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Builder extra invoice dispute

My property is currently undergoing a side extension which up until very recently I've been very happy with, until the builder popped an unexpected invoice through my letter box. I can’t fault the builders work, but his management has been quite poor, this is where i suspect this additional cost has come from. I have always paid the invoices, until now, in full and promptly and have now paid the Quote in full with just a small amount of work left to complete. I understand i shouldn't have paid in full until the work was complete and all snags fixed but the client/builder relationship until now has been good and i had full trust in him to complete to the quoted price – silly me!
He is suggesting that because there were some amendments to the plan he quoted on and that there have been some very minor changes internally that this is the extra cost. I have explained to him that he had 9 months from when he quoted to when he start which was sufficient time to change his quote accordingly if there was additional costs. These changes were to comply with building regs and structural engineer requirements so very small. There was 1 larger change which was the introduction of a staircase in the new part which I purchased myself and agreed to pay him for the installation which took him approximately 4 days; he is yet to tell me the cost of this!
This extra invoice equates to nearly 40% of the initial quoted price which is ridiculous. He has not once said anything was extra or would cost more until this invoice 12 months into the project which is about 10 days from completion.
I’m trying to understand if this is a common tactic to extract extra money from a client and what I should do about it. I am still awaiting a breakdown of the invoice which I believe I will not get, I suspect it’s just cost for extra time as its overrun by about 40%
I’ve spoken to Citizens Advise who have opened a case and advised me not to pay anything extra as a Quote is a legal contract to do the work at that price; it’s very black and white.
Any advice from either side of the fence would be appreciated.

5 Answers from MyBuilder Conversion Specialists

Best Answer

Hello and thanks for the question here, I’m sorry to hear you’re in this difficult situation. Trust and partnership between any client and builder is an important factor, and very rarely this can unfortunately break down.

So, you’re absolutely right that a “quote” is a legally binding entity when it comes to work(s) due. An estimate, however, is totally different - be sure to check that the initial quote was a quote and not an estimate. Obviously a quote would change if the scope of works alter, but any professional builder would need to advise in writing the additional costs, in quote or estimate format, at the time of change notification. If the builder proceeds with the works without even discussing this matter, then you would quite rightly so expect that there are no additional cost increases (especially not 40% of the original number!)

From my perspective, it seems that the builder is capitalising on the overrun on time and throwing a standard pricing format at you without even considering any discounts applied at the original quotation. You should absolutely get a full breakdown and review the numbers with scrutiny.

As a summary, this stinks of poor financial, time and relationship management on the builders behalf.


Answered 28th Jan 2020

Much as I agree with the previous replies to this question. I find it strange that you didn’t get a costing for changes to the original plans.
Rather than get involved with citizens advice who arbitrarily say don’t pay anything, which, in my opinion is bad advise. You should sit down with your builder like two grown adults and agree what is a fair and honest price for the additional works. You obviously knew there would be further costs so it’s a case of being fair.
You’ve had a good relationship with the builder till now so why ruin it by being all this is a legal contract and that is legal.
Sometimes clients need to know that they are not always right and pay an honest amount for the job.
If you are happy with the work so far talk to your builder.
It’s probably the easiest and nicest way to remain on good terms.


Answered 2nd Feb 2020

Good afternoon,

Can I firstly echo the sentiments of ‘Mainty Property’ (previous poster) and say that I’m sorry to hear of the situation you find yourself in at present. Whilst not overly common, it is something that occasionally happens unfortunately and it’s obviously disappointing to hear that you’re experiencing the situation first-hand.

From an administrative perspective, then, I’d suggest that a lot may hinge on the details and terms of the contract between yourself and the builder so I’d perhaps suggest, first off, that you check back though the correspondence you’ve had with the builder to try and establish the terms, certainly as you see them from your perspective. If, for example, the initial quote had a time limit on it then the 9 months between receiving the quote and the start-on-site date could be an issue. However, I’d certainly expect a contractor to advise any client of possible extras if and when the scope of work has been altered for any reason. All that said, any change to a contract, however minor it may seem, does ‘open the door’ slightly to manipulation (for want of a better term).

With specific regard to the staircase incidentally, contractors often provide a day rate which can subsequently be applied to extras such as this, so I’d respectfully suggest that you ask your builder for their day rate which will enable you to evaluate the work associated to the staircase in isolation.

Notwithstanding the above, and assuming you employed a consultant to assist with the preparation of the information on which the builder based their price, I would also seek the advice of your consultant. Even if they’ve not been instructed specifically to assist with the contract administration stage of the project, they should certainly be able to mediate and hopefully work between the two parties, i.e. yourself and the builder, towards a compromise.

I hope that helps and wish you well with the situation generally.


Answered 28th Jan 2020

As with most projects there are often minor alterations or additions that 'in my opinion' should be either agreed as variation/s as and when they become apparent or a contingency sum be allowed for within the initial quotation that allows such additions.

It is always difficult to try and resolve later but I would advise a compromise, if there have been additional works or alterations that are subject to additional material and labour this is chargeable but it's all dependent upon the terms and conditions of the builders quotation.

Hope this helps.


Answered 19th Feb 2020

It’s always unfortunate to hear about someone having a bad experience with a contractor/builder.
There are a few issues with this particular situation.
First of all, an estimate is just that, an idea of cost. I personally would not begin a job based on an estimate nor would I allow someone to start work for me on the same basis. A quote would be a binding contract between both parties and should detail everything included within that quote referencing drawings and or spec if issued/provided.
Any changes by the client there after are clear and the builder is entitled to increase or reduce their quote accordingly.
Any changes should be addressed by both parties in writing to a avoid any confusion within a timely manner of the change occurring, say 7 days. This allows the client to change their mind if there is an increase. This process protects the client and the builder regarding any potential disputes upon completion.
When a relationship is a good one this can seem a little formal but if it s not done the client would not be blamed for thinking they were included in the initial quote.
If the job takes longer than expected it is not the clients financial responsibility. If the project is delayed/extended by client indecision or change then the contractor should not be expected to incorporate the delay costs.
In this particular case the changes were made well in advance and should have been factored accordingly by the contractor.
Any changes including costs should be detailed and costed for the client to understand.


Answered 19th Feb 2020

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