, and then seeking any repayment from the tradesmen.

Just make sure that he’s had ample time and you do warn him that unless he completes the job within, the next seven days, you will be taking him to the Small Claims Court.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It is an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi FES,I just want to clarify something, so even though we have originally agreed and told him that he could come back and he has already stated that he would. If he does arrive at the property today, we are now entitled to refuse for him to complete the job without being in breach of contract as he has stated we could get somone else to finish the job prior to us then agreeing he could come back (we do have this in an email)?Also we have previously stated a week ago in an email if he does not come today or with the materials we have paid for, then we will have to employ someone else and request a refund from him. Is an email sufficient?Thanks
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 month ago.

If you’ve already told him that he can come back today and he does, then let him. If he screws the job up, you can still sue him for the cost of putting it right.

If he doesn’t come today, he said that you could get someone else and it’s not unreasonable, even if he had not said that, for you to get the job done because you can’t wait forever.

If you get someone else in to finish the job after today, I think you have done sufficient to fend off any breach of contract claim he may bring. He might try it, but I can’t see it succeeding.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for your advice

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