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I just wanted an opinion from a tradesmans point of view about whether or not he will go through with a court case. It wouldnt be a small claim as the amount is more than 5K what with all the extras and fees he is now demanding. This has been a very stressfull time but we strongly feel we should stand up for what we belive is right and not allow ourselves to be harrassed and bullied. Your opinions and advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks for the advice so far. Here is some additional info.
He is indeed vat registered.
We have quite a few e-mails which we sent him stating our concerns about the budget and asking for meetings with him and for him to come prepared with figures. He doesn't have any because he never responded to any of them.
He origianally priced at £80,387.42. This was split into two parts, the first part he told us would never change and the second was pc sums which he said could change depending on what we had but we would be in control of it. A good example is the patio which he quoted at £2,500, after they had done it he charged us £7,500 and told us he didn't realise we were having such a big patio. He never at one point told us that if we had the patio as big as we did that the £2,500 would not be enough and give us another price before starting the work on it. Even though it may have been bigger than origionally planned I am sure it is not worth an extra £5,000.
In all we have paid him 82,914.32 and there was still a third of the job he priced for to be completed including quite a large drive. This is why when he asked for another £8,000 9 days after we had brought the account up to date we asked him to complete our snag list before discussing a settlment payment. There was no way we could afford to keep him on the job. He walked off site and said he would see us in court. This was when we wrote to him several times without ever hearing back to any of our letters. 3 weeks later he finally wrote saying we were being taken to court but the price was now £10,500. Next we recieved a final demand from a debt management agency and the price was now £13,500 which included a late payment and colllection charge. We have given a detailed response and made a counterclaim and have said we will go to mediation. We have asked he provide a complete breakdown of the build including names of builders, dates they were on site, copies of time cards, invoices for material etc.
We are now awaiting his response.
Is your builder a member of a trade association if so contact them and they should arbitrate for you both
Answered 14th Feb 2013
A very sad situation. Do you have an email history? I know you emailed, but did he reply? Or other evidence? You don't need a formal contract so long as the paper trail is good. My personal view is that you are entirely in the right, but any builder that requests part or total in cash should be treated with extreme caution. Cash may well be a valid part of an agreement to help buy materials etc, but should not be part of the terms or the quote, it is an optional extra. Did you get a quote in writing/email. As you say, this is not a small claim, although some discretion is allowed if it is not much over 5K. This means it is expensive to make the claim and you may well find he is simply bullying you, taking the gamble you will settle out of court. Personally, we state in all quotes that no stage payment is required until the customer is happy with the stage, and no final payment is invoiced until the customer is happy with everything. This brings the next question, did you get invoices for all of the work and all of the payments? Is he vat registered? There is so much you can do, but I would need to know much more to advise. But, I would certainly defend it and gather evidence and ammunition. One thing would be to get a quantity surveyor to value the work done so far. Hope this helps, happy to further advise, I think you have been treated disgracefully assuming everything you say is true.
KSD is entirely correct, but in this kind of dispute it will make no difference because the builder has issued proceedings. If the builder had a moral compass, he would have gone down this route already. Can you tell me, are you a reasonably affluent middle class family, perhaps 50yrs ish, white, trusting sort of people, never had a parking ticket? Nice house, nice garden? Pay on time , or in advance? Never question anything, trust in your builder? In fact, trust in anyone?
Answered 14th Feb 2013