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Jamie-Law
Jamie-Law, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor
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I hired a self employed electrician/builder to carry out and

Customer Question

I hired a self employed electrician/builder to carry out and project manage (PM) a substantial extension to my house. I provided all of the architect drawings for the project. The project manager was required to submit separate engineering calculations for the extension and these needed to be approved by the local authority under their own building regulation guidelines. The PM obtained a verbal quote for the works from an engineering company for the entire project, mid way through the build some of works got altered and a recalculation of the numbers was required. No hourly rates or numbers were ever discussed with me as the owner of the property and the PM arranged all of this himself. I was told by the PM as to the cost and that once all calcs had been approved and provided that he would instruct me to settle. I was asked to pay the agreed sum which I did. A few weeks later I received a bill for a sum three times the amount previously paid with the comment for the extra work carried out. I had never or have since ever spoken to the engineer and the PM tells me he never received any notice of uplift in fees, the engineering firm has never provided a schedule of fees and charges just a verbal sum to the PM which as I said I paid on the PMs instruction once the work had been carried out. There are two further issues in addition to the extra invoice. 1) Completion of the extension required further engineering calcs which were in the original drawings and due to this dispute for which I approached another company - personally and outside of my PM. Being wary I ensured that I duly received full written details of the terms and payment requirements etc and both parties fulfilled the contract properly, 2) Other parts of the remaining building have started to either slip, heave or deteriorate as a result of the new extension and a structural engineer is now investigating. The questions therefore are, i) Is the revised invoice cost enforceable as no terms, fees, rates etc were ever agreed, indicated or actually provided or given , only a sum for all of the calcs for the building? ii) Am I responsible for the revised invoice or is this firmly at the foot of the PM who appointed the engineer ? iii) Should I counter sue the engineer for my increased costs involved of appointing a second engineer? and iv) Should I instigate proceedings against the first engineer for wrongful calculations given the movement of the old structure following the building work carried out?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi Ben
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Hi there. How long ago did this occur?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Building work started last August and I eventually sacked the PM with most of the work completed back in April.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court for the remainder of today so will prepare my advice in a while and 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. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks Ben. I just cannot see how I can be responsible for any uplift in a fee that had not been agreed or where hourly rates charges etc etc were never provided to the PM let alone me. I have been given court papers on this and will fight tooth and nail as I cannot see where I have a contract. I can see where I can counter sue especially if his calcs were wrong
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

No problem at all. I will look into this and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, I experienced some temporary connection issues and could not get back on the site until now. All appears to be resolved now so I can continue dealing with your query.

To answer your questions:

{C}i) Is the revised invoice cost enforceable as no terms, fees, rates etc were ever agreed, indicated or actually provided or given , only a sum for all of the calcs for the building?

The company should have kept you up to date with the fees and rates and given you an indication if there was going to be a substantial increase when compared to the fees that were initially agreed. This may have been impliedly communicated to you if you knew what their rates were for specific work or time, so that even if they did not give you a specific amount, by keeping you up to date with the time it is taking them to complete you knew what that would be charged at and could keep a track. However, to suddenly come up with a brand new cost when they did not seek your approval or give you any indication throughout, is unlikely to be considered reasonable and enforceable.

{C}ii) Am I responsible for the revised invoice or is this firmly at the foot of the PM who appointed the engineer

It is likely to be you as the PM would have been your agent and you employed them and gave them authority to deal with this work on your behalf. So unless the PM had acted negligently in their work, you would be responsible as the principal

{C}iii) Should I counter sue the engineer for my increased costs involved of appointing a second engineer?

If their work has been substandard and not to a reasonable standard then you can consider taking action against them for the costs of putting things right and rectifying the issues, so yes you can indeed do this if required

{C}iv) Should I instigate proceedings against the first engineer for wrongful calculations given the movement of the old structure following the building work carried out?

