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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 15403
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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Dispute with flooring company about final invoice amount,

Customer Question

Dispute with flooring company about final invoice amount
JA: Where is this? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: London
JA: What steps have been taken so far?
Customer: Discussed our concerns with the company
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
Submitted: 9 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 9 days ago.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer.

Thank you for the question, I am reviewing the details now and I will aim to resolve it as quickly as possible for you.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 9 days ago.

I note you have a dispute with a company who provided a service to you - if you are a consumer (not a business) then you can rely upon the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The law gives you strong protection and states that the flooring company must carry out their service with "reasonable care and skill". The materials they use must be as described, fit for purpose and free from defects. If not, you could refuse to pay the last invoice - until they resolve this for you.

They are entitled to repeat performance (i.e. to return to sort any poor work) as long as this does not greatly inconvenience you and as long as it is done within a reasonable period of time.
If you refuse to pay they may walk off the job and leave the work unfinished - you would have to try and reach agreement with them if possible. If the relationship has reached an impasse you would need to instruct other company to finish the work and pay them instead. The former company may dispute the fact they have done anything wrong - meaning they may pursue a claim against you, which you can defend - it is easy enough to do. You may want to threaten a report to Trading Standards which may help matters - they can be reached here: Contacts

If you would like me to cover anything else, such as what happens if they issue a claim, I can do so.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 9 days ago.

I hope this answers the question. If you have any follow up questions then please do let me know.

Many thanks,
Jim

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 9 days ago.

Just a final note that I am free most days and would be happy to assist with any other queries you may have.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hi Jim, I have a lot of details on the dispute, let me summarize it. Sorry for all the details, I've included a lot, since not sure what is relevant
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I hired a specialized flooring company to fit engineered wood flooring in 3 bedrooms, total of 37 square meters . The quote we agreed to was £2790 + VAT. (£670 to remove old floors, £2100 to lay down new), they estimated the job would take 4 days with 2 guys working, starting November 8th, 2021I was very clear about the objectives of the project: to ensure the floors are solid and don't creak/squeak, so we discussed an inspection of the subfloor and repair/replacement if its needed at extra cost, which was TBD. The no creak requirement was very important, so I made sure I stated this verbally and in writing before the works started. Our house is built in 1950s and has standard pine boards subfloor nailed to joists with 6mm thinboard nailed over the pine boards.
Once the guys started the job and removed the old floors they walked on the thinboard and said the subfloor appeared to be in good shape. They said they could remove the thinboard and lay floors directly on pine boards, but in their words "it didn't make sense". So they went on to fit the floors.
At the end of day 2 they laid about 1/3 of the boards. This is where things got very complicated! When I came to inspect, I instantly discovered creaks in 3 different areas. The fitters said it's a problem with the subfloor and suggested taking floors up and fixing the subfloor. Since they have already nailed and glued every board, this would mean throwing all boards away (around £800 worth) and we couldn't replace them for weeks as they were out of stock.
Hence we declined this option and asked for the remaining 2/3 of subfloor be inspected and repaired - thinboard lifted, pine boards screwed to joists etc. The cost was unclear as they didn't know what the condition of the subfloor was and how much time the repair would take, but said worst case it would be £2800 for 28 square meters. The subfloor turned out to be in very good shape, but they screwed down every board, repaired a few and replaced the thinboard. They have carried out this repair on 22.5 square meters.
Once this was done, I insisted that they fix the 3 remaining creaks in the section that was laid without prior subfloor remediation. They were very hesitant as they didn’t know how much work would be involved, so they couldn’t give me a price, but said they would charge £60 an hour and later emailed me saying it would be £80 an hour, the repairs took them 6 hours on one day (2 creaks) and 5 hours (1 creak)
Overall, they ended up taking 4 days extra to finish the job on November 18th. Total job took 8 days. This was not just due to the subfloor, but also they complained about the quality of the boards we supplied, stating that fitting them is taking longer than originally anticipated.
We have not had a final invoice until they completed the work and it came out to £5779 + VAT, so the total of £6,934.82 versus the original £2790+VAT. The extra works were priced at £480+VAT for repairing the creaks and £2528 for subfloor repairs.
I am planning on writing a formal complaint directly to the flooring company to ask them for a reduction of price as I don’t believe it’s reasonable to charge more than double than what was originally agreed. Here are my issues:
1) They took zero responsibility for the creaks and blamed me for not agreeing to do the work on the subfloor upfront, which is not even true.
2) The subfloor repairs ended up priced at £113 per square meter, this is no a reasonable price for this type of job.
3) They never told me what the final cost would be, just invoiced after, but claim that I agreed to these costs. In principle we agreed to extra charges, but don’t feel they are fair
4) They have added 10 other things to the quote, claiming they have not charged us for them, like moving furniture, oiling floors, fit nosing, fit thresholds and added a lot of other items to make it seems that they’ve been fair to us, when in reality they padded their pricing with the extra subfloor repairs and charged us more for the second 4 days than first 4 days.Worth noting that the quality of work is good, no issues.What are my rights and what’s the best way to dispute this? My thoughts were
a) Argue that the price is not reasonable, I would have to get 3 extra quotes, which will be a challenge as the job is already done
b) Argue that the creaks are their responsibility and should have been repaired at no cost
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 9 days ago.

