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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 73840
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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We have issues with our builders, London, United Kingdom,

Customer Question

we have issues with our builders
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: London, United Kingdom
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Tried to solve peacefully by talking but our requests have been ignored
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: they decided to charge more, they are officially nearly 1 year behind completion, they have refused to give us schedule of works, they refused us to access the site without them on site, they now changed the lock without giving us the keys so we cannot access the house. we like to terminate the contract asap and ask for refund of money if possible for the work we have overpaid.
Submitted: 9 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

What is the amount under dispute? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
The disputed amount if £5425.85. He suddenly insisted on charging more on the wall finished which we have all paid for as per the agreed tender. We refused it and told him that he was mistaken but he doesn't accept it. He cannot really explain how he thinks he is entitled to the extra £5425.85. We have all the paper trail that proves the exact amount agreed and how much we have paid so far. When we refused to pay this ungrounded extra charge, he stopped working on the site. We offered mediation in the interest of moving forward asap but he refused. The site has very little progress for the last 8 weeks when he could have completed everything had he carried on his work diligently and regularly. The project is in its final phase, internally 90% finished. There is more to do externally but at least we, as house owner and the project managers can move in any moment. Despite us visiting the site every Sunday for the past 1 year and more, he now refuses our access to the site without prior agreement with him and without him on site. 3 weeks ago he broke the lock and refused to repair so we could not enter the house for 2 weeks. Yesterday we found out he actually changed the lock to a new one so we have completely lost our access to the house. The liquidation damages are huge caused by the delay, plus he has made several mistakes that he demands we pay to remedy.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
We are now sure we want to terminate the contract but the Riba Domestic Building Contract 2018 says we have to give him 14 days notice during which he is given a chance to remedy all the failures pointed in the notice. There are too many to finish in 14 days but now he has officially taken our house from us, we feel treated by him and want to get rid of him asap. He also used a debt collector company to write a letter to us in regards ***** ***** disputed amount.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Do we qualify to terminated the contract immediately on the ground that the contractor has officially threatened to take the ownership of our properly at all? In theory, he could move in and start living there any moment. He is also using our property to store a lot of his tools and using our land as a workshop space. We know he has started working on another project too.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

When a consumer enters into a contract for services, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that such services 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 to proceed with the services in question. If there are problems and the trader cannot satisfy the above criteria, which are legally expected of them, the consumer will have certain rights

In the case of delays, for example if the work has substantially gone over the agreed schedule or not been performed within a reasonable time, the consumer can ask for a price reduction to cover any financial losses or inconvenience caused as a result. If the work is incomplete and the trader refuses to work to the agreed schedule, or complete it, it is possible to get someone else to finish the work and charge the original trader for these additional costs.

If there are cost disputes, for example the trader is asking for additional money either during or at the end of the work, consumers can potentially challenge these. Ideally, it is preferable to have a written agreement in place, setting out what price was agreed and what for, so that both parties can refer to it. Assuming that does not exist, if the consumer knew that any extra work was being carried out and allowed the trader to continue, a reasonable price would need to be negotiated for it as it may not be possible to completely refuse to compensate them for it. This should, however, still prevent the trader from charging for work which was not agreed or communicated, or if the costs are clearly becoming unreasonable high when compared to the original quote or what is considered reasonable in these circumstances.

In order to resolve any problems that have arisen, it is generally recommended that the following steps are followed:

1. Collect all documents relating to the work (e.g. quote, contract, correspondence, etc.).

2. Contact the trader and explain your problem. Ask them to resolve any issues and set a reasonable time limit for them to respond (7 days is acceptable).

3. If the matter is still not resolved, write to the trader repeating your complaint and how you would like them to resolve the issues. Say you are giving them a final time limit of 7 days to resolve the problem or you will have to consider taking legal proceedings to recover your losses and any additional costs. This is also known as a ‘letter before action’ and there are plenty of templates if you do an online search for one.

4. If the trader fails to respond or refuses to resolve the problem, you could consider taking legal action by seeking compensation. Remember that court is a last resort, however threatening it can be a good negotiating tool because it shows you are serious about resolving this and may prompt the trader to reconsider their position.

5. Finally, make sure that you keep copies of all correspondence, in case it is needed in the claims process.

I appreciate you want to terminate the contract immediately but it will work in your favour in the event of a potential court claim, if you still follow at least part of the above to ensure you can show you have acted reasonably, despite what you were faced with.

If you wish to take the matter further and issue legal proceedings, assuming you will just be claiming financial compensation, you may pursue your claim via the County Court’s online portal at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

You may also wish to consider reporting them to Trading Standards, which you can do via the following link: https://ssl.datamotion.com/form.aspx?co=3438&frm=general&to=flare.fromforms

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hello Ben,Thanks for your reply.Can you please clarify on the issue of our right to access the property? Is there any laws/reg around this? We feel our right to access as the owner of the property should remain with us always, changing the lock without a prior agreement and sharing the key is surely illegal? Please let us know your thoughts on this.We have dealt with our situation carefully and with the idea to remedy other than terminating the contract. We can prove we have offered to get a mediator to help the dispute situation and solve it as fairly as possible if the contractor can prove his points. But more than 7 weeks have passed without any acknowledgment or a sign of will to collaborate. We have come to conclusion that we have to terminate and move on to another contractor(s) to avoid further delay. We have put together a 'statement of facts' collated in chronological order, backed by emails and contracts to prove our points, our grounds for termination.Now it is clear he has no will to resume work until we pay the disputed amount and more (he is demanding us to pay for his mistakes) without any evidence that we owe him money. Surely our evidence shows we offered him a peaceful & less hurtful way to get out of the situation. With the changed key too, we politely requested we get the keys and access to the house back several times over 3 weeks.We might look at pursuing financial compensation later but at the moment we like to know how we can safely and sensible terminate the contract with the builder. Any advice on that will be greatly appreciated.Regards,Yuki
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 days ago.

The property is yours and that does not change based on what has happened. They may have changed the locks but it is still your property and you can gain access, even if by force, should it be required. Even though the notice mentioned earlier is preferable, you can always rely on the argument that the trust has now broken beyond repair, especially after the lock issue, meaning you no longer have any trust and confidence in them to do any further work and should be allowed to terminate the contract immediately

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Thank you very much Ben for your help.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 8 days ago.

You are most welcome and all the best