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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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The loft company that built my loft made many errors and did

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The loft company that built my loft made many errors and did not complete the job for example I had to pay somebody else to paint the stairs and the space outside the loft, etc. They Also took 8 months instead of the 8 weeks they said the work would last. They took off the house rain gutter for all this time and now my front walls are all ruined with damp. I have already paid them 36, 000 of the 38, 000 price, and they want another 3000 including extras. They finished 2 weeks ago. At the last meeting, to discuss "the snagging list" the director of the company did not listen to me and started to shout abuse at me. My 10 year old son was scared and started crying. So I told him to get out of my house. Yesterday I received a letter from their solicitors, dated 25 February, that orders me to pay before the 28 otherwise they will start bankruptcy procedures. I would like a judge to decide whether I have to pay them or they have to pay me for the money I spent and the inconvenience they put me through. What can I do? Can I make a claim at the small Court claim? Do I have to hire a lawyer too? I would prefer to go to the small claims court.
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today. I need to ask you some preliminary questions to be able to help you.

Can you prove the defects? Do you have any written evidence of your complaints?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The plasteringin the shower room was not straight. The tiler showed me that there were able 2-3 inches difference between the bottom and the top. We took pictures. Also the windows are too high respect to plans. I have pictures of the ruined walls. a surveyor saw it but has not given me a report yet as I haven't yet asked him to do so. But what about the 8 months they took to finish? They left me for 2 months with an unfinished roof and it was raining inside the house!

OK thanks for the additional information.

You will, of course, need to prove each and every aspect of your complaint so its essential that you obtain as much evidence as possible. The photographs and a report from a surveyor will certainly help.

Any claim where the value is less than £10,000 will be dealt with in the Small Claims Court. Sometimesit may be dealt with using written evidence, without a hearing. If there is a hearing you can represent yourself, instruct a solicitor or, with the courts permission, have somebody assist you.

Before proceedings are started you need to respond to the solicitors letter to explain your position. It seems to me that you are complaining of a breach of contract namely that the builder has not kept to his side of the agreement specifically failure to complete the work in time and his poor workmanship. There is an implied term in every contract for services - that work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill. The law on this is s.13 Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982. In your letter you should make it clear that if any legal proceedings are commenced you will defend and make a counterclaim on the basis of the grounds I have mentioned.

You can sue the builder if the £3,000 you've retained does not cover your losses. However, litigation can become time consuming and costly so ought to be avoided if possible. I suggest that in your letter you suggest alternative dispute resolution to court proceedings. This is a more informal way of resolving these disputes than going through the court process.

Once you have sent a response to the solicitor you can review your options which are 1 Do nothing if the money you have retained covers your losses 2 Sue the builder for breach of contract (but bear in mind he could make a counterclaim) 3 Wait for the builder to sue you and then counterclaim against him. You should be aware that in a counterclaim situation, the court could find in your favour or against you depending on the evidence.

Note that solicitors fees are not usually allowed in the small claims court. So of either of you instrcut a solicitor you might not get your legal expenses back. The only exception is if the other party has acted unreasonably. To show that you have acted reasonably and properly you should send a letter as mentioned above and suggest dispute resolution as soon as possible.

Hope this helps.

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