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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50722
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I need help with an issue with a builder that has done poor

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I need help with an issue with a builder that has done poor work
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
This builder did not complete the work to the standard agreed. We have paid him £6.5k for an £8k job. He has overrun on the time frame. He has damaged and destroyed my sofa. He is asking for full payment but we have withheld because of poor work. No contract was signed. He is threatening legal action. £4.5k was paid in cash and £2k was BACS payment. Does he have a case?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Has the work actually been completed?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Ben. Nice to meet you.
The work has been completed but to a very poor standard and not to what was agreed
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Ben. Work required, price and timeframes were agreed but nothing was signed. He failed on the the quality of the work and the timeframe but still wants full payment. Does he have a case?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ben? Are you still there?

Thank you. When a person enters into a contract for work and materials, where the main focus is labour and skill, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that the work must be:

· Carried out with reasonable care and skill (to the same standard as any reasonably competent person in that trade or profession)

· Finished within a reasonable time (unless a specific time frame has been agreed)

· Provided at a reasonable cost (unless a specific price has been agreed)

In addition, any information exchanged in communications between the parties, whether written or verbal, is binding if the consumer relies on it. This will include quotations and any promises about timescales or the results to be achieved.

If there are problems with any of the above, the customer will have certain rights:

1. Substandard work - the trader should either redo the parts of the work which are inadequate or perform the whole service again at no extra cost to the customer. This must be done within a reasonable time and without causing significant inconvenience. If this is not possible, you can claim a price reduction, based on the severity of the issues. If they simply refuse to resolve the issues, you can consider getting someone else to rectify the issues and either deduct these costs from the total owed to the original trader, or pursue them for any extra costs that have been incurred.

2. Delays – if the work has substantially gone over the agreed schedule or not been performed within a reasonable time, you can also ask for a price reduction to cover any financial losses or inconvenience caused as a result. If the work is incomplete and they refuse to work to the agreed schedules it is possible to get someone else to finish it off and charge the original trader for these additional costs.

So this is what you can try and argue with him about to pay less than what was agreed in order to cover the issues you have experienced. He cannot be stopped from going to court if he wanted to, but at least you have options to counter-argue any claim he makes.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your response.
Some of the work he has done can not be rectified without demolishing and starting again. For example he laid a brand new hard wood floor for which I provided all materials. He only provided the labour. The floor hasnt been installed properly and needs to be redone. How can I approach that?
Also, his builders.ruined my sofa and it had to be disposed of. Can I claim compensation for that?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
On a separate note. Everything was done on a verbal agreement. What happens when there are discrepancies between parties on what was said/agreed?

You can indeed consider claiming for the sofa, although it would depend on whether he had advised you to move it or that it could be damaged and you took no steps to remove it to prevent that. As to there being a verbal contract, it would basically come down to your word against his - it is not guaranteed that either side will be believed over the other and the court will have to decide whose evidence they think is more plausible. So there is always a risk attached to that

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He didn't tell me to move the sofa. His builders did it on their own accord. However all this goes back to his word against mine.
In your opinion. Should I fight this?

At this stage I would just wait and see how far he takes it. He may never go as far as court. Even if he does this will go to the small claims court so the worst is that you are asked to pay the outstanding money but you won't have to pay his legal fees if he used a lawyer because each side pays their own. Hope this clarifies?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
He sent me a message saying his solicitor said I would be liable for their fees if I lost in court.

Not if the claim is below £10,000 as that goes to the small claims court and each side pays their own legal fees there

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ok. The job was agreed at 12k but the claim is for 5.7k. Is that still for small claims court?The work his builders have done is late and to a poor standard which I can prove as I have photos but he says he has witnesses. These have to be fabricated. What can I do about that?

yes because the overall claim is below 10k. You cannot do much about the alleged witnesses or their statements until they have been provided as part of a claim. That is the first time you can actually challenge them by providing whatever evidence you have to counter them

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ben. Sorry to be a pain. I really appreciate your help in this matter. This guy has been nothing but a nightmare.
Would it be a case of my word against the witnesses if I haven't met these witnesses because I have a feeling he will bring witnesses that haven't got anything to do with the case?
Also. As it was part paid in cash there is the factor of not paying VAT. How does that come into play?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Also. Who is liable for court fees?

Hi there, sorry I had to go offline last night as had a very early start today. We do not know who these witnesses are and what evidence they have.

In many cases, a lack of documentary evidence could mean that the claim is essentially one person’s word against another’s. This makes it a factual dispute and the courts will have to use their best efforts to try and determine who is right and who is wrong based on what they say and how they say it. To do so the courts have developed certain tests that would be applied to help them decide how much weight to attach to each side's evidence, such as:

• Demeanour - includes matters such as a person’s conduct, manner, bearing, behaviour, delivery and inflexion. They are matters of impression, which are not necessarily revealed by reading a transcript of evidence. It is the more 'personal' side of the individual providing the evidence

• Inconsistency – mainly to do with any apparent inconsistencies in a person’s evidence, especially after cross-examination

• Probability – this would ask of the evidence as a whole, or of a particular part of it: whose account is more probable in the circumstances?

So the courts will apply these or other similar tests in coming to a decision that they believe is most fair in the circumstances. That does not mean it is necessarily the right one, but the one which has been judged to be the fairest based on all available information.

As to the court fees, they will need to pay these first but if they win they can add them to the claim and ask you to pay them. For this value of claim it will be a few hundred pounds in total. But the legal fees will still need to be covered by them. Does this clarify things for you?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi Ben
This is very helpful and thanks for all your advice.
I've sent him a message saying we're willing to give him a chance to fix the work and resolve this out of court so if it does go to court we have demonstrated willingness to cooperate.Thanks

Yes a good step, you have acted reasonably and the ball is in their court. Lets see what happens now

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