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  • Refurbishment

    Dealing with a dodgy builder - suggestions?

    Dear all,

    A work colleague  has been having a problem with a builder commissioned to build a porch extension on his own house which is located in south London.  Could I tap into the collective wisdom here to see what people think he should do next?

    The timeline:

    8 weeks ago he had three quotes from builders and this chap was almost £2k less and appeared pretty decent when he came over to look at the job.  The builder had done some work for someone my colleague knows a while ago. The total quote was for £10k with a £1k deposit.  He agreed, paid the £1k and a start date was arranged for early May.  No other payment schedule / timetable for completion was agreed but a fairly general plan for the work was decided upon.  I saw the details today and while it was all a bit mickey mouse it was something rather than nothing (we work in a hospital so my colleague has no experience in property).

    A few days before the start the builder called to delay a few weeks as he needed a holiday!  My colleague was pretty relaxed about getting it done so agreed to delay until he got back.  Now a month after he was meant to start the guy has been really hard to pin down.  It took a fairly firm email and some texts to get a date arranged for 2 weeks time.  The catch is that the builder wants another £2k as a 'starting payment'.

    I got involved in this yesterday as he asked for my advice.  I advised a more specific payment schedule should be agreed and timelines for each stage should be estimated.  I also advised to pay nothing more until the work had actually happened.  He went away and designed a plan that was fair - payments after completion of each stage (foundations, the brickwork, the windows, the roof and plastering) with  £500 kept back until all the snagging was done.  Maybe not how I would do it but again, something.  To be clear no up-front starting fee had been agreed in the original plan.

    Fast forward to today and the builder has gone a bit nuts.  Rather than engaging to discuss this he is threatening my friend with legal action and is saying he will bill him for the extra work already done (no idea what this is) UNLESS he pays the £2k immediately.  He said at 1815 that my colleague had until 1900 to decide whether to proceed or not but that he would not be returning the £1k already paid.  He was screaming down the phone such that I could hear him bullying and hectoring.  His texts was similarly aggressive and there are several of them.

    My colleague is a lovely chap and is utterly shocked at how harsh the world can be!  Aside from learning a few lessons we now have a problem in that the builder has £1k that he seems unwilling to return and  my colleague is unsure how to proceed.

    Looking online I find terrible things:  the organisations this guy claims to be a member of are not listing him.....the director (the ranting man) has been a director of three wound-up loft conversion companies all of which lasted around 2 years....the reviews are all 1 star and use phrases like 'rude', 'aggressive', 'cowboy' and others in the same vein (except one on his website that is awesome!).

    Questions:

    1.  I think it is unwise to work with this person on any terms (except perhaps at gunpoint).  Anyone disagree?

    2.  How can we take this forward, particularly with a view to getting the money back?

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    1. agreed

    2. confirm that no further money will be paid until completion as nothing to the contrary was set out by this cowboy.  sue for the grand in small claims court transcribing texts as evidence of breach of contract on cowboys part.

    i think you were wrong to suggest a payment schedule.  clearly never pay any money up front.

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    Hi Andrew, so sorry to hear about your friend's problem with this 'builder' - he sounds a right charmer  :-(

    Others more experienced in the legalities of the situation will be able to advise you, but there is the option of your friend calling the Citizens Advice consumer help line - they're trained to provide advice on this sort of issue and will be able to talk through redress options with your friend.  https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consum...mer-issue/

    I hope the cowboy gets his comeuppance, absolutely hate people like him.

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    and tell him, if he becomes threatening again, that you will lay charges at the police.

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    Thank you for your thoughts, I have passed them on.  My colleague has spoken to a solicitor about it Friday but I think the points here are still useful.  Hopefully something good will come of it all.

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    Building disputes are a nightmare

    Solicitors love them I learned 20 years ago never to use a Building Co

    I have a lot experience with all aspects of Building work and I just don't trust Builders

    I run all my own projects Direct Labour only and I supply all Materials myself

    Building Litigation is very costly indeed

    I learned my lesson and I think your friend will learn it too.

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????

    Hi Dl

    I was interested in your comments about building work and just wanted to ask how do you go about finding really good tradesman who you can employ on a day rate and work to the required standard and to a fair and reasonable time scale for the task at hand?

    I found with my first refurbishment that I was up against a fundamental problem of why would a skilled tradesman work for me on a day rate when he could get two or three times this charging a job rate when materials are taken into account and if your building in a location where there's a good and vibrant economy it seems even more difficult as there's a strong demand for tradesman.

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    Normaly  if you get one Good Tradesman he will know others

    But its a lottery

    I have a selection of tradesmen I use and I don't rely on any of them to be honest

    I treat them like a firework I don't stand to close to them but they are good to watch

    I purchase all materials I don't pay in advance

    I pay for work done on a daily basis

    But depending on job I will ask for a total price for Labour charge only

    A good tip if your going to use a builder is to get an old yellow pages say five years old and see if the builders you are thinking of using are in the old yellow pages

    if they are there long term and worth using

    again if its a large job us a quaintery surveyor to draw up a simple contract of what you need doing

    I learned long ago Large projects can be very stressful and time consuming

    When I did buy property I would draw the line on structural works

    I would do a full referb when I was buying top to bottom normally within a month time is money and don't forget from day one you pay council tax

    Running the project myself

    This is a very large topic and you need to fully understand what your doing and what you are prepared  to pay over how long

    hope that helps

    DL

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????


    It's so interesting to hear you say that because it validates my own experiences, what adds to the difficulty is that you have to know exactly what's a fair and reasonable time to allow for a particular job to be done and you have to be able to know if it's done correctly or not and of course you need to be able to know when someone is quoting above the odds for the price of a job or to put it another way "trying to pull the wool over your eyes" with regards to how much a fair and reasonable price should be for either a particular job or how long a job should take as "job stretching" if on a day rate is another known issue that project managers have to deal with

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