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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We are having an extension built which started at the end of

Customer Question

We are having an extension built which started at the end of October 2013, we were quoted £22,465 for all work start to finish with us supplying the bathroom suite, which was sent to us via a text message on 13/09/2013 (still have the text). At the start it turned out that there was a well/soak away in the way of the rear part of the extension which had to be filled in and then another well/soak away dug in the garden as a soak away, We also asked him to put a new drain cover on our cess pit and concrete around it. I knew there would be extra cost for this so I asked the contractor to let me know how much extra it would be, after asking several times for the extra costs we eventually got 2 letters hand delivered into our post box on 23/01/2014, letter number 1 was a quote dated 28/09/2013 which we had never seen before and had the price of £32,465 on it, the 2nd letter was extras priced at £6,250, stating that the rear of the extension was also an extra as well as moving the well and the drain cover. He also put down moving the gate post as an extra which was included in the original quote as the extension would be impossible without moving it. The plans went in to the council on 27/08/2013 the only amendment to those plans were moving a bedroom window from the back to the side at the request of the neighbours.
After consulting with other builders we realised that the quote was quite low and agreed to pay an extra £10,000 to the contractor. I drew up an agreement that the contractor signed which stated that we will pay £3000 week commencing 24th March, £3000 approximately 2 weeks later and the remainder on satisfactory completion of the building works with no other costs to be incurred. This was signed by the contractor and my wife on 27/03/2014. We have paid the first 2 payments as agreed and now the contractor is refusing to do anymore work unless we give him some more money.
During the work we have been living in a very cold house as the windows have not been fitted yet, our house insurance is invalid because it's not secure, they will not pay our legal fees either as the extension is not part of the house yet, a leak in the utility room window has ruined the worktop and cabinet, myself and my wife are getting very down about this, the contractor also told us that the work would take 8 to 12 weeks but that was only verbal, it has now been 6 months which I do not think is a reasonable time. Please help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

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

How can I help with this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is he in breach of contract? what do I need to do next please?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Unless you agreed stage payments and what the stage payments were you are not liable to pay until the goods and services have been delivered because until then, you have incurred no liability.

Meanwhile, if he doesn't do the work, he is in breach of contract.

If no timescale is agreed then under the Supply of Goods and Services Act the timescale must be reasonable.

So, even though he only agreed 2 to 3 months verbally I think six months for an extension is not a reasonable timescale.

What you could do is get a quantity surveyor to value the amount of work already done to see whether you have overpaid or underpaid and then armed with the surveyor's report you are then in a better bargaining position with the builder.

Meanwhile I would get a quote to finish the job off and then write to the builder (or better solicitor should write) telling the builder that unless he returns to site and get the job finished within a reasonable period of time (I suggest that the end of May) you will get someone else in to finish the job and if that costs more, you will sue him for the extra cost.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank for that but what about the extra costs of heating, the stress and discomfort, my daughter who stays at weekends has to sleep on a mattress on the floor because her bedroom has not been completed.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
You cannot deduct anything in respect of that from the cost without risking him taking you to court but if he did that you can always counterclaim.

My suggestion would be to get the job finished and then sue him for those costs, distress, inconvenience and extra heating as a result of his failings
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We would like to use the workers that he has been using, he pays them cash and I do not believe they are contracted to him, would this be an issue?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
They are free to work the who they like so that should not be an issue although he may not employed again but that is something for them to worry about and not you.

The choice is theirs.

You do need to make sure that you do give him adequate warning that if he is not finished by a certain date you will get the work done elsewhere.

That is why I suggested a solicitor writes to him
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How much would it cost to write this letter and could you do it?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
It is strictly against the site rules to accept instructions I am sorry.
It is probably better coming from a local solicitor and you will probably find that any solicitor local to you would do this for you