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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hi, i am a carpenter and i did some work on a barn about a

Customer Question

Hi, i am a carpenter and i did some work on a barn about a year and a half ago,they all so needed some plumbing work done so i could finish the carpentry work,they could not get hold of a plumber for weeks so i said i had done some plumbing in my house but i am not a plumber,they let me do the work so i could finish my carpentry work. now they have sent me a letter saying they have had a leak under the floor and it has been leaking for some time before they found it,they are now going to pursue legal action if i don't go and repair the floor with the next week or so.when i left the job there was no leaks and he was happy with the work i had done,he payed me cash and he did not want a invoice.

can you let me know where i stand please.
Thanks Mr Gardiner
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
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.

How much were you paid to carry out this work please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.
Why did he pay you cash? Did you agree to knock the VAT off or or to make it cheaper for cash?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

he said if he payed me cash can he get it cheaper.

Expert:  James Mather replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. There is a legal doctrine which is
that the courts will not enforce an illegal contract. It would therefore you
agreed to do it cheaper to knock the VAT off for cash and so that you didn't
have to put it through your books, it makes the contract on enforceable in law.
It meant that if he did not pay you, you could not take him to court!

With regard to the defective work, it is not at
all unusual, as you will be aware, (I have a considerable amount of experience
of this) for leaks to happen at some later stage and leaks only happen if the
initial work is defective. It doesn't matter that you may be a plumber or a
joiner or solicitor or whatever, you are still under a duty not to cause damage
even though, an illegal contract is not covered by the terms of the Supply of
Goods and Services Act in that you are not required to carry out the job with
reasonable care and skill.

However don't nail your flag to the mast of any
legal contract because it would be for the judge to decide whether this was
intended to defraud the Inland Revenue always paid cash for convenience. The
payment of cash is not necessarily proof that it was an illegal contract
because shops dealing cash all the time. It is unusual for £800 but I make the
point before you start jumping up and down and thinking that you are off the

Mixed in with this, to complicate the whole
thing, is the issue of negligence and for them to have a claim in negligence
there does not have to be a contract and whilst I believe that the house owner
possibly has no claim in respect of defective work, they do have a claim in
respect of damage resulting from the defective work.

To be honest, from the fact that you have given,
I would not be wanting to go to court. There is another reason and that is but
I also wouldn't want HMRC to be looking at this if the customer decided they
wanted to refer it to them because that could end up with a very expensive and
far reaching investigation.

Leaks do not happen in the ordinary course of
things and I think this is one of those things where you are going to have to
bite the bullet and fix the leak (if it has not been fixed already) and repair
the floor.

The decision is yours of course but at least now,
you know the legal situation.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It wasn't my work that was defective- the leak occurred in an older pipe that I was joining the renewed pipe to, so I wasn't the cause of the leak. What he is now saying 18mnths on - is that I should have renewed all the old pipe, as that is what has to be done now. I did what I was told to do with the materials he supplied me?

I never got paid the full amount we agreed anyway- so in effect- I haven't been paid for that? As it was a verbal agreement though, I had no way of proving that- so decided to just take what he gave me and cut my losses as he is of a very slippery bullying nature!

I am not trying to get out of this per se, but I have the feeling he is trying to bully me into working for nothing for him- for something I am not at all sure I am responsible for?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Other.
i have re-plyed to law denning but is taking a long time for an answer
Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return.

I see you have relisted this, I assume you need help?

Did they say the work was defective until these recent problems? Have they allowed you to fix it or are they saying they are going straight to Court?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


He got a plumber in to fix the leak,which was not on the new pipe or the joints i had fitted. He is saying that i should not have reused old pipe when rerouting under the floor but he did not want to buy more pipe,so he said use the old pipe which we had over.


The letter from him is threatening me with court action if I don't come and do the carpentry work/ tiling now needed to rebuild his bathroom, foc. he says his insurance co won't pay out for all the damage done by this leak, as they don't pay out on hidden pipes? He wants to claim on my insurance- but I am not insured, and if I was it would be as a carpenter/joiner?


He has tried to get free work out of me before as he had gone over his budget, and ended up shortchanging me for a day and a halfs work! But a he was such an awful man to work for, and trying to get him to pay was a nightmare- I cut my losses and took the cash.


All this was 18mnths ago, he text me a few months back, trying to get me to put some of this right for free, but I thought he was just trying it on as thats what he's like, and when I finished the bathroom- all was fine.


He is saying I volunteered to do the plumbing, but that is not quite the case. The plumber wasn't available for 2-3wks, and so he asked if I would be willing to do it as it was holding the job up- so I did. He has sent me pictures of fungus growing out of damp soil and through the floorboards. Apparently he has had an expert look at this and experts are saying the leak must have been there a long time for this type of fungus to grow/ Whether to believe him or not I don't know- he is not a very trustworthy man once you get to know him. He is saying this has cost him thousands including lost revenue from renting the Barns out, but I find that very questionable??


if you need any more questions please let me know

Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
But there wasn't a problem for over a year?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Who knows? I think he is trying to say there was, he had a report done by property preservation specialists. The report lists 2 fungii which will only grow on saturated material. This report was done in July 2013. This company seems to think the plumbing work was done 6months ago, when infact it was done the previous spring.

Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
Have you seen any expert report done on the plumbing? How much is he trying to claim?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

he has sent me a copy of the plumbers invoice for £85.00 and invoice for dehumidifier hire £349.99 which he has payed, also he was going to rent for £1800 a week, so he said in his letter he has lost £7000-£10000 in rent.

Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
Is he saying he actually had a booking for that period which he cancelled?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

no he said in his letter that the barns were almost ready for rent when the leak was discovered.

Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
In that case he would have no claim for loss of rent because he has not lost out, they were almost ready - he did not refund bookings. Further he should have given an opportunity to fix if there was a problem. If it went to Court not only would the customer have to show that the work was faulty, but it was due to bad workmanship. Given it has lasted for over a year, if I read your question correct, this is unlikely. I would have expected any failure to happen very quickly.

Therefore he should reject any claim and put the customer to proof. That is proof that it caused the problem, the leak and that the work was defective. In short any claim is rejected.

In any event if this went to Court it would only be a small claim, that is the cost of repair and patching up and would be a small claim. Also the customer would need Courts permission for an expert report and even then it would need to comply with Court rules and be permitted as evidence - I am sure it is not.

Therefore he should write and deny liability and invite the customer to prove it.

If this answers your question, please take a moment before you leave and rate my service, which I hope has been excellent, it only takes a second and is an important part of the process. Otherwise if you need more information or help then please click reply. Alex

Expert:  Ash replied 4 years ago.
Can I clarify anything for you about your question today? If not, can I invite you to rate my service which I hope has been excellent. If you need more help then please click reply. Thanks - Alex