Thanks for the further information.
They are supposed to be the experts and they did not act in accordance with your requirements. The materials used were not fit for purpose it would seem.
They also over-ran with the completion date which is another issue for them.
You can of course request a price reduction to reflect the above - it would be a reasonable request in my view considering that your consumer rights were so clearly breached. I covered your rights earlier I believe and as to "a" and "b", the creaks are a major issue and you can ask for a price reduction but ideally you would need a quote from another company in case there are further costs which may be required to fix this - whilst you can ask for a price reduction, it's unknown if further costs are an issue.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hi Jim, thanks for your reply. I agree with your statement that we replied on their expertise and they didn't act in accordance with my requirements. There floors were provided by us, but they complained about the quality of the boards. Not sure if overruning the completion date also applies since we've agreed to the extra work. Also, they have fixed all creaks, my issue is with paying for repair work on the floor that they laid the day before! No further costs are anticipated as the job is completed.
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
My issue is only with the amount of the final invoice and I'm trying to understand what would be the best route to dispute that and what law I can use to argue this
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
The flooring specialist are arguing that we agreed to all these costs, but no fixed cost has been given! Also, if they charge us hourly rate for some tasks and fixed rate for others, should they be presenting time cards for every task?
They charged 8 hours a day, when only worked 7 hours and also took lunch. I really don't want to get into those details, but is this a valid argument? Trying to find a way to argue this
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 8 days ago.

Hi, the law is under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as I mentioned - more specifically section 56 : https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/section/56/enacted

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 8 days ago.

And they should charge you as per the quote. If you pay for 8 hours a day then it should be 8 hours a day, no less.

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Another question I wanted to clarify, the original scope of works also included locally fixing another creak in the kitchen (The floors in the kitchen were laid by someone else in the past). The flooring specialists we hired now backed out of that part of the job once the issues were discovered with the subfloor, they said they didn't want to take responsibility for repairing the creak in the kitchen. They have taken out any costs associated with the repair from the quote. We have ordered £350 of flooring for the repair and now that they backed out, we are left with a stack of wood and issue not fixed. Does this make any different in the context of the overall argument?
Customer: replied 8 days ago.
They also damaged the downstairs ceiling during the repairs, there is now an openig about 5 cm in diameter and 1 cm deep, which requires fixing and redecoration. Their contract Ts and Cs state that they take no responsibility for damage to ceilings. Is that lawful? Can we charge them for the repair?
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 8 days ago.

Hi, thanks - they should not back out of a quote as a quote if accepted creates a legally binding contract.
As for the last question, they cannot exclude damage if it is due to negligence (you cannot exclude negligence in a contract) so no, that is not lawful and yes you can charge for the repair.
I hope I have answered the question of whether you are liable to pay the invoice. If not, please let me know.
Have a good evening,
Jim

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Since they backed out of a job within the scope, can I charge them back for the materials that I bought for the job? As in extra boards costing us £360
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 8 days ago.

Yes, you can do so given the facts. Thank you

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Another question about this situation. If a trader quotes a fixed price to lay the floors and estimates it will take 4 days, however at the start of the job they say they are not happy with the quality of the floor boards supplied by the customer and because they have to select good boards, the job will take longer, say 5 days. Can they charge extra on top of the quote agreed? Is there a law on this?
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 8 days ago.

Hi, no, as a quote if accepted creates a binding contract which I mentioned earlier.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Is there a law or legal document I can reference in regards ***** *****?
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 4 days ago.

Hi, not to my knowledge, it is a fact in UK law - there is plenty of case law on the topic going back many years.
Feel free to ask another expert if they have a document - I do not have one unfortunately. It should not cost extra to ask another question.
Thanks