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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a problem with a client I have done work for who is

Customer Question

I have a problem with a client I have done work for who is refusing to pay a certain ammount owed. is there anybody who deals with self employment and construction law?
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.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


I am a Tiler that works on high end tiling projects.

A couple of years ago all the work I was doing was through Fired Earth and I built up a solid reputation. They called at the end of last year and asked me if i would help them with a job they had undertaken that gone "horribly wrong". Two separate contractors had undertaken work on the bathroom and the customer wasn't happy with either of their efforts.

My specification was to remove a shower screen, toilet, shower head and mixer, remove all tiles, make good the wall, re-board it, re-tile it and refit the screen, toilet, head and mixer. The agreement was that I would receive my day rate of £200, which is my normal rate, and that I would get a plumber/bathroom fitter to do that side of things. I would send a 50% invoice for my labour and fuel costs as agreed halfway through and the remainder they would pay on completion, plus any extras, materials and the rate for the plumber/bathroom fitter.


The first payment was made without any fuss at the agreed rate (plus the fuel cost).

We had a small cosmetic issue on the last day (Plumber fitted the toilet brackets the wrong way) and they are now disputing all costs.

We offered to go back and rectify this, which their client agreed to, but they (fired earth) refused and recruited another contractor to rectify the issue.

At most, this would have taken a day.

After sending my invoice in, they made me a heavily reduced offer which i refused as the work was perfect bar that small error.

I would have been happy to pay the costs of rectifying it from outside contractors, had they been reasonable. It now seems they are using this as an excuse to reduce their overall cost due to mistakes made previously, at my expense.


Below is the last correspondence from them:



Hi Rowan,

Following our earlier conversation about your final outstanding invoice. We are prepared to pay the following:

£181.00 - Material

£405.00 - 2nd 50% Labour for the works carried out minus £95.00 that we had to pay Glass fit to rectify the showerscreen.

This means that we will pay you in total: £1,136.00 for 5.5 days of work including materials, waste removal and fuel which works out at just over £200.00 per day. I do not think that this is unreasonable.

On a personal note. The tiling that you did as always was of a very high quality and we are happy with your work. I feel that you have charged over the normal day rate on your original costing because perhaps you were feeling that you were doing me a favour. I also feel that charging us £600.00 for the plumber is just being ridiculous. I have asked you to do this work because I trusted you to do it properly. I still ended up with an unhappy customer and further contractors to go out to complete the work. It's unfortunate that your chosen plumber has let you down, but surely you would have had some experience of the quality of his work before using him on a FE job, especially one as sensitive as this one. We are not prepared to pay him and I don't think you should pay him either.

If you can send me a revised invoice so that I have it first thing tomorrow morning, I will put it through for payment this week."
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
How much is outstanding and how much are they offering?

Have they offered this in full and final settlement?

The toilet brackets issue seems to be a non issue as I imagine that is simply a case of turning them round. Can you could please clarify?

In what way did the plumber "let you down"?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

First Invoice:


Tiling works only


Labour: £500 (50%, 2.5 at £200 a day)

Extra: £50 (50% of fuel as agreed as its a 100 mile round trip)


Final Invoice:


Tiling works


Labour: £500 (50%, 2.5 days at £200 a day)

Materials: £181

Extra: £50 (50% of fuel as agreed as its a 100 mile round trip)

Plumber/bathroom fitter: £600 (3xdays at £200)

Waste removal: £65 (at cost, i have the receipt)


Total: £1946

Paid: £550


I thought a day off of that (£200) would be fair and i would deduct that from the sub contractors costs. Please be aware I am approaching this in a very calm and collected manner and don't get hot headed about anything but I really feel like I am being taken for a ride.


Please advise


Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
I still need to know whether it was a very simple issue with the toilet bracket of turning it round?

Why did the plumber "let you down"?

On what basis are they not paying for the plumber?

What is the issue with the shower screen?

