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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71142
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a contract for building work to be completed in approx.

Customer Question

I have a contract for building work to be completed in approx. 10/12 weeks. The actual build was completed in 8/12 weeks but it took them a further 6 1/2 weeks to resolve all the snagging issues and clear the site of all rubbish. They are now asking for final payment but I don't feel that I should pay the full amount due to the going of the contracted time of 10/12 weeks. The company have said they will start legal proceedings against me if I do not payment the final payment in full by cob 18th October. Can I withhold final payment or some of it for the delay in completing fully in the timescales?
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.

Did you agree that time was of the essence before the work started please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, when I signed the contract it was discussed on many occasions that all work needed to be completed by end of August as I was pregnant and baby was due on 2/9. Verbally they agreed that the work would be completed within 6/8 weeks


Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, but did you use the words time is of the essence in the contract?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

" For Jo C."

No, the contract did not use the words time is of the essence.


Also the Company are saying that snagging issues do not have to be resolved within the contracted time and that the final payment should have been due when the building works was completed on 29th August and not when all the snagging issues and rubbish was removed on 10th October. Is this correct?


Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Sorry for the delay.

It depends on the nature of the snags but, given the overall situation, I am sorry but you have no basis to withhold funds.

You didn't agree that time was of the essence using those words. You could try to argue that you used words having equivalent meaning. However, even if time is of the essence in this contract all that would mean is that when they failed to complete you could have pulled them off the job and got another to complete at their cost. It doesn't mean you can let them complete and refuse to pay.

I have to say that I do think its without merit to say that resolving the issues is not included in the completion of the work. if the issues are not resolved then the job is not complete.

Nevertheless though, if they have done the job then they are entitled to be paid for it I'm afraid.

I'm very sorry if this is bad news.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"For Jo C"


There were many snagging issues but the major ones were sub standard plumbing work which the contractor asked our kitchen fitter to rectify. He was paid for the days work but this resulted in a delay to the fitting of our kitchen and incorrect size of wiring installed for lights and sockets in extension. The wiring installed was not as per building regulations and this was only spotted by an electrician we had on site. Initially both the contractor and sub contractor denied there was a problem but eventually agreed that is was incorrect. This was rectified and resulted in damage to the plasterwork that was rectified and paid for by the electrician.


These issues took nearly a month to resolve resulting in the overall build overrunning.


I would like to withhold some of the final payment to cover the delay and inconvenience to us, can this be done?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
I am sorry but those are not heads of compensation in the uk so you cannot. They are entitled to be paid I'm afraid
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"For Jo C"

So basically they can take as long as they want to rectify problems even though the contract states 10-12 weeks, seems a little unfair. If we had terminated the contract we would have been left without any guarantees for the work or doors windows etc so we let them make good their errors, which were not minor and now we have to pay in full?


What is the point of stating timescales in a contract if they can just overrun and still receive full payment?



Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
The point of timescales is that potentially you can ask them not to finish. What you cannot do is get them to finish for free