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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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Probable contract law but not sure. We contracted a project

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Probable contract law but not sure.

We contracted a project manage to manage our new extension. We were given to understand that his letter together with the architects plans formed the contract. His letter states the build would take 12 weeks subject to weather and worked commenced the last week July/beginning of August 2012 however with a degree of hassle it was predominantly completed subject to snagging and some unfinished external items in the third week of December 2012. These snagging items and external work were then not completed and after a meeting in July 2013 with the project manager together with the architect the project manager presented a final invoice. This invoice contained additional sums we were aware of over and above the original agreed price as well as others we were not aware of and dispute. We requested a written itemised breakdown and full completion of the outstanding work and snagging. After no response for 4 months we wrote giving deadlines for receipt of the breakdown of additional costs and completion of the work. These deadlines were missed but the internal snagging was finally completed by the end of Dec13. A breakdown of his costs was received after the deadline and the external work is unfinished. Finally, wishing to take control of the situation we wrote on 30 January 2014 making an offer towards his final invoice and additional costs and an explaination of this offer against his final invoice and asking for him to acknowledge and sign this contract off. To date we have not had an acknowledgement short of a verbal one saying he would get back to us.

What we need to know is
- can we proceed to finish the outside work by engaging contractors directly and as stated in our letter deduct this cost from the final payment without his agreement?
- basically where do we stand in law if we do.
- how long can the project manager drag this out for?

We are fully aware we are withholding a final payment and indeed have offered this in our last letter less the costs of the outside works and our offer of a reasonable settlement towards the disputed costs Do we send this payment and if so does this then complete the contract and bring this situation to a close especially as it has been now over two months and the project manager has not responded to our settlement offer outside of a telephone conversation two months ago saying he would.

Look forward to hearing from you if you can help.

Anthea and Robin Battersby

I would suggest that you send the Project Manager a letter by recorded delivery that further to previous correspondence, you will proceed to appoint another contractor to complete the outstanding work and deduct the costs of such contractor from the final payment due to the Project Manager, if the Project Manager does not raise an objection to this by say 25 April 2014.

You should advise the costs of the outside work in your letter so that the Project Manager is aware what these are and they should be reasonable.

If he does not get back to you by the specified date, you should send him the final money less the costs of the outside work and specify this is in full and final settlement of all monies due to the Project Manager.

You may then appoint another contractor to do the outside work.

Hope this helps
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Given that it is now two and a half months since we wrote to him making him a final offer and telling him we are intending to engage other contractors to finish the work and he has not responded re. his acceptance or otherwise, and it's twenty one months that he has dragged this out since the start of the work (which he estimated would take twelve weeks), is there a time limit in law after which he can no longer prevaricate? There must be time limit after which he forfeits his claim on us? We are still prepared to pay him our offer which we think is a reasonable amount under the circumstances.
Robin and Anthea
There are no set time limits in law, what you have done is reasonable and you may go ahead and engage another contractor o complete the work.

All the best
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