Looking at the amount of work that the plumber did, which simply seemed to be removal and replacement although I accept that he would back to travel to the job twice, on what basis is he charging £600, because from the description you give, it is not three days work.

What exactly is it that they are deducting money in respect of, because they appear to be deducting £810?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The toilet bracket issue was very simple and yes, all it meant was turning them around and replacing the tiles that were drilled into previously.


In respect of the plumber "letting me down". The customer rang me up on the way home after we completed and asked us to come back and rectify the mistake made (brackets). I wish i had noticed before we left but unfortunately I hadn't. I rang him up and he told me he had another job to go to but he could return the following Saturday (It was a Saturday evening). I offered to return myself but after a telephone conversion with the customer we agreed that without Chris (the plumber) it would be foolhardy for me to attempt to take the cistern off and replace it as im no plumber. I was more than willing to sort it out on the day but the best I could offer was what the plumber offered me.


They are not paying for him as they feel his work was unsatisfactory, but this seems to be based solely on the bracket error.


The monday and tuesday were spent (by both of us) taking everything out, ripping all the tiles off the walls and repairing the damage caused prior to tiling. He only came back on the Saturday to put it all back in. It sounds simple but this was a two man job as it was undertaken in a fully finished, expensive, designer bathroom. Every day I gave a report back to Fired Earth on progress and costs and there was never any doubt on costs. If there was, and lets say there was two days plumbing and one day just helping, I would happily knock off £95 to sort the screen and a day for a plumber at the same £200


They are deducting fuel allowance, the screen rectification, waste cost and all of the plumbers cost


Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

I will pick this up in the morning if thats OK?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for the time.

The toilet bracket issue was clearly not that simple. Although I imagine the tiling was something that you dealt with? However, it may have caused further inconvenience for the already annoyed customer if it needed another trip back to the property afterwards which it seems it did. The fact that the plumber did not offer to return for a week does not bode well in favour of you.

There is another potential issue here and that is that the plumber appears to be charging £200 per day for helping you rip the tiles off which is a non-skilled job.

Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act, if a price is not agreed in advance then it can be charged but only to a reasonable level. I'm afraid I think it likely that the charges are unreasonable. From what you have said, one day should have been spent removing items and one day putting them back. The tiling job was for you apparently. I do understand that if you had no assistance, it would have taken you longer but £600 to the plumber would seem unreasonable.

I still don't know what the problem with the screen is and whether the plumber fitted that or whether there remains problem? It appears it was resolved for £95.

On the basis of what you have told me they are allowed to deduct the cost of the screen in all probability, which is £95.

Im afraid they are entitled to deduct one day's labour from the plumber which is £200 and if they had to pay to put things right after the event, some more money for inconvenience.

I cannot see on what basis they are deducting the fuel allowance or the rubbish removal costs, except that they can argue that the rubbish removal cost is something that you should bear within your daily rate.

So, proceeding on the basis that is the case, I think it is probably not unreasonable for them to deduct one days plumber at £200, the screen rectification at £95 and the rubbish removal at £65, which is £360.

There is then an amount of money for the inconvenience to the customer caused by the plumber's failings and taking a week to put it right and I think that is probably worth another £100. I don't think it's worth more, because whilst the customer clearly is not happy because of the history with this job, and by this stage will be jumping up and down annoyed, the history is not your plumber's fault.

So £460 I think they could probably justify deducting, but not £810.

You have two options: 1 negotiate and meet them halfway which is about where my figure is.

Option 2 is to take what is on offer, but make sure that you do not take it in full and final settlement but tell them that you have no alternative but to take what they are offering. You then sue them for the balance in the Small Claims Court. There is plenty of case law which allows you to do that. I don't know whether this business customer is likely to be of value to you in the future, but if you negotiate, you leave your bridges intact. If you sue them in the Small Claims Court, you do burn them.

Can I clarify anything for you?