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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 19534
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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We have suffered at the hands of cowboy builders and need some

Customer Question

We have suffered at the hands of cowboy builders and need some advice as he is now taking us to small claims court.

We are finalising our defence and would like some advice on how to prepare ourselves in the best way possible.

Here is a quick run down of our situation.

- Builder is hired to undertake renovation of our new home.

- He gave us a written estimate for £15,500 total

- We didn't sign any contracts/agreements as we agreed verbally

- He missed completion date and then missed the revised completion date. We verbally told him about our concerns and we set another date. This was also missed.

- We had concerns about the quality of his work and mentioned a few of these concerns to him. e.g. bathroom and kitchen walls were not repaired and painted before installing kitchen, grout residue left for weeks when it should be cleaned straight away so as to preserve the look of tiles (hard to remove if left too long), leaking front door which he didnt rectify and therefore caused damage to timbers. He didnt do anything about them after asking him to sort them. None of this was in writing but we asked them of him.

- We had doubts about the legality of the electrical work he undertook as he did it himself. After we sacked them we got a report done which states that the wires were run incorrectly back to the electric box. This meant that there was no RCD Protection which could mean risk of electrocution or electrical fire.

- The final straw was him presenting us with an additions bill towards the final stages of £2225. The majority of these additions were not agreed to be additions as we assumed they were part of the initial scope of works/estimate. There were 2 additions where we sat down agreed a price and gave him the go ahead to do these extras and we fully knew about them but the rest were tacked on. We were under the assumption that these were part of the build.

- BotXXXXX XXXXXne is we sacked them and got other builders to come in and rectify the poor workmanship and then complete the job.

- Rectifications cost us close to £9000 and the final bill came to approx £19,500 as we had to complete all that was unfinished and we included a few extra bits of work.

- The best way to describe things is that we pretty much had to start the renovation from scratch.

- Other Bits: We got 2 estimates from other building companies who also provided us with reports stating that his work was pretty horrific and of poor workmanship. Also report from Electrician stating work was dangerous, and heaps of photos of all his dodgy work.

- He initially demanded £3900 in his final email to us after we sacked him. He also claimed in that same email that we had pretty much paid up to date for work done up to that point. His claim was made up by £1500 B&Q kitchen discount, £1700 additions that he had completed so far plus £700 of work he has done that we hadn't paid for so far (which we are more than happy to concede).

- In the Particulars of Claim section of the County Court form he is now claiming the agreed total budget was £19,275. This is news to us as we only ever agreed £15,500 as was stated in the original estimates they he emailed to us (basically he is lying).

Here are my questions:

1. Was told by a solicitor that if our counterclaim was too high it might be fast tracked to a higher court when it might get messy and expensive. How can we avoid this by remaining in small court? We are pretty sure his company doesnt have any money so if he loses he will just dissolve the company if possible (not sure if that is accurate). BotXXXXX XXXXXne is that we arent expecting to get much back.

2. Must we prove that the additions list were not agreed and or not completed or must he prove that we did agree?

3. Do we have to prove that he broke contract? Might we be in the wrong if we dismissed his company in the wrong manner? (a little worried about this one)

4. He offered us his B & Q discount trade card so we can go in and buy a kitchen at a discount. He is now claiming £1500 as a "reimbursement demand" as he puts it as it was a discount he gave to us. We went into B & Q, selected the kitchen, went through the design process with them and paid with our own debit card. Can you now make a claim on this? Sounds like he is trying it on (I Hope).

Thanks for your help!

Cheers

Dean
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor in a High Street practice. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully.

Unless I have all the facts that I need, my answer would not be accurate.

Did you have the missed dates in writing?

Did you tell him to get it done by a certain date or you would get someone else to do it?

Have you asked for his electrical qualifications?

How much is he claiming?

How much did you pay him?

Is he using solicitors or has he issued proceedings himself?

Do you have reports from the new builder and electrician saying that the work is poor?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Law Denning

Thanks for your assistance.

Here are some answers to your questions:


Did you have the missed dates in writing?
No we didnt have this in writing. It was all verbal.


Did you tell him to get it done by a certain date or you would get someone else to do it?
No we didnt. But we did tell him that we had to be moved in by a certain date (this was the 2nd date we changed) and that couldn't be changed due to rental agreement coming to an end and needed to move out of rental accomodation. (verbally)


Have you asked for his electrical qualifications?
No but he informed us that he would be using a certified electrician to do the work (verbally)


How much is he claiming?
Amount claimed = £9075 + interest = 9148.63 PLUS court fee £210 total £9358.63


How much did you pay him?
We have paid £10,200 to date


Is he using solicitors or has he issued proceedings himself?
He has done so himself


Do you have reports from the new builder and electrician saying that the work is poor?
Yes we have reports from 2 other building companies (1 which we ended up go with) and also from the electrician.

Cheers
Dean

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.

It is not small claims court if his claim is over £10,000 since 1st April. He will recover costs if he wins or will have to pay your costs if you win. The fact that you are counterclaiming can put it over that limit. However he will only get his own costs back (£18/hr)if he asks and he wins and it is over £10k. He pays yrs if he loses. He might bottle it if he knows that and it gets moved to fast track! That is in yr hands

You need an electricians report and builders and other experts reports saying what is wrong, and how much it will cost to rectify. The success or failure of yr case depends on those reports

You need to reply with a complete breakdown of events, times, occurrences and problems.

Even if you sacked him completely unreasonably (why would you do that if you were having to pay someone else more?), he is only entitled to recover his loss of profit, not be paid for a service that he didn’t provide. That includes any extras.

It appears he was originally not going to declare this to HMRC. If you can prove that. It makes his claim unenforceable for illegality.

If he quoted £15k and it costs you £19k, you can counterclaim the extra £4k from him which you had to pay.

Your defence is that he is in breach of provisions of Supply of Goods and Services Act S13, He didn’t carry out the tasks with reasonable care and skill and S14 He didn’t carry out the tasks within a reasonable period of time (evidenced by his deadline failures which made time of the essence)http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/29

If he does pop his limited co sue him personally and let the judge decide if he is culpable. You can sue him personally if the Ltd Co is actually his alter ego, ie He is hiding behind the ltd co.

Does that answer the question?

Can I help further?

Please don't forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not what you want to hear).
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If in ratings you feel that you expected more or it only helped a little, please ask.

I am offline shortly until later today and will pick this up then

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi

Thanks for your wonderful information! I will be leaving excellent service once we have finished.

A couple of things if you dont mind:

- our counter claim will be below £10,000 will this keep us out of fast track for sure?

- In regards XXXXX XXXXX 4 in my initial post (see below) where do we stand on that? Can you make a claim on this £1500?

4. He offered us his B & Q discount trade card so we can go in and buy a kitchen at a discount. He is now claiming £1500 as a "reimbursement demand" as he puts it as it was a discount he gave to us. We went into B & Q, selected the kitchen, went through the design process with them and paid with our own debit card. Can you now make a claim on this? Sounds like he is trying it on (I Hope).

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
It is total amount in dispute which affect the track. Ultimately it is up to the judge.
He hasnt paid the £1500, he wouldnt have billed it in the whole scale of things so I dont think he has a claim on it
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

OK thanks.

Final questions.

So total amount in dispute is the addition of both his claim and our counter claim

i.e. almost £19K?

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
In a nutshell, yes.
It is up to the judge which track it stays in. If it goes fast track, the builder might just have second thoughts if he knows the consequences.
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 19534
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
Stuart J and 5 other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks so much!

Excellent feedback left.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
Glad to assist

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