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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 18741
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I contracted a builder for my garage conversion. He delayed

Customer Question

I contracted a builder for my garage conversion. He delayed the work for more than a month an dis still not ready. I found out now that he should've submitted an application to building control for his work which he didn’t do. And also, his work needs to be redone as is not up to building control standards. This would not be a big issue and I would understand. The problem is that he is asking me money for the job he done. I paid him for what he worked but he wants more. He is sending me messages and threats. What should I do?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Ipswich
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: No steps. Just try to discuss with him
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No, I don't think so.
Submitted: 12 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

for background -

what was the conversion?

how did you find him and is he a sole trader or ltd co?

what was his quote and how were you meant to pay - installments?

what is he threatening?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
It was a garage conversion; i found him in; his company name is***** but I am not sure if is an ltd or sole trader; the initial quote was £4900. I have paid deposit of £1900. After more than 3 weeks he asked for another £1500 for materials. He delayed the work saying that the windows are not ready yet. Now I decided to change the builder. I said to him to deliver the windows when are ready as is not fair for me to leave him with them. But he said he needs another £1075 to cover all the work. That leaves him with £425 worth of money to finish what is left. But the work is not half done. He send me message saying that he will go in the route where I don't want to pay him.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 days ago.

This problem with builders seems to be like an epidemic.

They want money upfront and then, they want the final part of the money before they’ve finished.

If you let me know what threats he is making, I can suggest how to reply to that.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
This are the type of message he send me. He said he will do anything to get the money he owns
"3400 doesn’t cover the labour and the fitting of
Plaster board/ plastering
Floor.I can come to an agreement on the windows and for the work done. But if this is the case I’ll just have to go down the route that your refusing to pay which is a shame."
"I’ve spoke to Stuart, these windows need to be paid for. Throwing me off a job because the windows were a bit longer than expected is not a valid reason. You owe money, it is ridiculous how you are trying to screw me out of money. You would have to buy windows anyway to carry on the project. Your now trying to leave me with windows that I have no use for because you decided to change builder. Your leaving me with not much option here, this is totally unfair and you should never do anyone out of money, we all have bills to be paid." .
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 days ago.

I don’t see that this is a threat.  Although going down the route that you are refusing to pay seems to be saying that he would take you to court.

What is extremely relevant here is how much work he has done and why you have decided to change the builder.

The work is half done, then it would probably be fortuitous to pay him half of the money plus an amount in respect of the materials to finish the rest of the job.

If he has purchased the windows and you haven’t paid for them, and he takes you to court, there is a good chance that he’s going to succeed in any claim against you.

He says that GBP3400 doesn’t cover whatever but you have only paid 1900 then you say he needs another 1075.

So I’m completely confused as to how much you have paid, how much he has done, and what he wants.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I have paid £1900 deposit then another £1500. I wanted to change the builder because he had no idea that he had to submit an application to building control. I could've got in trouble for this. And the insolation he used, is not according to building control so I will have to pay again for this. I wanted to be reasonable. I said I am willing to pay his work as it is fair. But the way I see it is:
Total quote was £4900
I have paid £3400
He has done not even half of his job.
He is asking for another £1075 to deliver the windows.
That means £425 covers more than half of his job. Something is not right.
Again, I have no problem paying but the new builder said the money I have paid covers all the work done till now, the windows and still have some left
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I don't want anything from him. I just want him to leave me alone.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 days ago.

I don’t think that the failure to submit an application to building control would be sufficient to rescind the contract.  It’s easy enough to make the submission to put that right.

You say you could have got in trouble for it, all they would do is say that you needed to make the application. He is saying that you thrown off because the window delivery took longer than expected, something outside his control.

It appears that you have paid GBP3400 from a total cost of GBP4900 leaving, somewhat obviously, GBP1500 outstanding.  But he has only done 50% of the work.

I think you need to explain that to him in words of one syllable.  You need to say exactly that.

However he cannot keep pestering you for money otherwise that’s harassment.

Harassment is defined as a course of action (more than once) which is intended to harass, does harass, is reckless as to whether it harasses, or if the average bystander would look at the conduct and think that it was indeed harassment.

Harassment is both a civil matter and a criminal matter.

If a person is being harassed they should go to the police and ask them to warn the alleged offender under the Protection from Harassment Act.  Some police forces take that very seriously and others not so and therefore, a person may need to speak to a senior officer or put a complaint in writing to the Chief Constable.

It’s also a breach of the provisions of section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act in respect of unlawful harassment of debtors.

If you are not going to pay him, he’s going to have to take you to court and you are going to have to defend it.