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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Am I legally entitled to tell a builder I do not want

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Hello. Am I legally entitled to tell a builder I do not want him to continue working on my house given that after he started work I found out that his work is sub standard and that he has been a director of several dissolved building companies that have left many other customers with ongoing issues. I have seen an example of his work which was shoddy and needed to be pulled down and redone.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Is the work he has actually done for you shoddy?
If so, in what way?
Have you paid already?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So far we have paid £5000 for the brickwork and base which is not yet complete. However his company have also been building an orangery for a friend of ours and she has had to get another builder in to put right shoddy and unsafe building work his team did on her build. We have since found out he is a rogue trader with many dissolved companies which have left a trail of unfinished poor quality work. We do not have a written contract only an email stating when monies will be due, with the next payment being £10k when the brickwork is completed.the brickwork his team have done it good, it is the next phase where his team do not and have not displayed the necessary knowledge that they can do a good job.
But is the work he has actually done for you substandard?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Not so far, noWe are worried that based on the evidence of the work he has just done at our friends property we will be subject to the same level of bad workmanship.He has not taken care to protect our driveway which has been damaged as are result of his workmen piling the rubble and earth dug it for the foundations on the drive. When the grab lorry picked up the waste it too removed some of the gravel surface revealing the scalping so underneath it. On top of that when the concrete lorry drove on our drive to deliver the cement for the footings it sank, also damaging the drive and crushed the edging stones when exiting the property. I have photos of this damage as evidence.
Have you asked him if you can cancel?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, not yet. We want to understand firstly if we can cancel, and what could be the implications if we were to do so.basically what is the legal situation here.
On the information you provide, he is not in breach. Therefore if you do cancel you will be in breach of contract unless you negotiated specific rights to cancel.
Proceeding on the basis that you did not as it would not be normal, he would have a claim against you. However, he can only claim for any work actually done and lost profits. If you have paid him £5k already then it not likely that it would be any more than that even if he had to buy materials.
If he does do work of a poor standard there is scope to cancel on the basis that you have lost faith in his capacity to complete. However, that is a high test. You have to show that you have good reason to believe that he cannot complete this particular job and that cannot usually be word of mouth complaints from others. The closest you can come here is that the grab lorry caused damage but that isn't really entirely down to him.
If it does come to going to court you could try to argue that the complaints your friend had are sufficient. Probably it wouldnt succeed if actually in court but then he probably won't want to go to court and account for these complaints either so it might deter him.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, understood. We have both seen the quality of the work he has done at our friends, plasterboard came off the wall, not fitted correctly, generally bad workmanship. But whether that would be admissible in court if it came to it, is probably doubtful.
Are you able to help with the correct wording if we were to email the builder stating that we wish to cancel based on what we have
a) seen at our friends property
b) found about him and his companies past history on trading standards websites?
It would be admissible if you put it in the proper form - you would need photographs, your friend would need to be willing to attend etc.
You don't actually have to give any reason for cancelling. Whichever reason you give it doesn't change the fact that you are in breach.
If you want to offer a reason then there is no need for any formal wording. Just down your concerns which are just that you have heard complaints about this work from your friend and online.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So at the end of the day, whilst we would be in breach if it went to court he can only claim for work actually carried out. Presumably he would have to prove any expenses relating to the work completed so far?
You have been very helpful but it still feels like the law protects him more than us in this situation.
Yes, he would. He would also have to prove that he can't use these materials in another job so actually his claim is quite low.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, thanks.
No problem and all the best.
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