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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I have had a faulty window installed in my home. The fitter/supplier

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I have had a faulty window installed in my home. The fitter/supplier insists I must pay in full before the will come back to repair the window. I am nervous to pay the outstanding 20% balance before the repair is made. But they are insisting noting will be done until I make payment in full. They are also threatening to begin charging me 2% interest on the outstanding balance due. Should I hold firm and not pay or pay? How will I best protect myself?
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to be able to assist with your question today. Please let me know if it is obvious the window is faulty or if you will need to get a third party to confirm that?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It is obvious. It is aesthetic mainly. I have sent them images of all the problems. But because they say my property is secure and water tight I have to pay.

When you have entered into a contract for work and materials, where the main focus is labour and skill, the law says that the work must be:
• Carried out with reasonable care and skill – i.e. to a proper standard of workmanship;
• Finished within a reasonable time (unless a specific time has been agreed); and
• Provided at a reasonable cost (unless a specific price has been agreed).

In addition, any materials provided as part of the work must:
• Match their description
• Be of satisfactory quality

If there are problems with the standard of work, or the materials used, you will have certain rights.

If work has already started, and there has been some breach of contract by the other side, you would usually be expected to give them the opportunity to rectify the problem. However, if you can justify why they should not be given such an opportunity, for example, if work has been left in a dangerous condition or their work is obviously below-par, you could refuse to do so.

In terms of potential compensation, you may be entitled to that in the following circumstances:
• The work was not carried out with reasonable care and skill, or finished within a reasonable time;
• The builder has been negligent in their work;
• You have accepted a repair, which turns out to be unsatisfactory;
• The services are unsafe and someone has suffered injury
• You have incurred additional expenses or suffered inconvenience because of the builder’s breach of contract.

In order to resolve any problems that have arisen, it is generally accepted that you follow the following steps:

1. Collect all documents relating to the works (e.g. estimate, contract, correspondence, etc.).
2. Contact the builder and explain your problem. Ask for a refund, a repair, or compensation and set a reasonable time limit for them to respond (usually 7-14 days). You do not have to pay them the full deposit if they have not completed the work to a reasonable standard
3. If you are still dissatisfied, find out whether the builder is a member of a trade association with a mediation service that can help resolve your complaint. If they are not, you may wish to obtain an expert opinion from an independent builder to back up your claim.
4. If the matter is still not resolved, write to the builder repeating your complaint and the steps you have taken. Say you are giving them a final 7 day time limit to resolve the problem or you will ask another builder to carry out the work and you intend to recover their costs from them. Advise them that you will not hesitate to issue legal proceedings to seek compensation.
5. If the builder makes an alternative offer, you can either accept or continue to negotiate. Be reasonable and realistic in what you will accept. You may not get an improved offer by going to court.
6. If the builder fails to respond or refuses to resolve the problem, you can get a different builder to complete the work and consider suing the original builder for part of these extra costs. Remember that court is your last resort and you will need sufficient evidence to prove your claim. In particular, you will have to show that the builder is responsible for the problem and you may have to provide expert evidence.

Finally, make sure that you send all correspondence by recorded delivery and keep copies.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you. But I am still unsure if I should pay!? They claim they will make repairs only after payment. But if I pay and they don't keep their promise them I am in the painful situation of legal action. Which I want to avoid.

You do not have to pay, but then again you cannot force them to do the repairs either. So either way you could be stuck and may have to resort to legal action if necessary
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Could they send a debt collector after me if I don't pay? And how expensive is the small claims court process if I do pay and they don't do the repairs?

they can potentially send debt collectors but they cannot do anything apart from threaten you and pursue until you pay - they cannot force you to pay, only the courts can do that. The small claims court fees will vary depending on what amount is being pursued, it starts at about £25 to make a claim