When a person enters 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 frame has been agreed)
· Provided at a reasonable cost (unless a specific price has been agreed)
In addition, any information exchanged in communications between the parties, whether written or verbal, is binding if the consumer relies on it. This will include quotations and any promises about timescales or the results to be achieved.
If there are problems with any of the above, the customer will have certain rights. In the event of cost disputes, sometimes traders can ask for additional money either during or at the end of the work. This is why it is preferable to have a written agreement in place, setting out what price was agreed and what for, so that you can both refer back to it. Any price variations for extra or amended work should have been agreed in writing before the work was done. If you knew that this extra work was being carried out and let the trader continue then a reasonable price would need to be negotiated for it as it may not be possible to completely refuse to compensate them for it. This should however, prevent them from charging for work which was not agreed or communicated.
You can therefore pay only for the originally agreed price and if they want to pursue you for the rest they will have to take this further themselves and justify why it had trebled, but I doubt they would be able to in the circumstances.
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