That would depend on whether their actions were negligent and a reasonable engineer in their position would have been expected to make the correct calculations given the circumstances and information they had. So if they had acted negligently you may indeed consider instigating legal action against them to pursue them for compensation.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the steps you need to take should you decide to take things further. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

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

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi BenApologies for delay in reply but have been overseas until this morning.What I am having trouble understanding here is where I have a contract with the engineering firm and how I can assume the liability for the invoice.1- I had appointed a contractor to carry out all works and project manage the building. I had an agreement with him that any single item with a cost over £2,500 needed my agreement. I did not get involved on any of the negotiations on any agreement. On this case I did check with my Architect if the thought the estimated fees for his plans of £3,500 and he said these were in range. I had never been provided or my contractor had never been provided with ant rates fees estimated cost etc. other than the verbal advice that the cost for the plans were around £3,500
2- I only gave authority for the cost as advised, i.e. £3,500 for the engineering to plan
3- The verbal contract was to provide engineering calcs to plan and were fully inclusive. My contractor/PM said, the estimated costs for all calcs including changes here and there depending on council etc. are in the region of £3,500 for everything to finish. I have had to get the engineering work calculated by another company outside of this, They provided me with an estimate a schedule of fees and an estimated delivery time etc. as well as a scope of their works to completion with the council. Surely this amount must be claimable against the original engineers. It is not a question that their work was substandard rather it was not done at all
4- Now that I have issue on the old part of the house I guess I will have to prove negligence on the part of the engineer in failing to view this when carrying out their calcs?
5- I don’t really want to waste your time going backwards and forwards until I hear what I believe is correct save, I have never agreed anything with these guys, neither myself or my contractor were advised of any additional costs and the agreement was for services to supply all calculations for the plans shown plus amendments. The agreement was always for a fee not exceeding £3,500
6- As far as deflecting this from me and on to my contractor/pm I would have thought that if a contractor purchased a pile of bricks then regardless of where they we used he would be responsible for their cost. If you are suggesting that my contractor/PM was my agent then as he had only agreed a fee for the entire job surely it must be held that additional costs are not applicable.Please let me have your thoughts the these questions and how I defend my case. I have an email from my contractor/PM which states that……..Dear *****, Following on from our discussions on the need for engineering calculations required to satisfy the demands of building inspectors and building regulations would confirm that I have spoken to a firm of engineer who have agreed to carry out all of the calculations needed from your drawings plus any amendments that may be made by the council or us during the building. This will include all technical dialogue with the council until satisfaction and approval. This will be at a cost of circa £3,500 including VAT. I have not got this in writing rather we have left as a verbal agreement that this will be top end. As your contractor and PM on this and being that this above the £2,500 single item price I have to seek your approval for this. Please confirm. I replied, Dear Vince I have spoken with my Architect and others to sound out the cost and this is acceptable please tell the engineer to go ahead provided that we will not go above this sum as we already appear over budget for the build . I received an email back saying Dear ***** I have spoken to the engineer again today who confirms that the cost will not go above the £3,500 including VAT and I have asked him to complete the numbers for the council.What should I do now?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.

