Building Disputes

Any failure to carry out building works to a satisfactory standard can have serious consequences. Building work can be complicated and expensive and if that work is not done properly can be just as difficult and expensive to resolve. It is therefore important that before commencing building or decorating works, you try to do all that you can do to avoid problems and reduce the risk of disputes arising.

You should always consider using an approved builder or an active member of a trade association. You should also ask for references. Reach a clear written agreement with the builder about the work they will be doing, the likely time-frame for those works and try to agree a fixed price for that work, possibly with a payment schedule. Try to avoid paying any monies up front. If there is the possibility that additional works might be necessary, then make it clear to the builder that they must agree the price for such extra works with you before carrying them out.

Depending on the size and nature of the building project, you may want to consider having a professionally drawn-up or standard form contract. It is also the property owner’s responsibility to ensure the works have all necessary permissions and approvals. Planning Permission and Building Regulations approval may be required.  

Notwithstanding the above, it is important to remember that you have a right to expect the works to be completed to a reasonable standard. It is implied under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 that any building and decorating works will:-

  • Use reasonable care and skill;
  • Use materials that are fit for purpose and of a satisfactory quality;
  • Be as described;
  • Be done within a reasonable time, unless a specific time-frame has been agreed.

If a builder fails to meet any of the above standards, then they will be in breach of contract and you have the right to have any poor quality workmanship put right, have any faulty materials replaced or repaired and to have any damage caused remedied, at the builder’s expense.

You generally must always give the builder reasonable opportunity to fix the problems. Only if the builder fails, refuses or is unable to do so might you be able to engage another builder to do so and seek to claim the cost from the builder at fault.

As soon as you are aware of any problems, you should let the builder know and try to agree with them what they will do about it and when. You should also keep a detailed record of the faults and take photographs of the poor workmanship. If the problems are extensive and serious, you might even need to obtain a report from an appropriately qualified Building Surveyor.    

Only if the builder fails to remedy the problems after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so should you approach other builders. Estimates should first be obtained to fix the problems and put to the builder.  The builder will then be aware of what it will cost you to remedy the works and the amount you will be seeking to recover from them. If the builder will not pay, then it may be necessary to refer the matter to the Court.

If you find yourself in dispute with a builder or decorator about a building project and you require legal advice and assistance, then please do not hesitate to contact T G Baynes on 0208 301 7777 or alternatively e-mail info@tgbaynes.com

T G Baynes Solicitors. All rights reserved. Law Offices in Bexleyheath, Dartford and Orpington. T G Baynes is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 46768).