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Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have had some work carried out by a builder on my garden.

Customer Question

I have had some work carried out by a builder on my garden. There was never any signed contract, agreed payment plan and I have never received any formal invoices. the garden is on split levels and needed a staircase to access the second level. The builder said it would be best to use a spiral staircase. He acquired one and fitted it. When it was fitted it was clear that it would not be fit for purpose as we wanted it to be easily usable for the elderly and children. We had a concrete staircase and bannister installed instead at a cost of £7K. overall we have spent £39k. We requested that the old staircase be removed and that we would not pay for this item. The job is now finished and he is claiming for final payment including the cost of the staircase which is £2250. We are happy to pay for the cost of fitting and removal which is in the final bill but unhappy to pay for the staircase. He said he would put it on ebay and try to sell but would want recourse for any difference or the whole amount if unsold. We have never seen any evidence of what was paid for it. At present I am withholding the whole of the final bill which includes £6100 for the works carried out. he is saying he will take this to small claims court which I would be happy to do. I am happy to pay bill minus the cost of staircase. The staircase is currently stored in my garage. Do I have grounds to challenge this given we have no formal written contract, no written quotes, no formal invoices, nio evidence of purchase?

Thank you
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.


Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this. Just to be clear he is trying to charge you for removing the staircase?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No there are costs for the original fitting, and subsequent dismantling which I am happy to pay. I just want him to take the staircase away without me having to pay for someone I do not want and did not formally agree to in the first place.


Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
How much is he trying to charge to do that specific task please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


He is not asking for any funds to take it away but will not do so unless I pay for it which is £2250

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Sorry but am I missing the point? You accept owing the whole amount? But essentially you want the work completed first which is reasonable?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


The work is completed. The staircase is not required as it has been replaced by a new concrete staircase which the builder has done and I am happy to pay for this. I am not happy to pay for the original spiral staircase which he has left on my garage and is expecting me to cover the cost for. As stated he has said he will take away and then try to sell but if the amount is less than he allegedly paid for it or it does not sell then he I will be out of pocket which I am not happy as I did not formally agree to having the staircase in the first place.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Do you know what the cost of disposal will be roughly?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


The builder has his own truck so it would not cast anything to remove. The issue is who is paying the £2250 for the cost of the staircase.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
It's not quite that simple I'm afraid.

The answer is simple enough. You agreed this would be done. He is liable for the cost of doing so. He may try to argue that wasn't agreed but it isn't likely to be accepted as tradesmen do generally take old goods for a client.

The question though is how it can be enforced. You can withhold the cost of removal but you cannot withhold any sum of your choosing.

You need to ascertain what the cost of doing so would be and deduct that sum from the outstanding.

He may sue. He may not. If he does you will have a very strong defence.

Can I help further?