What else would you like to know?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I am very very confused now??????????Ben Jones was dealing with my question and on return to the UK I sent him this today........................Hi BenApologies for delay in reply but have been overseas until this morning.What I am having trouble understanding here is where I have a contract with the engineering firm and how I can assume the liability for the invoice.1- I had appointed a contractor to carry out all works and project manage the building. I had an agreement with him that any single item with a cost over £2,500 needed my agreement. I did not get involved on any of the negotiations on any agreement. On this case I did check with my Architect if the thought the estimated fees for his plans of £3,500 and he said these were in range. I had never been provided or my contractor had never been provided with ant rates fees estimated cost etc. other than the verbal advice that the cost for the plans were around £3,500
2- I only gave authority for the cost as advised, i.e. £3,500 for the engineering to plan
3- The verbal contract was to provide engineering calcs to plan and were fully inclusive. My contractor/PM said, the estimated costs for all calcs including changes here and there depending on council etc. are in the region of £3,500 for everything to finish. I have had to get the engineering work calculated by another company outside of this, They provided me with an estimate a schedule of fees and an estimated delivery time etc. as well as a scope of their works to completion with the council. Surely this amount must be claimable against the original engineers. It is not a question that their work was substandard rather it was not done at all
4- Now that I have issue on the old part of the house I guess I will have to prove negligence on the part of the engineer in failing to view this when carrying out their calcs?
5- I don’t really want to waste your time going backwards and forwards until I hear what I believe is correct save, I have never agreed anything with these guys, neither myself or my contractor were advised of any additional costs and the agreement was for services to supply all calculations for the plans shown plus amendments. The agreement was always for a fee not exceeding £3,500
6- As far as deflecting this from me and on to my contractor/pm I would have thought that if a contractor purchased a pile of bricks then regardless of where they we used he would be responsible for their cost. If you are suggesting that my contractor/PM was my agent then as he had only agreed a fee for the entire job surely it must be held that additional costs are not applicable.Please let me have your thoughts the these questions and how I defend my case. I have an email from my contractor/PM which states that……..Dear *****, Following on from our discussions on the need for engineering calculations required to satisfy the demands of building inspectors and building regulations would confirm that I have spoken to a firm of engineer who have agreed to carry out all of the calculations needed from your drawings plus any amendments that may be made by the council or us during the building. This will include all technical dialogue with the council until satisfaction and approval. This will be at a cost of circa £3,500 including VAT. I have not got this in writing rather we have left as a verbal agreement that this will be top end. As your contractor and PM on this and being that this above the £2,500 single item price I have to seek your approval for this. Please confirm. I replied, Dear Vince I have spoken with my Architect and others to sound out the cost and this is acceptable please tell the engineer to go ahead provided that we will not go above this sum as we already appear over budget for the build . I received an email back saying Dear ***** I have spoken to the engineer again today who confirms that the cost will not go above the £3,500 including VAT and I have asked him to complete the numbers for the council.What should I do now?
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

Ben was dealing with it, but he has opted out. Do you ant me to asssit you?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi Jamie, bit confused by this and the opted out comment. Which if this is the case then yes please can you help here? Do you need any additional info or can you see the string of exchanges?Kind RegardsPaul
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

I agree I cant see you have liability. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 they must act with all reasonable skill and care. They have gone beyond any authority and indeed racked up costs without your express permission.

This was agreed and therefore a term of the contract.

I can not therefore see how you are liable for these additional costs. You have a defence under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

If this answers your question could I invite you rate my answer 3, 4 or 5 stars before you leave today.

I am only paid for my work on this question if you rate my answer, using the star system at the top of the screen. Please do not forget! Thank you.

Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Sorry Jamie I have now been passed Judgement order which I will oppose just don't see how this is possible.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

I dont quite understand, what do you mean?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I opened post today to see that I have been issued with a general form of judgement Order to which I have sent attached letter
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

