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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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If you use a self employed, fully insured builder to renovate

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If you use a self employed, fully insured builder to renovate your house and the neighbour alleges damage to his property as a result. Who is liable?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Could you explain your situation a bit more please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, my builder put on a new roof and the neighbour is not happy with the way his and my roof join. Neither roof leaks, despite record wind and rain, but he is demanding a new roof!

So, is it the builder, or me who is in dispute with the neighbour? I've taken no part in the renovations, which were done on a fixed price in my absence


The builder is liable. However, if the neighbour issues legal proceedings against you, you must bring the builder in as the second defendant. The builder will then pass it on to his insurance company or will deal with it himself.

You have a potential liability called a vicarious liability, which gives you responsibility for your agents , but as the builder is insured, I would not worry about that

I would give the builder’s name and address, and as much detail as you can to the neighbour and tell the neighbour to deal with the builder direct.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


Thank you very much, I appreciate it, but what if the builder refuses to be 'brought in' and the neighbour refuses to address the builder? The neighbour and the builder fell out big time and the builder will now have nothing to do with the neighbour.


by some finger trouble mistake the question appears to be open to 'more legal experts, this was not my intention, I'm happy with you.


thank you


Bob lindo

The builder may not want to negotiate or talk about this, but he has no option if you want to join him in as second defendant, in just the same way as he has no option if the neighbour decides to issue legal proceedings against him directly and you have no option than to deal with the proceedings if the neighbour issues them against you.

When the proceedings are issued and they will land on his doormat! If he does not deal with them, the matter will go to court and the judgement will be made against him in his absence.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If what you say is Correct Joc.that's the best £11 I ever spent!


Kind regards XXXXX XXXXX


bob Lindo

No problem and all the best.

Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo C


You have been very helpful, thank you.


But, to get this clear, there is a procedure, whereby I can add the builder in after I have received a summons?


Thanks again


Bob Lindo

Yes, it is a standard procedure. You need to make an application to do so but it is a form filling exercise
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


I contacted the roofing company and they responded, below. Am I sunk?


'We have tried to help you out as much as possible on this issue by sending reports, photos and spending a considerable amount of time answering questions at a time when we are most busy.

I do not wish to be obstructive on this issue on the contrary I have tried to be as helpful as possible.

Having read the contents of your correspondence I have just contacted my solicitor who advises me to respond with the following, this work was carried out when B and C Roofing operated as a sole trader.

B and C Roofing when acting as sole traders ceased trading and B and C Roofing Ltd was formed when the company became incorporated.

B and C Roofing Ltd therefore have no legal obligation to instruct Applecliffe to carry out this survey or deal with any issues which arise as a direct result of it as it was not B and C Roofing Ltd who carried out works on this project.

My solicitor also advises me B and C Roofing were acting as subcontractors on this property and were working on the instructions of Simon Richardson who operated as the principle contractor so it should be Mr Richardson you need to contact regarding this issue not us.

We will assist with further documentary evidence if needed but B and C Roofing Ltd will not incur any expense as a direct result of this project.'

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

It appears he's saying that he's no longer trading as the same entity


B and C Roofing when acting as sole traders ceased trading and B and C Roofing Ltd was formed when the company became a limited company since. I see a hint of maybe went bust?.



It does not matter what name he uses now. It is what he was at the time.

You would therefore issue proceedings against him personally t/a B & C Roofing
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


I've been asking on behalf of my daughter actually, I've been trying to take the strain out of it for her. It turns out that she has legal expense insurance for Neighbour disputes on her household policy. Knowing insurance companies, I'm not holding my breath!

I can't find any references on google to the use of legal expenses to defend against a neighbour's claim in these circumstances. is it normal? I know it will depend on policy wording, but have you heard of it?

I have heard of that.

The insurance company will try to use every loophole to wriggle out of this so she needs to check the policy wording in minute detail, word for word.

If it is not excluded specifically provided the risk is covered, then she is covered.

It is important that she refers this to the insurance company before she takes any action at all.

She is better referring as soon rather than later.

I would also tell my neighbour that she is referring it to her legal expenses insurer because if this is covered, the neighbour will be having to pay their own legal costs, whereas your daughters will have a huge pot of money provided the risk is covered. As the damage alleged, is the responsibility of the builder, they will simply defend your daughters action and the neighbour will still be chase with suing the builder