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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I against better judgement have paid a sum of money in cash

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I against better judgement have paid a sum of money in cash up front in preparation for some work being done on my roof.
I have no paperwork (i.e no contract, and receipts I've got don't cover the full amount that I have already paid).
Whilst acknowledging that the work on the roof needs doing, have I committed to using this company by paying up front, or can I ask for my money back as although I knew this builder already, the company bears all the signs of being cowboy builders (i.e. offers very cheap quotes or estimates, unwilling to put a quote or estimate in writing, doesn’t offer a contract, and wanting cash up front for materials.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How much have you paid them and how much is the value of the work and materials already used/done?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have paid (along with my brother) £4800 (yes I Know!)

He originally quoted £5000 (inclusive of the new tiles and other materials), but now says a further £2500 is required as thes tiles are heavier than the existing ones, and will put too much strain on the supports, so they need to replace the supports as well.

Regardless of whether any written contract was signed or not, you would have entered into a legally binding agreement for the works in question because there would have been an offer, acceptance and consideration which are sufficient to create a contract in law. In effect you have offered to pay the builders for the works in question and they have accepted that and started making arrangements for the work to be done. If you then do not proceed with the works in question you would potentially be acting in breach of contract. However, that does not mean that you should pay everything you have already paid for as the builders should not be allowed to make a profit for doing no work and they could only claim for losses which they have actually incurred as a result of your actions.
So for example, if they have already bought materials which they cannot use elsewhere they can retain payment for these items. Similarly, they can charge you for any work they have already carried out. However, if the payment you made was for work which has not yet been undertaken then you should be able to get that portion back.
Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. You should therefore try direct contact with them first and polite requests to have the unused portion of the funds returned to you. If these discussions do not resolve the matter, it is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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