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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I recently agreed for a builder to carry out renovation work

Customer Question

I recently agreed for a builder to carry out renovation work on my property. However, I did not get a quote in writing but advised the builder that I had a budget of £10k to stop work once the budget had been reached. However, after asking the builder on several occasion for an up to date bill, nothing was forthcoming and after some more persistence, the builder recently called me to say the total bill was £21k (£10k already paid in cash as a bank loan). What makes this more problematic, is the builder is my boss's husband and I trusted him to stick to the plan. I am now feeling financially insecure and concerned about how to proceed with the outstanding balance.
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.

What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Where do I stand? Do I have to pay the outstanding £11k as we do not have anything in writing?

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name is Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.
Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day most weekdays and weekends.

I have been asked to look at this by my colleague. Did your builder agree to stop at this budget?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, yes he agreed that he would stop. His excuse was things over run and that if he didn't stop, the property would have been left unsafe. However, at no point was the property unsafe. He failed to maintain the account and now expects me to pay.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
If this came to court, how would you convince the judge that you told the builder that you didn't want to spend more than £10,000 and that the builder agreed?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i had told the builder i had applied for a personal loan and gave him the cash to proceed. I explained to the builder on numerous occassions that i had tried to secure further finance to proceed with the project but i had been unsuccessful. He still carried on with the work and knew my situation. I am not trying to get out of paying for work, in just shocked that intrusted him with a budget and his incompetance leaves me with debt didn't or could afford to pay. I also have a text which i sent to the builder 4 weeks ago highlighting my concerns and requesting work to stop if over the inital amount. It took a further 4 weeks for him to come back to me with the final bill.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Aha..Do you still have that text? Did he acknowledge it?

Do you accept that the work was going to cost more to finish than you budgeted for at outset? If so, why did you start?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i still have the text but no acknowledgement.


i accept the work was going to be more than the original budget, but certain work was required, new windows, lintels, a small proportion of the roof. However, i anticipated

increasing my loan once i knew certain work had been done.



Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. I have my judges hat on.

Did he know that you needed further finance?

So why cant you do that now as the work has been done?


Did he know at very start to stop at £10k?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He knew exactly my position. I explained that once the original 10k was used, all work should stop and I would arrange further finance (including selling my car).


However, my argument is that I would never have instructed him to carry out repairs totalling £21k because I knew I could afford it at the time. I just believe that he has committed me to paying well over and above what I expected.


He knew my position from the start and I reiterated the fact that I couldn't afford to pay him over £10k.


If I have to find the money, I will pay him, but I just think its wrong the continue work which I couldn't afford.


I don't think I am explaining myself too good. Im just so annoyed with this matter.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Imagine you are in court.

I am the judge asking the questions.

Can you please answer the questions directly because he takes you
to court, they are the ones you are going to be asked.

Sorry to be so pedantic and I understand how you are annoyed with
him, but if he does take you to court, I want you to have the best chance of it
coming down in your favour.