Did you file a defence beforehand?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
NO I HAVE NOT PREVIOSULY RECEIVED ANY PAPERS WHATSOEVER.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
THERE HAVE BEEN LOTS OF THREATS BUT NOTHING CONCRETE AND I HAVE TOLD THEM AND THEIR SOLICITORS THAT I REFUTE ALL BILLS
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I sent this to Birketts in August and nothing since.........
From: Jeffrey, Paul
Sent: 17 August 2016 13:03
To: '*****@******.***'
Subject: RE: Ashlea, Fambridge Road, Mundon. Maldon [BIRKETTS-Legal.FID7265482]Dear SirsI have now returned to the country and have had the opportunity to review your letter in detail.In response, it just appears that we are going over old ground where I have previously stated my position to you and your client. For the benefit of further doubt I would reiterate this as follows.- You are correct in that Vincent Green was the Contractor and project manager on this build, he was engaged as the contractor/PM for the build and as such all matters relating to the build should be more correct addressed to him. As I have stated repeatedly he was the sole person appointing, ordering, quoting etc. etc. on all aspects of this build. He paid all suppliers for all materials etc. through his accounts with these various suppliers of which your client was one of many. I paid all monies in relation to the build to him as contractor. As I mentioned previously the only reason I settled directly with your client was due to speed and was requested by the PM/contractor; making the payment did not infer any contractual issue with me due to the reasons stated herein. On the point that you specifically refer - the cost of the engineer calculations for the entire build were all verbally agreed by JP Chick to him as per the plans passed to him by drawn by the architect, these were not extended as you infer to include steel beams in the lounge as there were always steel beams detailed in the plans. The cost of these calculations as reported to me was just under £3,500 – for the entire project and I understand included all of the reports etc. to Maldon council . I reiterate for clarity that being mindful from experience as to how some project managers/contractors are known to work; charging over and above quoted rates and taking a fee for all services handled when paying them; I asked a couple of other engineers privately and without the PM/contractor knowing just to make sure I was not being taken for a ride, these quotes were coming out between £4,200 and £5,000 so I let the PM/contractor get on with the contract he had agreed with your client.I had to obtain quotations for the additional calculations needed (to complete the build) - subsequent to your clients unfinished work (incidentally one of the other engineers I obtained a quote for the whole job from) and which I have alluded to will be a potential counter claim – should your client wish to take this matter forward - for the structural integrity of the hall. On this particular issue the engineering company concerned provided me with a professional quote (similar to the first one they provided me) with a written price, hourly rates for works depending on the person at their organisation involved, a contract, payment terms a delivery date for submission of the calculations and the supporting detail that they would provide to the council to complete the job request. This was all signed sealed and delivered including various site visits up to satisfactory completion with the council. No such similar professional evidence has been supplied by your client for his agreement with the PM/contractor responsible for my build other than the verbal agreement made between the contractor and your client.- Going back to your comments I do not want to get too involved in this as I have no knowledge of anything being radically changed or that you may or may not have supplied further details. As far as I am concerned and what has been repeatedly confirmed to me by the PM/contractor is that your client quoted for the entire job; this included potential changes/modifications as deemed necessary to the plan as this was easier to accommodate. I have only ever been told of this verbal quote for all works to be carried out as per the plans and this was back in in September last year. I can confirm that a chimney was indeed knocked down but having spoken to the PM/contractor and reviewed pictures taken at this time that that this was also back in September. All photographs of the progression of the build are dated in support. All steels were all ordered and all paid for in early October.- It is quite plain that your client is simply trying to extract excessive unwarranted, non-contractual substantial sums for works he may have underestimated here (albeit only a few hundred pounds given the quotes I received independently of the contracrtor) and I can only suggest that this is referred to the courts to adjudicate on. I will reiterate once again that I have never been supplied with a schedule of fees, the PM/contractor to my knowledge has never been supplied with a schedule of fees, I have never been supplied with an offer of contract, the PM/contractor has only been offered a verbally binding contract for the job bein
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 1 month ago.

Just to be clear, there is judgemnt against you? When is that order dated?

Customer: replied 25 days ago.
Sorry Jamie I have been away in Middle east on business will revert in morning
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 25 days ago.

Sure.

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
Hi JamiePlease see attached various papers1- Email exchange with my contractor/Project Manager relating to the increased cost of £7,000+
2- Email exchange I have had with other side and their lawyers
3- Papers I have received from the court and my reply. I have to reply by 18th November
4- Independent survey from structural engineer as now having issues with integrity of the build. This has been passed to insurance company and could be to do with the quality of Chicks works. These were questioned in document at 5 below
5- Increased cost and copy invoice and contract from Thomasons who were engaged to complete missing work from Chick, This also questions the work carried out by Chick as highlighted in 4 aboveGuess question now is.....what do I do as have to put reply/defense to court. Do you need anything else?ThanksPaul
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 23 days ago.

Thanks. All you need to do is file a defence to the particulars of claim.

They should have set the claim out in the following format:

1. Parties

2. Agreement

3. Implied terms

4. Express terms

5. Breach

They have not. All you need to do is file a defence saying:

1. The Defendant is embarrassed by the proper lack of particulars and the Court is invited to note the are not of the format required by the civil procedure rules.

2. As such save for any admissions the claim is denied.

That is all you put at this stage.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 23 days ago.
Thanks JamieSo I have no need to file any evidence at this stage, i.e. exchange of emails with claimant and their lawyers, counterclaim for my additional costs from Thomasons, or my contention that I have never entered into a contract with the claimant either directly or through my contractor?I just respond as suggested by you and wait to see next argument sorry representationThank you :)
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 23 days ago.

no need to file evidence of this stage. If you want to make a counter claim you can.

But if it is less than £10,000 you wont be able to claim back any legal fees.

£10,000 is the small claims limit

Can I clarify anything else for you?

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