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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 77845
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Builder has taken payment in full and has left without

Customer Question

Builder has taken payment in full and has left without finishing. The work he has done would not have passed building regulations so we have had to pay another builder to rectify it.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: North East Endland
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Contacted Trading Standards/Citizens Advice. Sent 2 letters to builder asking for it to be finished then asking partial refund. Quoted consumer rights act
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 stated they were a limited company however, it transpires they were a sole trader. They have note paid the other trades ie: electricians, Plumbers, joiners etc. They asked for a further 22K over the initial quote stating it was to pay trades etc. which we now know was not true. He has caused damage to our property due to his poor workmanship as we had water coming through walls and ceiling. He also smashed our newly fitted tiles in the bathroom and smashed an outside kitchen windowsill all of which have not been replaced. He failed to complete roof purlins which are fundamental to the roof structure.
Submitted: 13 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.
Hello, I’m Ben, a solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

I see you have already mentioned that you want to know about the issues with your builder. Is there anything more specific that you would like to know about it? I also wanted to make you aware that this is not always an instant service, due to various legal engagements I could have and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your query and will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I would like to know whether it is worth us taking legal action to recoup some of our money. We have so far had to pay builders £6700 to take down and rebuild outer walls to correct standards. We have been quoted nearly 10k to undertake building works still required. We have had to pay £1280 to finish render to outside single story extension and there are still other works which require completion. We have paid builder 133k has quote was 110400k
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. When you asked him to return to fix the issues, has he outright refused, or ignored you?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

Hello, I was wondering if you have had a chance to consider my initial query above please? I will need your response before I provide an accurate answer to your situation. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
After the first letter asking to finish the work, he returned for a day and completed some very minor things. He said he'd return to complete other things the following weekend and never did which was 22nd March. Since then he has ignored all correspondence.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues brought up by this. It must be a frustrating situation to go be going through.

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)

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

In the event of 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, the consumer can claim a price reduction, based on the severity of the issues. That is something which should be negotiated between the two parties. However, if the trader refuses to resolve the issues, the consumer can consider getting someone else to do this and either deduct these costs from the balance that is still owed to the original trader, or pursue them for any extra costs that have been incurred as a result.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

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 13 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.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

I trust that everything has now been dealt with to your satisfaction and your original question has been resolved. If you have any further queries about it, please do not hesitate to get back to me on here. In the meantime, I wish you all the best.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you for your reply. I have done everything you have stated in your response and have reported to trading standards I have also threatened legal action but sadly the builder has not returned and is ignoring my correspondence. He is also ignoring correspondence from the other trades who he failed to pay. I think my big concern is spending a lot of money on legal costs only to find a judge let's him off if he pleads poverty. I am not sure of the process by which a judge decides whether to award the claimant compensation to be paid by a defendant. I am aware the builder is a home owner and has recently renovated his home, he also has cars and other assets, but do you know the likelihood of success in these cases as I do not want to end up worse off than I am now. Many thanks
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I would like to add he has taken the full payment due, plus over 20k extra. We are fully aware now that he lied to us about many aspects of the build. He also tried to tarnish my reputation by telling other trades that I was withholding their money.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

Unfortunately, the rules I work under on this site do not allow me to discuss your chances of success in court. When solicitors determine these, a formal case analysis would be conducted and the full details and evidence that are available would be taken into consideration. On this site we only deal with very limited information in a basic chat format, so inevitably certain details and evidence will be missed. We therefore cannot conduct such a case analysis on here. If we discussed prospects of success based on this limited information alone, we could end up giving misguided advice and prompt you into either making a claim or not making one, when in reality we may have advised the opposite had we known the full details. That is why we are only limited to discussing the legal position and your options, without actually commenting on how good or bad a case you have. Hope this explains things for you.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** for your help, much appreciated
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 13 days ago.

You are most welcome and all the best.